The lovely Bennet family finally made it to 2016. Jane, the oldest sister, works as a yoga instructor whereas famous Liz is a journalist for a New York women’s magazine called “Mascara”. The middle sister Mary is still rather scholarly, preparing her third Master’s degree, and the youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia spend their time applying make-up and doing CrossFit workouts. The parents – as in the original Jane Austen version – are broke and especially the mother is longing to see, finally, at least one of her daughters being married to a handsome rich man. The plot is well known, yet Sittenfeld inserts some 21stcentury topics such as artificial insemination, transgender partners and well-scripted reality TV to give the family enough problems to quarrel about.
Admittedly, I am one of Jane Austen’s billions of fans and not very keen on reading fan fiction or “borrowed” literary ideas. Yet, Curtis Sittenfeld made something really new of the plot and I had a great fund reading it. Albeit the overall plot is identical, he manages to create distinctive characters which are quite authentic – all these types of young women with their respective problems and fears exist all over the western world – and depicted in a lively and charming way. It you loved Liz Bennet in Jane Austen’s novel, you will also find lovable traits in Sittenfeld’s Liz. By translating the story to our world, he perfectly transformed the lives of women from then to now and really hit the nail on the head. The sisters’ thoughts are haunted by the ghosts every woman knows quite well and thus the old story finds its way into our world.