Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
Before I started this book, I read a pretty bad review of it, which worried me considerably. However, because of my undying love for the Pride and Prejudice story, I read it anyways. And never put it down. I spent the entire night and the next morning reading. I only decided to go to sleep after I finished it. It was fabulous. In context to what the previous review I had read said, though, I have to agree with it-just not to the extent that they disliked the book for it. It was only enough for me to knock a star off.
This book aims to deal with the modern struggles of our time. In Sittenfeld’s vision, that means tackling racism and issues dealing with transgenderism. In one particular incident, Elizabeth was pointing out that there was one black guy at a dinner party (so what?) and that he had been engaged. At another dinner party, his fiance-also black-was there. That felt very unnecessary and not like the mind of an Elizabeth Bennet to make what felt like a crude observation. As far as the transgenderism issue went, when one of the characters came out to the Bennet family, Mrs. Bennet freaked out and then continued to freak out and mention it for the rest of the book. It dragged on and felt uncomfortable.
Other than those issues, I am not a fan of having to stop reading to look up the definition of SEVERAL words, a few being: interregnum, apotheosis, samizdat, simulacrum, omerta and so on. I actually have a list in my phone of all the words I needed to look up. In a modern adaptation, there’s no reason to use a thesaurus for words that aren’t really in circulation anymore.
Regarding the circumstances that led to the falling out between Darcy and Wick (instead of Wickham), I wasn’t that thrilled. I felt like in the original, what Wickham did to Darcy was pretty abhorrent, which makes the readers really distaste him and love Darcy even more. In this story, I didn’t find that what happened was really worthy of those two disliking each other so much. I’m not going to give any spoilers on what it was, it was just another opportunity to also try to deal with racism and it felt misplaced.
I did miss the relationship between Willie Collins and Catherine de Bourgh, though. They had no relation at all in this story, so I missed the ridiculousness of Collins always bringing her up. I felt like he could have played the role of her publicist, but I assume it would have pulled away from the whole feminist point of view in that storyline.
I did absolutely love the discord between Caroline and Elizabeth. Their dislike for each other was absolutely perfect and played well. I also enjoyed the storyline of Eligible being our version of the Bachelor and how that came into play with the Bennets and their respective significant others.
Despite the few misgivings I had, I loved this book very much and I’m positive I will read it again. I think one of my favorite takeaways is Elizabeth inquiring to Darcy if they wanted to have hate sex. Hilarious!