Bingo Notes: This is my Remix square. It’s a modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen.
Eligible tells the story of a modern Bennet family, set in Cincinnati, Ohio and updated to include things like Reality TV, CrossFit, and the trans community. In this telling, Liz is a magazine writer, Jane is a yoga instructor, Kitty & Lydia both work at a CrossFit gym, and Mary is hiding away completing one Master’s Degree after another. This story opens with the sisters more spread out (Jane and Liz both live in New York) and gathered together in response to their father’s health scare. Being back together and in their hometown throws them into the orbit of two high profile doctors – Chip Bingley, fresh off a Bachelor-style reality program, and neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy.
The story hits many of the same beats you’d expect; Jane and Chip are separated before coming together in the end, Lydia scandalizes her mother, Chip & Jane and Liz & Darcy end up together. The way it does it tries very hard to be as contemporary as possible, sometimes to the story’s deficit. Jane’s fertility journey is an odd choice, but not a bad one. Liz’s relationship with a married friend actually makes a great deal of sense to me, though she sticks with it too long for any version of Elizabeth Bennet I’d respect.
I was very nervous about the introduction of a trans character into this narrative, and I’m still not sure that I think it works? As far as I can tell, from a cis perspective, it appears at least to not be overtly offensive on the whole. It still felt like it was placed there to hit as many buzzy, modern day topics as possible – transphobia! Racism! Anorexia! Fertility struggles! Infidelity! Health insurance! Online shopping addiction! Asexuality! Reality TV! It was a lot.
Still, it’s a solid beach read, which is the reason I picked it up. The prose isn’t special, but the chapters are constructed in a Dan Brown, just one more chapter sort of way. If you are seeking a thoughtful, well developed adaptation of Austen, I’d look elsewhere. If you want a quick and breezy piece of romance, you could do worse. If you are a huge fan of Cincinnati, Ohio, this book is definitely for you!