Book Review: Eligible

When I was about 12 years old, I walked into a video rental store with my dad on the search for something for the both of us to watch together. An employee in her mid sixties insisted that we rent Pride and Prejudice, a movie that had just come out starring Kiera Knightley. We rented it. We hated it. But don’t worry! Three years later in my English class, I found the book. I read it and loved it. I watched the movie the lady at the movie rental store recommended and have since watched it enough to almost memorize every movement. I even took a class called Jane Austen in Film when I was in college, and I wrote a detailed paper on the 2005 film. Pride and Prejudice is one of those timeless stories to me, which is why I jumped at the chance to read a modern retelling called Eligible.sittenfeld_eligible3 I liked Curtis Sittenfeld’s book, but not as much as the original. However, let’s be honest- it had a lot to live up to. I wouldn’t read it if you’re looking for any type of surprise; Sittenfeld follows the plot very carefully. Therefore, there are spoilers ahead because all of the major plot points occur in the retelling.

At times, Eligible was a little heavyhanded, but this is to be expected with satire. Like in the original, the characters and their hobbies were a bit outlandish. Lydia and Kitty are Crossfit junkies. Calm, level-headed Jane is a yoga instructor. Mr. Collins, known as “Willie” in Eligible, is a step-cousin with a proclivity for tech startups. The most humorous and thought-provoking twist was the inclusion of reality television- Chip Bingley is on a dating show that eventually airs his wedding with Jane Bennet.

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My beloved edition of P&P from my trip to England alongside Eligible

An interesting turn in the book was the take on the character Wickham. Instead of Wickham being a quasi-love interest for Lizzy and Lydia like in the original, Sittenfeld divides him into two men. Jasper Wick is Lizzy’s love interest at the beginning of the book; he is married, but both he and his wife participate in extramarital affairs. He knew Darcy when they both attended Stanford, and Darcy was on the board that got Jasper kicked out during his last semester. When Lizzy finds out about his misdeeds, she basically ghosts him by ignoring his texts, which seemed slightly immature for a 38-year-old woman. Ham Ryan is the other half of Wickham; while he never shows interest in Lizzy, Ham is the owner of the Crossfit gym Lydia attends. Like in the original, Ham and Lydia run away together and elope. The translated drama from the original is Ham outing himself as transgender to Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. Instead of being a marriage of convenience (they had to get married for the sake of their propriety in the first book), Lizzy observes that they genuinely seem happy together and in love.

Many people see Pride and Prejudice as a representation of the social customs of its time, which makes me wonder- since the original is a “novel of manners,” is the world of reality television the manner in which we live now? Will people look back on this generation and use reality television as a label?

 

Joint Podcast and Book Review: #GIRLBOSS

Let me make one thing clear: while I’m a creative, I have no desire to be an entrepreneur. Sophia’s quips and stories about her business growing were interesting to read, but I don’t aspire to build a clothing empire or even own a juice shop. However, since she’s a badass lady, a lot of Sophia Amoruso’s tips and tricks apply to any woman who wants to take control of her life. So while the podcast and book are better for you marketing majors out there looking for your big break, I’d recommend it for any 20-something trying to make it through proverbial pressure that creates a diamond.

 

THE PODCAST, #GIRLBOSS Radio

Each episode starts with a #girlbossmoment, a time when Amoruso shares listeners’ moments during the week when they felt the most in control of their life. This could include quitting a job (like me!) or taking time for self care. Then, Amoruso brings on a guest. Most of the guests are business owners and entrepreneurs (such as Glossier’s Emily Weiss and Poo~Pourri founder Suzy Batiz), but she also talks to nonprofit geniuses and cultural phenomenons. She always asks them what their first job was out of high school or college. Every guest I’ve heard so far has had a very unglamorous first job, which makes me feel way better about my life. I always learn a lot about ambition and drive and getting my hands dirty, and I’ve heard of so many cool ladies for the first time whose brands I’ll now support. The podcast is great, and it’s a good length.

 

THE BOOK, #GIRLBOSS

Which came first, the book or the podcast? In this case, the book, and I hear rumors that there is a Netflix Original TV show in the works! In the book, Amoruso details the misfortunes and hard work that led to her clothing empire, Nasty Gal. Personally, I’m a little bitter that they don’t carry plus sizes; it’s always hard for me to get behind clothing lines that ignore a significant part of the population. So her journey to success as an entrepreneur was possibly good for something to talk about over dinner.

My favorite part about the book was Amoruso’s general advice on being a badass lady. Since I’m currently trying to train my brain in therapy, I loved the quote, “Magical thinking is the alchemy that you can use to visualize and project yourself into the professional and personal life you want…. I’m talking about visualization that works when we actually get off our asses and do stuff. Fortune favors the bold who get shit done.” Easier said than done of course, but it’s something I’ve been working on for months that is finally working, so it was affirming to see her put it in words,

 

To wrap it up, my #girlbossmoment of the week is starting my new job tomorrow! I’m super nervous and questioning every decision I’ve every made, but as Amoruso says in her book, “Fortune favors action.” So I’m making moves.