Saturday, April 30, 2016
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
Eligible is the fourth book in HarperCollins' "Austen Project" --- reinventions of Jane Austen's classic novels. The publisher has commissioned four (so far) popular modern writers to take on the challenge of updating Northanger Abbey (Val McDermid); Sense and Sensibility (Joanna Trollope), Emma (Alexander McCall-Smith) and now Pride and Prejudice (American author Curtis Sittenfeld).
Having received only tepid reviews for the first three, perhaps the publishing house hoped to resuscitate the project by upping the ante with an edgier American writer who has traded Austen's dry wit for the crude vulgarity of a reality TV show. Full disclosure: I have read several of Sittenfeld's previous books and came away unimpressed.
Critical opinion of Eligible seems to be divided, but this lifelong Austen fan was not amused. Jane is a placeholder and Liz lacks not only charm but brains as well. Texting --- the preferred form of communication here --- is a pallid substitute for Austen's repartee.
Thus far no authors have been announced to despoil Mansfield Park and Persuasion. Perhaps having done their worst, HarperCollins will quietly bury the corpses and move on.
Click HERE to read a review in the Denver Post.
Click HERE to read a review from a (hitherto) respected blog, austenprose.com.
Click HERE to read the interview with Sittefeld on National Public Radio (NPR).