Classics revisited…

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld is a really good re-visit of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. PPWCUsually I am not keen on such re-tellings – although the odd one is unusual and original enough to work – Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is one that springs, like a hungry zombie as it were, PPZto one’s mind. Eligible is not so zeitgesity, pop-culture-moment-seizing but it is still fun, a bit shocking and funny, and feels fresh and clever. The plot is what you already know and love but the modern twists and interesting characters set in Cincinnati work – it’s a good read whether you know P&P, and will enjoy the parallels and echoes or will enjoy shouting about how wrong Sittenfeld has got it, or whether you’ve never read it and don’t care where the inspiration has come from…

Eligible

… for something slightly more literary the new collection of short stories inspired by Jane Eyre’s powerful and assertive statement “Reader, I married him” is very interesting. I didn’t love every story in Reader, I Married Him edited by Tracy Chevalier but they were all Janeinteresting and well written. There are twenty-one tales, by turns romantic, funny, tragic, bold and shocking. Some of them have ago at re-telling Jane Eyre from other character’s viewpoints, others jump off the celebrated and iconic phrase without a backward glance at, or reference to,  Jane, Rochester, Bertha, the Hall or indeed the eighteenth Widecentury. Only one has a go at telling Bertha’s story, a brave thing to do when Jean Rhys’s brilliant and breathtaking Wide Sargasso Sea – perhaps the very best ever of such sequels – exists. I very much liked the stories that played with Jane a bit, exploring how annoying and goody-two-shoes she might have been, and perhaps even calculating and manipulative – these did feel a bit transgressive and exciting. And, the cover is gorgeous…

RIMH

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