Calling Eligible a modern retelling of Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice hardly prepares you for this version of the story. Though true, you may not be braced for how much pop culture and parody Sittenfeld has injected into the beloved novel. The storyline is the same - there are a couple of character plot lines that have changed - but mostly it is true to original plot.
Have you ever imagined the Bennett family in modern times? Some of us fans may have seen the modern retelling movies - the Bollywood version or the 2003 Utah-based version. Both (purposely?) set in cultures where family, virtue and reputation are still primary - like in Austen's day. But what if the Bennet clan were just a bunch of xennial/millennial basic b----es? This is the world Sittenfeld has painted and it is fun, fresh and witty. We have Crossfit, Reality-Dating Shows, Silicon Valley nerds and artificial insemination whirling around the Eligible world. We also experience transgender and race diversity on the scene. Critics of the novel do not feel those were admirably handled, though one might see that as Sittenfeld's point. Sittenfeld was not afraid to make Lizzie - a most beloved character - even more flawed than her 19th century counterpart. Beware that her pride - and the resulting character flaws of such a vice (control, arrogance, lack of self awareness, etc) is visibly aired out with all the Bennets' dirty laundry.
I avoided this novel at first because of the variance in reviews. Some loved and enjoyed this story and some hated it - calling it utter trash. Loving Austen's original work does not guarantee you will like Sittenfeld's version, but it also doesn't guarantee you will hate it. But I find it merits a chance. Sittenfeld's version is consistent and creative. I admire what she's done with the story and feel that she was true to the nature of Austen's characters put into a particular scene of modern day. It has taught me to not always rely on reviews to tell me what to pick up next - if anything a divided population might be the most enjoyable experience.