Tag Archives: Curtis Sittenfeld

Rodham Book Review

Life sometimes comes down to a series of choices. But the thing about these choices is that we never know where these choices will lead us.

Curtis Sittenfeld‘s new novel, Rodham, was released back in May. The book asks one basic question: what if Hillary Rodham has not married Bill Clinton? How would her life had turned out?

The book starts out when they are both students at Yale Law School in the 1970’s. Finding a nearly ideal partner in one another, their romantic relationship is on fire. After graduation, Hillary follows Bill back to Arkansas. But instead of marrying him, she ends the relationship.

Over the decades, Bill and Hillary will cross paths as she builds a career in politics and grapples with the same sexism that existed in her youth.

This book is brilliant. Balancing both the known facts and the what if question, Sittenfeld creates a narrative that feels completely organic. I was immediately sucked in and taken through an alternative history that could have happened, had things gone differently.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History, Politics

Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice Book Review

Jane Austen’s novels are full of plots and characters that we are all very familiar with. That being said, it’s not a huge stretch of the imagination to see why many writers over the years have tried to put their own spin on Pride and Prejudice. However that does not mean that every Pride and Prejudice fanfiction or reboot holds up to the original text.

The newest Pride and Prejudice reboot is Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld. 

Taken out of early 19th century rural England, this adaptation of Jane Austen’s most famous novel takes place in modern-day Cincinnati.  Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are still the parents of five daughters. But instead of living on a small estate in Hertfordshire, they live in a dilapidated mansion. Elder sisters Jane and Liz, 40 and 38 respectively, live in New York City, away from the tumult, drama and chaos that is the Bennet household. Younger sisters, Mary, Kitty and Lydia, all in their 20’s still live at home and are happy to live under their parent’s roof.

Enter Chip Bingley, Ms. Sittenfeld’s answer to Charles Bingley.  Chip has two very good things going for him: he is a doctor (meaning in Mrs. Bennet’s eyes, he must be waiting to marry one her daughters) and he starred in Eligible, a Bachelor like reality show.  New to town, Chip is holding a Fourth Of July Barbecue to get to know his new neighbors. Joining Chip is his good friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy. Chip and Jane hit it off immediately, but Liz and Fitzwilliam are more apt to have a verbal battle than play tonsil hockey.

I will be honest. I wanted to like this book. I wanted to like it because I adore Pride and Prejudice.

I didn’t like it. There were parts of the novel that were slow and almost made me put the book down altogether before I finished it. My main problem is that while Ms. Sittenfeld was able to translate Pride and Prejudice to a modern setting, I lost Austen’s voice and the certain quality that is only contained within an Austen novel.

Do I recommend it? Sadly no.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Jane Austen, New York City, Pride and Prejudice, Television