What does Jane Austen have to do with The Bachelor, Crossfit and paleo diets?
Nothing. Until now.
Because her classic novel — the one you probably last read at school — Pride and Prejudice has been remade into a novel called Eligible.
And let me tell you, it’s a rip-snorter, vastly different to what you read in Year 11 English.
It’s the latest read for the Book Club podcast. And the most entertaining one yet:
Pop culture remakes of Jane Austen novels are nothing new: Her classics have been adapted into film, TV, and theatre. Bridget Jones’ Diary has many noted links with Pride and Prejudice, Emma was made into the Alicia Silverstone classic Clueless, Sense and Sensibility had a modern-day remake in Hilary Duff’s Material Girls.
But this version of the Bennet family, and of grumpy Darcy, a Bridget Jones-esque Liz Bennet, and the very dashing Hugh Grant-ish character have had a modern American makeover that in many parts made me snort with laughter.
Liz is now a magazine writer in her late thirties. Her perfect older sister Jane is a New York yoga instructor. Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts, paleo diets, and Snapchat nail tutorials to get real jobs. And Mary, the weird middle sister, is a recluse who’s earning her third online master degree and barely leaves her room.
And of course, as ever, their mum has just one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters.
Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who’s fresh off The Bachelor-esque reality TV dating show Eligible… and his best friend, snobby-arsed neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy.
The other modern remake: Bridget Jones was based on Pride and Prejudice. (post continues after video)
This novel was the fourth book in The Austen Project, which pairs six bestselling contemporary authors with Jane Austen’s six complete works.
Curtis Sittenfeld is one of the brightest writers in the US landscape — her non-fiction has been published in The New York Times and The Atlantic, and so to be charged with a task such as this, would have seemed monumental.
This froths over with delightful, funny, pop culture references and touches on themes that propel this book straight into 2016: transgender characters, race and class divides, campus assault, anorexia, sperm donors and IVF, the battle of career vs family, and a protagonist who is childfree by choice. There’s hate sex and reality TV and an ending that not even the most modern feminists among us saw coming.
This modern re-telling pissed SO many people off. You can’t imagine the outrage over taking a Jane Austen book and injecting it into the modern world. Which is excellent for book club, because we’re all about the page turners with bite.
I’m not a critic, but I know what I like. And in my opinion this book was a deeeee-light. Read it. Read it. Read it. And then come join the book club. It’s what Jane Austen would have wanted.
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