Well, it’s here. Hitman Anders, I mean. But. Jonas Jonasson’s third novel was not what I dug into tonight. Nah. That distinction went to a book that I’d been desperately wanting to get my hands on since early this year: Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible.
Billed as a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, the novel is a whopping 500+ pages and received mixed reviews over at Amazon. That, in itself, says nothing for an author’s ability to craft a compelling story that will thrill a reader because, as we all know, there are Jane Austen purists and then there are Jane Austen fans who do not mind watching Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (my kids found it enjoyable, btw).
So, here’s my verdict: it kept me reading till the last page. All in all, it was an enjoyable and delicious romp of a comedy. Though, to be honest, as one reviewer commented on Amazon, there were certain elements that turned me off. I mean, it was too modern for my taste with Lydia marrying a transgender (and Liz mouthing cliches like “Ham and Lydia are living their truth.” Bleh!) and Liz and Darcy copulating in hate sex fashion (who indulges in hate sex repeatedly, eh?)
Still, there was enough wit towards the end which made me LOL before closing the book. Though to be sure, Jane Austen is probably turning in her grave at how contemporary her story, er, heroine has become. Personally, I felt that Liz came off as a loser (c’mon, hankering and waiting for a guy for years at a time when so many dating apps exist … move on, girl !!!) minus the sparkling joie de vivre that must have captivated Austen’s Darcy. Also: Sittenfield took familial dysfunctionality to new heights with a reality-TV-star Bingley, pregnancy-obsessed Jane, shopping-addicted Mrs. Bennet and a bowling-mad Mary. In any case, the scenes I enjoyed the most were the confrontation scenes between Liz and Caroline Bingley which I’d love to do in real life. Sigh.
Anyway, here’s to another delightful evening with Barbara Pym whose wit mimics that of Jane Austen such that Philip Larkin wrote of her: “I’d rather read a new Barbara Pym than a new Jane Austen.” After Crampton Hodnet, I just know Jane and Prudence will be another blissful time-travel to another world where decency and propriety rule. Cake, anyone?