Is this where I reveal that I’m a sucker for a modern retelling of an older story? Or, particularly, of Jane Austen stories? I enjoy seeing how the situations change to keep the same characters and traits and dynamics amongst them.
Eligible is a retelling of Pride & Prejudice. It takes place in Cincinnati, Darcy is a neurosurgeon, Lizzy is a magazine writer. They are both almost 40, and Lizzy has her large family. She and yoga instructor Jane are back home from NYC because her father is recovering from a heart attack. Her family is as atrocious as you’d expect.
Sittenfeld ably handles the material, turning it into an enjoyable story even though you probably know how it goes. Sometimes the joy is in watching the process unfold.
What’s it about?
Death Comes to Pemberley is about the Darcys from Pride and Prejudice. Lizzie and Darcy are happily married; Jane and Bingley live nearby. Lydia and Wickham are traveling with Denny nearby, and coming through the Pemberley woods when Denny leaps out of the carriage, followed by Wickham. Denny’s body is found later, Wickham is, of course, covered in blood and is the main suspect. And every mystery reader knows that the first main suspect is almost never the person who actually did it. So Lizzie and Darcy must figure out who actually killed Denny.
Why should you read it?
Don’t. This was a did-not-finish for me. Pride and Prejudice is full of charm but Death Comes to Pemberley wasn’t. Austen was a great master of her characters, but that delicacy and complexity doesn’t come through in this book. PD James is a great mystery author, and the plot is, I’m sure, quite good. But I missed the familiar characters, so put it aside.