If you know me, then you know I’m probably the biggest Pride and Prejudice fan. I’ve seen a variety of adaptations and read a ton of retellings. This story has a huge space in my heart, especially because it was something my mom and I bonded over before she passed away. Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy are two of my most beloved fictional characters. But I have very mixed feelings about this particular retelling.
Eligible is a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic, and it does have a lot of similarities with the original Pride and Prejudice, but it’s also super problematic. I hate to start with the negatives, but I need to talk about them. There is a lot of blatant racism, homophobia, and transphobia in this book. It was incredibly offensive, and I immediately hoped no trans or other people of color read this book. The Bennet family is a rich, snobby Republican version that I completely despised. While the original version of the Bennets could be overwhelming, I never hated any of them. But Mrs. Bennet was just awful. So awful.
I also found myself disliking Liz Bennet. This had never happened to me before. In all of the retellings I’ve seen/read of this story, Lizzie is always my favorite character. But in this book, I wasn’t sure why Mr. Darcy fought for her. She just wasn’t worth it to me. I don’t want to get into too many details about why, because the list is lengthy. If you’d like a clearer review explaining the racism and transphobia better, read this one.
Despite my complaints, and all of these terrible issues I found, I did enjoy most of the book. I loved Mr. Darcy. I’ve loved Darcy since Colin Firth brought him to life in that incredible BBC mini series. I mean, there is no better Mr. Darcy than Colin Firth. There just wasn’t enough Mr. Darcy in this book. He was the most decent character in the story, though. Aside from Darcy, I also liked Charlotte. I thought she was great. And Kathy de Bourg was a great feminist character. I was surprised by this because her original character is nothing like this. But these few characters were really the only likeable ones, aside from Jane, though she wasn’t my favorite.
I was mostly confused because I thought that the author might have had good intentions, but she wasn’t careful enough to realize how offensive her story was in the end. I wanted to love it. I was ready to be obsessed over this retelling. But it just rubbed me the wrong way. I can’t say I hated it, though. I finished it in two days. It kept me entertained, for sure. But I wouldn’t really recommend it to others.