Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
Written by Ashley Kelmore, Posted in Reviews
What a delightful surprise. I’ve read Ms. Sittenfeld’s writing before (Sisterland), and I’ve read Pride and Prejudice, so I knew it would be entertaining. I also knew how it would end, sort of, so it wasn’t exactly suspenseful. And yet I read 500 pages in 24 hours. I stayed up too late reading last night, and started up first thing this morning.
If you’ve read Pride and Prejudice you know the characters – the basic personality types are still there, but everyone is aged up a fair bit, and the two sisters who don’t live at home have returned because of the patriarch’s heart attack. It continues from there, and it is mostly delightful. The title stems from the Bachelor-style TV show that one of the male love interests had previously appeared on.
A couple of things – I vaguely recall Mr. Bennet being a quiet but kind father, and Mrs. Bennet being extremely obnoxious but perhaps with her heart in the right place. This telling, however – hoo boy. Mr. Bennet is mostly a jerk who seems at times unable to accept that his very smart daughter is in touch with reality while he is not. His dismissiveness comes across as misogynistic, as opposed to just suffering 80s sitcom dad-ness. And Mrs. Bennet – racist, transphobic, obnoxious. I really wouldn’t have minded a diversion in the retelling that involved her running away and never returning, possible because she was being detained forever by the TSA. Just a wretched character.
I probably wouldn’t have picked it up if not recommended by a book club, but I’m really glad I did. I think it’s a fun read, especially for a long, lazy weekend.