Saturday, May 14, 2016

Book Review - Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

I’m not one who enjoys writing scathing reviews.  I avoid them like the plague, as I know that authors pour their lives into their work, and my mere ramblings (in most cases) cannot hold a candle to what they have created. In truth, I feel I have no place to criticize anyone for what they have authored, as I myself have had very little work actually published.  On one occasion, I even took the time to contact an author to give them the option to have my negative review go unpublished.  I didn’t care for her work, but I didn’t feel she deserved the words I wanted to print, either.  I have no desire to rake anyone over the coals for decisions they’ve made as an author.

That said, I’ve decided not to hold back in my negative review of Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld.  Ms. Sittenfeld, like the other authors in the Austen Project series, is renowned in her field and will certainly not suffer any harm from my meager opinion.  She most likely will not even read this, and ultimately will continue on in her successful career.

When I learned of the Austen Project, I was thrilled to know that established, respected authors would be taking on Jane Austen’s work, updating them with their own voices and styles.  Although other works such as Emma and Sense and Sensibility have already been published, I began reading this series with my favorite of Austen’s works, Pride and Prejudice, which has been renamed Eligible for this volume.

I expected the modernization of the source material. I expected deviations from Austen’s characters and plot. This was not a problem.  What I didn’t enjoy was the sheer amount of trashy content that was sprinkled throughout the book.  WARNING:  I will not be shying away from spoilers.  If you’d rather go into this novel without my negative opinion or these glaringly ridiculous facts in your mind, I urge you to discontinue reading.

As expected, the younger Bennet sisters Lydia and Kitty are not only ridiculous, but embarrassing to the family.  However, in this Austenesque incarnation (and I hesitate to even call it that), they go beyond embarrassing to being downright crass and disgusting.  I may be called out for being a prude when it comes to their behavior and truly foul language, but that doesn’t concern me.  Lydia and Kitty are so repulsive; I didn’t find them amusing in the slightest.  Like the unseen Anne De Bourgh, I wish they’d been eliminated from the cast lineup entirely.

To continue in the ludicrous line of ideas I found within these pages, the title of this novel is taken from (of all things) a reality show called "Eligible", which seems to be a clone of the television show, “The Bachelor”.  The book as a whole eventually takes on a similar tone, in that it’s low-class, unrealistic and bawdy.  Yes, Liz and Darcy did have palpable chemistry and were at times interesting to watch as characters, but I couldn’t get beyond the amount of R-rated content that was included in their lives and in those around them.  When Mr. Collins goes to propose a romantic relationship with Liz, he initiates the discussion not with an awkward speech or phone call, but by jamming his tongue down her throat in an unwelcome kiss.  There is more than one mention of the use of dildos in the story, and Mrs. Bennet is more than just annoying—she’s downright racist.

I could go on and on about how much I disliked this novel, but I feel that my opinion (as singular as it may be) has been made clear.  There’s no need to go over my distaste repeatedly.  For those of you who enjoy reality shows like “The Bachelor”, this might be the book for you.  If the shredding of Austen’s decency doesn’t concern you, then by all means give this a try.  However, if ever I’m asked if I enjoyed Eligible, my response will be a decisive “No”.  My only hope is that the other titles in the Austen Project are not as deplorable.  The ones do I own will remain on my shelf as I look forward to giving them a try someday.  As for Eligible, it will be headed directly to my local used book store, in hopes that I can swap it for another title that will be worthy of my time and effort.  This one certainly was not.


  1. Thanks for the review, Laura. I know to avoid the book now. I have to say your vehemence on your Facebook post made me click through to the review. You definitely caught my attention. Ha!

    I have never been a fan of Austen erotica.

    1. Well, I don't know that I would term this work as "erotica", but it was certainly distasteful at the very least... Thanks for stopping by, Robin!

  2. You've certainly gained my attention... I haven't been dying to read this but I was curious... Now I am feeling less enthused. Perhaps I'll pass! Thanks for your review!

  3. I haven't been curious about reading these since I read all the reviews on the earlier books, but it's a bummer that your favorite was so distasteful for you.

  4. I've read a couple of books that had some potential, but it's always the R-rated material that turns me off. Thanks for your candid review!

  5. I so appreciate the honest review. I haven't picked up Sittenfeld since The American Wife, which I didn't like at all. Austen wannabe books aren't my favorites either, so this is an easy reject for me!



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