Eligible is the fourth novel in The Austen Project series. A series of books where six contemporary authors re-write Austen’s novels. I was wondering how the story of Pride and Prejudice was going to translate into a modern setting but Sittenfeld managed to do it justice. Obviously some of the major plot points had to be changed slightly, however I feel that the author did them justice while they were different the inspirations behind the events were obvious but it allowed for it to be bought into a modern era. I really felt that the novel is reminiscent of the original but still standing as a book in it’s own right as well.
Liz Bennet is of course our main protagonist. I liked the way she was written she was witty, funny and very reminiscent of her inspiration as was her elder sister Jane’s character. I liked her, I think she was a very realistic and relatable character in all the decisions she made. As I am a little bit younger than the character’s age of 38 I feel that her actions at the end of the novel were rushed but at the same time I feel that it was the right way for the novel to end.
Darcy’s character was again another well thought out character. I think that he was portrayed in a way that still made him likeable with the same proud aura that the original character held. I really enjoyed Darcy as a character, I see him as a very well-rounded character, and I think that his interaction’s blended the old character and the contemporary settings.
Jane & Chip oh bless their sweet souls. I liked them well enough but I wasn’t overly keen on their story line. I found it slightly far-fetched. I mean I understood all of it till the end I don’t really understand the inclusion of ‘Eligible’ a fictional Bachelor style TV Show that their story kind of revolves around. However they are the same sickening cute couple as described in t he original text. Mary, Kitty and Lydia are the same self involved characters. Kitty and Lydia are obsessed with Cross Fit, where Mary is on her 3rd online degree. I do like these characters though as Sittenfeld made them fit into the story well.
I wasn’t overly fond of the portrayal of the ‘Mr Whickham’ inspired character Jasper Wick (it also took me a few moments to understand who he was in the story). I think it was the back story between himself and Darcy which irked me slightly I felt like the reason behind the incident was slightly glossed over (SPOILER It has nothing to do with Georgie). I think it was the lack of a relationship between the two which may have made it slightly droll. I mean the character is still a major douche so never fear in that point but I do feel that it could have been done differently but I am aware that it is mostly a back story so I wasn’t mortally offended.
The other major problem and one of the main reasons this novel didn’t get a whole 5 stars was the character of Georgie, Darcy’s sister. She has anorexia and if this was at all relevant to the storyline in any way I would understand the reason for including it. I felt that the whole situation was kind of irrelevant to the plot. If Georgie was a happy, healthy sister it would have worked just as well. Sittenfeld has made a major point of including as much of a diverse range of characters and sexualities which I appreciate but this seems kind of thrown in there without thought to the way it comes across.
There was two points in the story I don’t think really made much sense to me or I didn’t really get. The first was the reason for Jasper and Darcy’s reason for disliking each other. I feel it was just sort of glossed over and I don’t think it really has that much of an impact the way the original novel does. At the same time however Jasper Wick doesn’t play as crucial role in this novel as he does in the original so to an extent it doesn’t need to be earth shattering. The other is the final chapter of the novel. It is written in Mary’s POV and its ridiculous it has no meaning to be there, it serves no purpose to the story. NONE!!! It irks me that it is there. It should have finished with Liz and Darcy. If Sittenfeld is trying to point out that you don’t need to chase after a man to be complete with life I am not sure this was the novel she should have written.
As a major Pride and Prejudice fan I was both excited and unsure how I would receive this novel. However I thoroughly enjoyed it and unless you are and Austen purist but a fan of the original then I definitly recommend you pick Eligible up. It’s funny and heartwarming and of course the Bennet’s are still just a little bit eccentric.