Culture Street

Books

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

On April 29, 2016

By Sophia Whitfield
Eligible is the fourth book in The Austen Project, previous books include Emma, Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey.

In Curtis Sittenfeld’s retelling of Pride and Prejudice, Liz and Jane, the eldest Bennet sisters live in New York. Liz works for New York based magazine Mascara where she writes the Women Who Dare column, focusing on feminists and stories of successful women.

The sisters have been summoned back to their family home in Cincinnati to provide assistance as their father recovers from heart surgery. On arrival they are surprised to discover their three younger sisters in various states of disarray and their Tudor-style family home suffering from a decided lack of care.

Now in their late thirties, Jane and Liz’s single status has become a cause of great concern to Mrs Bennet. She sees their matrimony as a way for their family debt to be settled. Liz and Jane’s only reprieve from the daily Bennet dramas is their morning run.

Hearing of Liz and Jane’s arrival, the family of Liz’s best friend Charlotte Lucas throws a barbecue for the Bennet family. Joining the gathering are two charming doctors who are promptly introduced to the Bennets, an introduction that raises Mrs Bennet’s hopes for matrimony. Chip Bingley is not only a doctor but also a former reality TV star of the bachelor shows Eligible. His friend Fitzwilliam Darcy is a neurosurgeon, in a nod perhaps to Dr McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy.

When Liz’s discovers her family’s mounting debt due to her father’s medical bills, she finds her family is in need of more help than she can offer. The arrival of Silicon Valley whiz kid Cousin Willie creates a diversion, as does Jasper, the married man. You will recognise all the characters. Each one has been given a modern twist.

Eligible is a humorous retelling of a great novel. Buy the book in Australia here and in the UK here.

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