It speaks volumes about me that when I'm not reading books I'm reading book reviews. Not only do I have over a dozen bookmarked for easy reference, but I subscribe to a couple of print ones that give me the opportunity to assess titles from a wide spectrum of genres. Not only does this help me to identify books in my areas of interest that I may want to read, but it occasionally leads me to try a title or two that I might otherwise ignore when I see it on a shelf on my local bookstore.
This was how I came to read this book. But for Sarah Lyall's glowing assessment of it in the New York Time Book Review I probably never would have added my name to the wait list for this title at my local library. When it arrived it proved worth the wait and justified every bit of the praise she gave it. I must confess that I haven't read Pride and Prejudice or any of Jane Austen's other novels, but it'm hard to imagine that I will enjoy them as much as I did this book. Curtis Sittenfeld is a wonderfully funny writer, and she updates the novel in ways that make it contemporary without altering the basic premise or structure of the original book. The Bennets are moved from Regency Hertfordshire to modern-day Cincinnati, while Elizabeth "Liz" Bennett is a writer for a Ms.-style magazine in New York City who returns home with her sister Jane after their father suffers a heart attack. It's a scenario that forces Liz to address both her family's declining circumstances and the truth of her own personal life, both of which draw the handsome but snobbish Fitzwilliam Darcy into her life. The plot largely unfolds in ways that will be familiar to readers of the original novel, and while in a couple of places Sittenfeld's modernity becomes a little too ostentatious, for the most part Austen fans likely will find this a hugely enjoyable updating of her most famous work.