Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Eligible; a review...

'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.' (Goodreads)

This version of the Bennet family is one I wish I hadn't met. Mr Darcy was even more of an arsehole. Mr Bennet was called Fred (possibly one of the must amusing and yet horrifying additions). Lydia married a transsexual. Jasper. What? Even worse than Wickham's character. Much less endearing. Sittenfeld wasn't kidding, first impressions can be deceiving! I thought, 'yay! A modern Austen retelling!' What could go wrong, right?


It took me a good ten minutes to stop laughing after 'want to go to my place and have hate sex?' I was appalled and yet I couldn't stop laughing. Sittenfeld's characters have no tact! The very fact that Darcy and Liz were having hate sex every so often ruined the dynamics of their relationship for me. The tension between them was lost. There was no fire.

Then there was the declaration of 'love' but then again, it's 'probably an illusion caused by the release of oxytocin during sex'. Don't go overboard on the romance Darcy. At least Austen's Darcy was willing to admit he loved her, even if it was against his better judgement. Austen's much loved declaration of '"In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you” became:

'You're not beautiful, and you aren't nearly as funny as you think you are. You're a gossip fiend who tries to pass off your noisness as anthropological interest in the human condition. And your family, obviously, is a disgrace. Yet in spite of all common sense, I can't stop thinking about you'.

I honestly have no idea what to say to that. It didn't seem as though Liz Bennet did either. Following this was Eligible. Which I believe was modelled on Love Island? What irritated me was Chip (I mean really?! That's the best you could do?) Bingley's openness about the experience. The infuriating bit was that god awful wedding of Jane and Bingley's. A reality show wedding.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies irritated me, and this was a hundred times worse. I lost count of the amount of times Mrs Bennet (who, by the way, was even more insufferable than in Pride and Prejudice) requested that Jane's baby be passed off as Chip's on Eligible.

Additionally, the relationship between Mr Bennet and Elizabeth pained me. Or rather, a lack of a relationship between them. Though I felt he saw Elizabeth's point of view and accepted her help, I felt he disliked all of his daughters equally. That Elizabeth was no less important to him than the others. That made me feel a little bit uncomfortable and unsatisfied. Sittenfeld has missed so many emotional connections between characters.

I didn't mind Liz's portrayal but wondered what on earth she was thinking with seeing Jasper. What a jackass! Was the fact that he kept calling her 'Nin' when trying to excuse his appalling behaviour meant to be endearing and acceptable?

Whilst writing this review I've been scouring Goodreads, interested in the opinions of others. I have found a shocking amount of reviews that rate it with four and five stars!! These reviews refer to it as 'witty' and 'amusing'. Amusing, I will allow. But witty? Where?!

However, it was definitely amusing. I found it an easy read because of it's humour. But I didn't feel as though I was laughing with her, or appreciating her work. Instead, I felt as if it were a joke at her expense. This was been one of the worst novels I've read in a long time. I'm still looking forward to Alexander McCall Smith's Emma. Nothing can be as bad as Eligible.

At the end of the day who doesn't love a book that defines the title on the cover for you? Good lord.

1 comment:

  1. Buried amongst other things, here's my review of Eligible. We're of the same mind.