my take: What looks like wealth and upper class in America? What would bring an upper-middle class family shame? Curtis Sittenfeld has done a marvelous job translating 19th century Pride and Prejudice mores into the 21st century. In fact, she interpreted the old-maidenness and bad manners so well it helped me understand the original better.
Mix the five Bennett girls with reality television, transgender discrimination, artificial insemination, feminism, CrossFit, yoga, and a decrepit Tudor … throw in a couple eligible bachelors … and add a misinterpreted text, the lure of fame, an act of racism at Stanford … and violá! The current trappings that make P&P relevant and new.
The new comes with a bit more overt feminist language … in this tale of marrying off the Bennett women, Ms. Sittenfeld suggests a defense of pairing off. As Liz interviews an aging feminist for the magazine Mascara, the grand dame says, “‘There’s a belief that to take care of someone else, or to let someone else take care of you–that both are inherently unfeminist. I don’t agree. There’s no shame in devoting yourself to another person, as long as he devotes himself to you in return.'” And maybe that’s what we’ve always loved about Mr. Darcy: he does devote himself to Elizabeth.
The author points out that there’s also no shame in remaining single. She gives Mary the last word/chapter. It’s not about marriage or procreating … it’s about being who you are. She loves to be alone. End of story.
Is it terrible to say I’d love to watch this as a mini-series? Sigh. I never tire of P&P.
my source: Recommended and loaned (in hardcover, no less) by daughter, Anne. She lived in Cincinnati for five years and especially enjoyed all the references.
my verdict: Fun modern re-telling of P&P