Reading Jane Austen For The First Time

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

My reading mood recently has led me to explore classic novels and I have thoroughly enjoyed diving into research mode to put together an ambitious reading list.📚 Outside of my school years, I haven’t read many classics so it is a whole new world. In fact, there was a point where I sincerely thought that classics just simply were not for me, finding myself intimidated by the language or sheer length or both. But these days I find myself in search of new genres, new stories, and new challenges. I knew for sure that I wanted to give the much-loved Jane Austen a read, and after looking into her published works I thought “hmmm, why not read them all??” Each novel sounds quite appealing to me and I am excited to read all of them. I am going to rank them based on my interest in the story and read them in that order. I’m curious to see how my initial ranking will compare to a final ranking after I have completed my Austen journey.

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Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

BLOGEligible, a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, takes the Bennet family and the beloved supporting cast of characters to the modern world of 2013 Cincinnati.

“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.”

As always, Mrs. Bennet is eager to marry off her daughters, especially Jane who is nearing forty.  One very eligible bachelor is Chip Bingley, who recently appeared on the reality dating show Eligible, and is introduced to Jane at a fourth of July barbecue.  Jane and Chip hit it off immediately, while Elizabeth’s encounter with Mr. Darcy proves to be not quite as pleasant.

I am a big fan of retellings and experiencing old favourites in a new and different way, which is why I was very much looking forward to reading Eligible.  As soon as I started the first chapter I couldn’t help but smile, and found it to be sharp, funny, and thoroughly enjoyable.  However, at the halfway point it took a turn and the second half of the novel felt like a sharp contrast to the fun and wit of the first half.  The main issue for me was the approach to the relationship between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, which did nothing but reflect the sometimes crass nature of modern dating.  The entertaining banter between the two characters that marked the beginning of the novel was replaced by dialogue and interactions that had the feel of a bad romance novel.

Another issue with the second part of the novel is that too much is thrown together and presented in a way that came off as incredibly ridiculous, and not in a fun way.  Eligible started off very strong, but for me it lost its way and by the end the negatives well outweighed the positives.  Unfortunately, it was just not my cup of tea.

*ARC provided by NetGalley.  Publication date: April 19, 2016.