From the “wickedly entertaining” (USA Today) Curtis Sittenfeld, New York Times bestselling author of Prep and American Wife, comes a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Equal parts homage to Jane Austen and bold literary experiment, Eligible is a brilliant, playful, and delicious saga for the twenty-first century.
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.
Wonderfully tender and hilariously funny, Eligible both honors and updates Austen’s beloved tale. Tackling gender, class, courtship, and family, Sittenfeld reaffirms herself as one of the most dazzling authors writing today.
Curtis Sittenfeld is the bestselling author of the novels Prep, The Man of My Dreams, American Wife, and Sisterland, which have been translated into twenty-five languages. Her nonfiction has been published widely, including in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Time, and Glamour, and broadcast on public radio’s This American Life. A native of Cincinnati, she currently lives with her family in St. Louis.
Date of Birth:
August 23, 1975
Place of Birth:
B.A., Stanford University, 1997; M.F.A., University of Iowa (Iowa Writers¿ Workshop), 2001
1. Eligible is a modern adaptation of the classic novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Why is this story such a timeless favorite?
2. Which of the sisters do you most identify with, and why? Did that change at all over the course of the novel?
3. Were you surprised by Darcy and Liz having “hate sex”? Did it make the novel more or less enjoyable for you?
4. What prejudices does Curtis Sittenfeld explore in this adaptation? How do they differ from the prejudices of Austen's time?
5. To what extent do you think the portrayal of modern courtship and marriage in this novel is realistic? Do you think Mrs. Bennet’s concern over her daughters remaining unmarried into their late thirties is common, or is this an outdated perspective?
6. The title Eligible comes from the fictional reality television show Chip Bingley appears on. What do you think the novel has to say about reality TV? Would you go on a show like Eligible?
7. On p. 305, Kathy de Bourgh tells Liz that, “There’s a belief that to take care of someone else, or to let someone else take care of you—that both are inherently unfeminist. I don’t agree. There’s no shame in devoting yourself to another, as long as he devotes himself to you in return.” Do you agree or disagree with this sentiment?
8. If you’ve read Pride and Prejudice, do you think it is a feminist novel? Is Eligible?
9. The novel closes with Mary's perspective. Why do you think Curtis Sittenfeld chose to conclude the novel with her? How does the choice change your perspective on preceding events?
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