I have a literary confession. Promise that you won't hate me? I have never read Jane Austen. (I will wait while you pick your jaw up) She has always been on my "Must Read" list and I have multiple copies of her work, but I never have gotten around to reading them. I know that remakes of Austen's works have always been poorly received, but I was thrilled to get a chance to read Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld.
Liz and her older sister, Jane Bennett`return to the family home in Cincinnati when their father has a health scare. The sprawling family home, Pemberly, looks more rundown than ever, their mother has her head in the sand, and their younger sisters are high maintenance divas who thinks that somebody else will solve all their problems. While attending a Fourth of July bash Jane meets the handsome Chip Bingley, a reality television star fresh off of the hottest dating show, Eligible and they hit it off immediately. His childhood best friend, Fiztwilliam Darcy, is with him at the barbecue and the sparks between him and Liz really fly, but she is too enamored with her married flame to pay attention to Darcy. As Jane and Chip's relationship takes off, Liz is left to be the responsible sister. She discovers that her family is in serious financial trouble and tries to convince her parents to sell the house and her younger sisters to grow up. Will Liz be able to save the Bennett family from their own destructive ways?
Having not read Pride and Prejudice, I can only judge Eligible on it's own merits. I have to be honest that I really, really enjoyed reading this book. I loved Liz and her intelligent wit, I loved Jane and her optimistic outlook, and I absolutely loved Mr. Bennett. I found myself laughing at his dry wit and devotion to his family. Darcy is the kind of character you would expect him to be, serious, focused, and perfect for Liz. This delicious and, often times, hysterical retelling of a beloved classic covers a lot of ground that some might deem political, the state of health care, anorexia, IVF for single women, transgender rights, and more. But the topics are touched on in a way that flows with humor and grace. In the end there is definitely a "happy ever after", but not until there is much strife.
Bottom line - I know I am long overdue to read the works of Jane Austen, but based on the enjoyment I got from reading Eligible that I am in for a real treat.