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Book Review: Curtis Sittenfeld's Eligible

Book Cover for Curtis Sittenfeld's Eligible

Curtis Sittenfeld's novel Eligible is the featured book for the December Literary Road Trip Box. Set in Cincinnati, Eligible is a reimagining of the Jane Austen classic, Pride and Prejudice.

In Sittenfeld's version, Liz Bennett is a magazine writer who is less-than-charmed by Darcy, a neurosurgeon whom she meets at a BBQ. Returning to her family home after her father sufferers a health-crisis, Liz finds her mother desperate to get all of her daughters married and out of the house. As her fortieth birthday looms near, Liz becomes the focus of her mother's attentions.

Eligible is a really fun take on a well-known story. I was especially delighted by the character of Bingley, who in this version is a participant on a dating reality show! In a different writer's hands Eligible might have been another Pride and Prejudice reboot that we didn't need, but Sittenfeld's skillful writing and clever twists make this version feel fresh and innovative.

Sittenfeld is one of my favorite contemporary authors. She has a sharp wit and is a keen observer of human nature. I've enjoyed all of her books, including her most recent, Romantic Comedy. Released in 2023, Romantic Comedy is a pandemic themed book that follows an SNL-esque comedy writer who falls in love with the celebrity guest star. The story has overtones of the Ariana Grande/ Pete Davidson romance, with the main character questioning how a famous celebrity could really fall for someone so ordinary as herself, a self-sabotaging esteem issue that threatens their relationship. It's riveting. If you enjoyed Eligible, I encourage you to seek out Sittenfeld's other works.


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