Author: Curtis Sittenfeld
“This version of the Bennet family and Mr. Darcy is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.
Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.
Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend, neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy, reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . . And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.”
The next sentence I type will probably be the most controversial thing I’ve ever published. I have never read Pride and Prejudice. In fact, I’ve never read any work by Jane Austen. How long before the literary police come and take my internet away? The only reason I’m admitting this and giving “true” book lovers the opportunity to rake me across the coals is that after reading Eligible, I don’t think I want to read Pride and Prejudice.
There is something incredibly refreshing when you read a book and hope for the failure of every single one of the characters. It’s like the literary equivalent of biting into a lime. It screws up your face and makes your lips pucker, but you keep going back for more. Unfortunately (or fortunately, I’m still not sure) all the characters in the book ended up happy-ish.
I think the simplest thing that saved this book was the writing. I was very engaged the entire time reading about these, frankly, terrible people who made terrible choices for more than 100 (very short) chapters. Plus Liz wasn’t the worst character in the world, just kind of frustrating. The people around her, however, were God awful. Full stop.
Jane was the nicest. I didn’t hate her. Mary, Kitty, and Lydia were terrible people who I’m sure Liz wouldn’t associate with if she weren’t related to them. Lydia was a cunt. She was a bully. Her eloping with Ham didn’t change that for me at all. It just made me think Ham was a terrible person with bad fucking taste. Kitty was just as much of an asshole and Mary was an antisocial dick. I was shocked at how decent Liz was and how great Jane turned out when they came from that family. Her mother was a racist, classist asshole, and her father was an apathetic husk of a man.
Fitzwilliam Darcy, also a cunt. He was the worst excuse for a love interest I’ve ever read (excluding obviously bad ones that sexual assault their love interests). He was a dick to Liz the entire book and then they had hate sex. Then he was in love with her? At first, Liz was like “I like your dick, not you. You suck.” but somehow she went back and was like “I love you too”? I didn’t think they had anything close to a romance. Just settling.
That being said I enjoyed every minute of this tale of dysfunctional families and test tube babies. I wish that Liz would have lived her life and let her family burn but whatever, some people aren’t heartless like me. If you hate books where the characters are people you want to push in front of a bus, don’t read this book. If an entertaining story about terrible people tickles your fancy, pick this one up.