book review, fiction

Review: Eligible

She might even have felt that self-congratulatory pride that heterosexual white people are known to experience due to proximate diversity.

-Eligible, Curtis Sittenfield

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FORMAT: audiobook

RATING: 4.5/5 stars

SUMMARY: A modern Pride and Prejudice retelling in which Elizabeth Bennet is a writer for a progressive, feminist magazine based in New York City, Jane Bennet is a yoga teacher, and Chip Bingley is the newest doctor in town, fresh off the reality television show Eligible (think The Bachelor). Mary, Kitty, and Lydia still live at home, unemployed and unmarried. In fact, none of the Bennet girls are married, although their mother desperately wants them to be due to their dire financial situation. Lizzie must deal with the reality of impending financial instability, family dynamics, AND the stuck-up doctor in town named William Darcy, which makes for many interesting potential romances.

THOUGHTS: This book is utterly delectable. If you enjoy retellings and Jane Austen, this book is definitely for you. For those of us that have read Pride and Prejudice, I’ll give you a few juicy tidbits- Catherine de Bourgh as a second-wave feminist icon (think Gloria Steinem-type), Lydia and Kitty as cross-fitters, and Collins as a Silicon Valley figure.

Curtis Sittenfeld managed to capture each of these characters magnificently and translated them to the modern atmosphere flawlessly. I had my serious doubts going into this adaptation, especially since The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was so brilliant, but I was pleasantly surprised by Eligible.

Just as the original Pride and Prejudice did, Eligible combined character development with plot progression in an ideal ratio. And of course, the cast of characters could not be crazier, nor could they be more lovable and relatable. Would highly recommend for anyone who enjoys a good Austen narrative!

 

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book review, classics, reading recommendations

Review: Pride and Prejudice

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

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There is something to be said about the fact that I have the first line of this novel memorized. And that something is, I am OBSESSED as any teenage fangirl would be with this book.

AUTHOR: Jane Austen, duh.

GENRE: romance

WHERE DID I GET THIS BOOK: thrift shop

RATING: 5/5 stars

SUMMARY: Mrs. Bennet is sent into a frenzy when a rich, eligible bachelor moves into a house in her neighborhood. She is convinced that Bingley, the bachelor, is destined to marry one of her daughters. This prediction proves to be not unfounded as Bingley and Jane, the eldest Bennet girl, are quite taken with each other. Bingley brings his friend along, Darcy, another rich, eligible bachelor that the main character, Elizabeth, finds pompous, arrogant, and exceedingly rude. Through some miscommunications, Bingley suddenly leaves town, taking Darcy with him and leaving Jane heartbroken. Elizabeth suspects foul play, and when Darcy surprisingly proposes to her, she confronts him about how he interfered with the happiness of her sister. From then on, events spiral out of control and Elizabeth’s world-view and character judgements are challenged, shattered, and rearranged. As she matures throughout the story, she finds that first impressions are not always what’s really true and that her pride, and someone else’s prejudice, very nearly destroyed the happiness of themselves and those that they hold dear to their hearts.

THOUGHTS: Pride and Prejudice, for me, was the kind of book that I picked up and rarely ever put down until I was completely finished with it. It was that captivating, and that good. Elizabeth Bennet is my perfect narrator: relatable, sassy, intelligent, loving, and flawed. Her journey throughout the story arc is one of my absolute favorites, and though the romance is the main focal point for most people, Elizabeth’s development is the meat of the story for me.

If you have ever watched The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on YouTube (here is a link if you have no idea what I’m talking about), there are a few aspects of the book that stand out as flaws. There is no redemption of Lidia Bennet or her relationship with Elizabeth in the book, there is not a whole lot of characterization from Wickham besides word-of-mouth (and of course the book clearly says that this is not a good way to know a character), and the submissiveness of Jane Bennet in forgiving other characters. Of course, some of these errors are only perceived as such because this is not a modern novel, and some come from the fact that the novel is only told from Elizabeth’s point of view while the video series tries to incorporate other points of view. But some, of course, are Austen’s errors.

Besides this, there are many praises that I can ascribe to this novel, and there have been many praises that other people have ascribed to this novel, so I will try and keep it brief so you can spend less time reading this review and more time reading Pride and Prejudice. The characterization of Elizabeth and William beautifully mirror each other, and although it is Elizabeth’s story, William also blossoms and grows throughout the story.

The family aspect of this story is also very important; the Bennet family, although not the best family to marry into nor the most stable of families, is recognizable, even in modern times. The mother, who is characterized as rather crazy and obsessive by Elizabeth, does experience some redemption. Mr. Bennet is lovingly characterized as a simple, quiet, but fiercely loyal man. The Bennet sisters are all quite different, but also recognizable as the different kinds of girls you have known and befriended throughout your life. There is jealousy, there is contempt, but above all, there is love and support.

The romance, of course, is your classic they met and hated each other, but once they got to know each other, things changed. But this storyline was probably best exemplified by this novel, and it feels so fresh and real in this novel. Additionally, the way that the two end up falling for each other is unorthodox and is not romantic in the conventional sort of way.

I’ll stop here to prevent myself from rambling on, but if you’d like to talk to me about your crazy love for this novel and all things Austen, feel free to reach me through the Contact page! And if you love classical novels, a bit of romance, and plenty of drama, this novel is a MUST READ for you!

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