Eligible: A Novel by Sittenfeld, CurtisEligible: A Novel by Sittenfeld, Curtis

Eligible: A Novel

bySittenfeld, Curtis

Paperback | April 18, 2017

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Wonderfully tender and hilariously funny, Eligible tackles gender, class, courtship, and family as Curtis Sittenfeld reaffirms herself as one of the most dazzling authors writing today.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR AND THE TIMES (UK)

This version of the Bennet family—and Mr. Darcy—is one that you have and haven’t met before: Liz is a magazine writer in her late thirties who, like her yoga instructor older sister, Jane, lives in New York City. When their father has a health scare, they return to their childhood home in Cincinnati to help—and discover that the sprawling Tudor they grew up in is crumbling and the family is in disarray.

Youngest sisters Kitty and Lydia are too busy with their CrossFit workouts and Paleo diets to get jobs. Mary, the middle sister, is earning her third online master’s degree and barely leaves her room, except for those mysterious Tuesday-night outings she won’t discuss. And Mrs. Bennet has one thing on her mind: how to marry off her daughters, especially as Jane’s fortieth birthday fast approaches.

Enter Chip Bingley, a handsome new-in-town doctor who recently appeared on the juggernaut reality TV dating show Eligible. At a Fourth of July barbecue, Chip takes an immediate interest in Jane, but Chip’s friend neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy reveals himself to Liz to be much less charming. . . .

And yet, first impressions can be deceiving.

Praise for Eligible

“Even the most ardent Austenite will soon find herself seduced.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“Blissful . . . Sittenfeld modernizes the classic in such a stylish, witty way you’d guess even Jane Austen would be pleased.”People (book of the week)

“[A] sparkling, fresh contemporary retelling.”Entertainment Weekly

“[Sittenfeld] is the ideal modern-day reinterpreter. Her special skill lies not just in her clear, clean writing, but in her general amusement about the world, her arch, pithy, dropped-mike observations about behavior, character and motivation. She can spot hypocrisy, cant, self-contradiction and absurdity ten miles away. She’s the one you want to leave the party with, so she can explain what really happened. . . . Not since Clueless, which transported Emma to Beverly Hills, has Austen been so delightedly interpreted. . . . Sittenfeld writes so well—her sentences are so good and her story so satisfying. . . . As a reader, let me just say: Three cheers for Curtis Sittenfeld and her astute, sharp and ebullient anthropological interest in the human condition.”—Sarah Lyall, The New York Times Book Review

“A clever, uproarious evolution of Austen’s story.”The Denver Post

“If there exists a more perfect pairing than Curtis Sittenfeld and Jane Austen, we dare you to find it. . . . Sittenfeld makes an already irresistible story even more beguiling and charming.”Elle

“A playful, wickedly smart retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.”BuzzFeed

“Sittenfeld is an obvious choice to re-create Jane Austen’s comedy of manners. [She] is a master at dissecting social norms to reveal the truths of human nature underneath.”—The Millions

“A hugely entertaining and surprisingly unpredictable book, bursting with wit and charm.”The Irish Times

“An unputdownable retelling of the beloved classic.”PopSugar
Curtis Sittenfeld is the bestselling author of the novels Prep, The Man of My Dreams, American Wife, and Sisterland, which have been translated into twenty-five languages. Her nonfiction has been published widely, including in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Time, and Glamour, and broadcast on public radio’s This American Life. A nat...
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Title:Eligible: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:528 pages, 8 × 5.21 × 1.14 inPublished:April 18, 2017Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0812980344

ISBN - 13:9780812980349

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good read! Nice adaptation of pride and prejudice. Funny and enjoyable.
Date published: 2017-10-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Best of the Jane Austen project... This is the best adaptation of one of Jane Austen's works. Very modern with characters that are extremely relateable.
Date published: 2017-07-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved it! I just finished reading this book. Nice current adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. A good read. Not deep but fun.
Date published: 2017-06-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Quick and Entertaining Read A light read and amusing story, definitely a good one for vacation!
Date published: 2017-05-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Quick read Enjoyable quick read. The book has hit and misses and the author could have fleshed out characters more. The author does well to weave gender and race in more ways then one.
Date published: 2017-05-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Not quite what I was expecting, but an interesting take on one of my favourite books.
Date published: 2017-05-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting An interesting take on one of my favourite books.
Date published: 2017-05-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not my cup of tea I was disappointed with this book. I'm a huge Jane Austen fan, and I was looking forward to seeing how Curtis Sittenfeld would treat the "Pride and Prejudice" characters. Austen's characters and their trials and triumphs don't really translate well into modern-day North America in my view. The characters seemed crass and lacking in depth.
Date published: 2017-04-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not bad One of the better retellings of Jane Austen's classic.
Date published: 2017-04-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from From Austen to TV soap I looked forward to reading this update of P&P (and especially after so many favourable reviews) but I was disappointed almost from the outset. The modern context is predictable, the characters are one-dimensional and the dialogue is stilted.
Date published: 2017-02-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Fun A fun modern retelling of P&P. Don't expect anything too deep or insightful, but it is entertaining
Date published: 2017-01-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not bad. I liked this, but I wouldn't go back and re-read it.
Date published: 2017-01-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fun Book It was an was easy read. A little silly at times because of the Bachelor reference, however the story itself was quite interesting.
Date published: 2017-01-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It's Okay I've always been skeptical of retellings, and while this book wasn't bad, I couldn't get into the whole Bachelor premise for Mr. Bingley which sorta ruined the book for me. The book was still a surprisingly good retelling of Pride and Prejudice, so if you can get over the Bachelor plot line than definitely read this book.
Date published: 2016-12-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Written and told well This is by far the most accurate modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. I am a huge fan of Austen's story, so there were aspects of the this book that I was not as big a fan of, but nevertheless enjoyed the story.
Date published: 2016-12-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous Book! I cannot recommend this book highly enough! For any Jane Austen fans, this is a modern day retelling of "Pride and Prejudice" with a reality TV twist. At first I was dubious as I'm an Austen purist, but I found myself laughing out loud reading this book and thoroughly enjoying the prose and dialogue that Sittenfeld crafts. She is a modern storyteller taking on a famous and sacrosanct author with wonderful success.
Date published: 2016-12-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read! I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book and so I began reading it with no real expectations. And so I was greatly surprised to find a book that I not only loved, but was also completely enthralled with. It was able to touch on modern-day problems that many middle-class women face nowadays, such as having a career, aging, having children a little later in life, marriage, as well as other larger societal phenomena. I will say however, there are also some situations that are less common for most people, which are slightly dramatized, but do end up making for a hilarious and compelling story. The best books for me are those that make people emote, and in this case I was laughing, crying and truly FEELING what was happening in the Bennet family. Although I’ve always wanted to, I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice, the classic novel on which Eligible is based. Now I can definitely confirm after reading Eligible that it will be one of my next reads. I’m also looking into reading more books by Curtis Sittenfeld because this book was intelligently written, touched on current-day affairs and I simply did not want to put it down.
Date published: 2016-11-25
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A not-so-charming update I usually enjoy modern adaptations of Jane Austen, so expected to like this one as well. I found it stretched itself in trying to make the plot and characters distinct to the point where it wasn't enjoyable. I somehow didn't even like Elizabeth.
Date published: 2016-11-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable read It feels a little trite at times, but for anyone who enjoys the classic it's a great book.
Date published: 2016-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great spin on a well known classic I am a sucker for all things Austen and I really enjoyed Eligible. If Jane Austen was writing in the 21st century I feel that this is what Pride and Prejudice would be like. Mrs Bennet's craziness is one of my favourite things from the original, and one that the book version of Bridget Jones's Diary does well, I appreciated that this version of her was as totally self involved as I hoped she would be.
Date published: 2016-11-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great, funny retelling of a classic Even if you've never read Pride and Prejudice (like me, I say ashamedly), you probably know the story: girl's family is pressuring her to marry, girl meets guy, girl thinks guy is a snob, girl and guy fall in love. This is of course an oversimplified summary of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy's beautifully complicated relationship, which is retold in Eligible. Almost everything in this story has been adapted to modern times. The story addresses a lot of the issues we deal with in modern-day life, including racism, trans- and homophobia, fat shaming, classism, and pressure to marry. The sisters' ages have been changed to better fit our current society and how even though we're now older when we start getting pressured about marriage, that pressure does still exist. This story is very much written in the style of the original in terms of having old-timey words and cadence, yet it still feels like a modern style because of the story. It's a really cool juxtaposition! I love the ways in which the author changed the sisters' relationships. The way Liz and Darcy's relationship gets started, for example, is perfectly adapted to how we do things now. I can absolutely see that whole scenario playing out in real life. And Jane and Chip Bingley's storyline - another fantastically strange relationship I can picture. I'd go so far as to say that most of the Bennets are unlikable in this story because of their, well, pride and prejudice, and yet I'm compelled by their stories. Eligible is definitely a book I'm going to pass along to friends and family who love the original. If you're in the mood for a fun, long read, then cozy up with your favourite drink and enjoy this modern retelling of a wonderful classic.
Date published: 2016-04-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Sittenfeld's dry and poignant observations about human beings seem made to go with Austen's story <strong>Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld is a witty and enjoyable, if long, retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.</strong> Clocking in at 512 pages, Sittenfeld takes her time establishing the characters, the city of Cincinnati, and the society in which they live. This is a book for people who like to fall in love with a city and who, like Elizabeth Bennet herself, tend to hold onto first impressions of books and characters. <strong>At first glance, Liz Bennet and her family seem like pretty despicable people.</strong> They're old money Cincinnati folk, born with and continuing to live with silver spoons in their mouths. Jane and Liz actually live in New York, sharing a place in the Upper West Side. Jane is a yoga instructor, while Liz writes for a feminist women's magazine. Meanwhile, the rest of the Bennets live in a wealthy part of Cincinnati, where they seemingly don't work at all. By aging up all of the characters,<strong> Sittenfeld shows that societal pressures to get married, have children and settle down haven't changed that much since the early 1800s.</strong> Liz is 38. Jane is 40. The other Bennet sisters are anywhere from 27 to 35. And yeah, that pressure is very much in their face as Jane and Liz come home to help their family after their father suffers a heart attack. Re-inserting themselves into the old money society, Jane and Liz meet Chip Bingley and Fitzwilliam Darcy, doctors at the University of Cincinnati medical centre. And thus begins a tale that really shouldn't feel so biting and familiar in 2016 (or 2013, when the story is set). That's the thing that Sittenfeld gets right: <strong>her dry and poignant observations about human beings seem made to go with Austen's story</strong>. Even though<strong> there are some bold changes to the narrative to modernize the story</strong> (for one, Darcy and Liz's meetings aren't quite as formal in the early parts of the book as you would think) - I was struck by the fact that the very essence of the story - this story of modern manners, society, and trying to figure yourself out in the midst of all that - was still relateable today. <strong>Part of that relatability is no doubt due to Sittenfeld's talent for creating round, imperfect characters that begin unlikeable and then grow on you. </strong>I found Liz a know-it-all and definitely bit pathetic at the beginning of the narrative because she's stuck in a really terrible relationship with a married man. And yet, as you get to know her and you realize what she has to offer, you start to understand why tick and foible. Similarly, I felt a bit ambivalent towards Jane given her seeming lack of direction in life, but as Sittenfeld unveiled more of her character, I understood that her choices in life were very deliberate. There are certain choices Sittenfeld makes -such as splitting up the Wickham character - that I'm not convinced worked entirely.<strong> There's a feeling that Sittenfeld is using diversity as a plot point instead of letting characters stand for themselves</strong> (the two diverse character of note, are indeed, kind of token, and played up because of the Bennets' own prejudice). And yet, I can't say that this wasn't a really strong adaptation. I was just as frustrated by many of the characters as the original, but <strong>I also felt the same urgency for Darcy and Liz to get together as I did in the original</strong> and some of the subsequent, excellent adaptations (the 1995 BBC miniseries, the 2005 film, and the Lizzie Bennet Diaries webseries come to mind). I was cheering for Liz and Darcy by the end, and I think you will be, too. <h1>Bonuses:</h1> <strong>I Want To Go To There:</strong> I've recently become quite interested in seeing Cincinnati - I've heard it's both a quaint and cultural city and this book made me want to go even more. And since Liz does some traveling to San Francisco during the book, I can tell you that I really, really like how that city is portrayed as well. <strong>Character Flipping:</strong> In the original Pride &amp; Prejudice, there are a lot of really despicable, unlikeable people. Not so in this book. There are one or two awful people, but even the people Austen originally made into caricatures get a little more sympathy in Sittenfeld's version - some are even likeable! <h1>The Final Word:</h1> Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld hits the mark on a lot of my bookish needs. The first is, well, obviously, it's a Pride &amp; Prejudice retelling. That fact alone had me begging for it. The second is that it's written by someone who is not afraid to make characters real, fallible and not always likeable. <strong>Sittenfeld's frank prose and honesty about the realities of womanhood today, couched in Austen's tale of love and wit really worked together.</strong> Read it if you're a Janeite, or if you just enjoy a slightly ascerbic view of the world.
Date published: 2016-04-21

Read from the Book

Chapter 11   “YOUR MOTHER HAS shared a tragic piece of news about Cousin Willie with me,” Mr. Bennet said when the family was assembled for dinner. “He’s coming to visit.” “Really, Fred,” Mrs. Bennet said, and Jane said, “Dad, that’s an awful way to set us up.” Mr. Bennet smiled as if he’d been doubly complimented. “As you all know, my sister is flying out next week, to check if I still have a pulse and, in the event that I don’t, to take possession of our mother’s silver. For reasons that elude me, her stepson has decided to accompany her.” Liz swallowed a spoonful of the gazpacho Jane had prepared and said, “I know you all find this hard to believe, but Cousin Willie is kind of a big deal.” “And if I were an insomniac,” Mr. Bennet replied, “I’d like nothing better than to hear him explain why.” “Maybe he can tell us why the Internet in this house is so slow,” Kitty said.  “Or teach Mom to use her cellphone,” Lydia suggested. “His start-ups have made millions of dollars,” Liz said, and Mr. Bennet said, “Yet he doesn’t know how to put on a pair of trousers.” “That was 1986,” Jane said. Which indeed it had been—the summer before Liz had started sixth grade, the Bennets had made a trip to California to visit Mr. Ben- net’s sister, Margo, and to meet the man to whom she had just become engaged, a widower with a three-year-old son. Someone (Mr. and Mrs. Bennet each vehemently denied responsibility) had decided it would be a lark to make the journey by car. Thus the Bennet family had set out from Cincinnati in their minivan, driving roughly five hundred miles a day for five days in a row; at the time, Jane was twelve, Liz eleven, Mary three, Kitty in utero, and Lydia not yet conceived. In Liz’s memory, the trip was a blur of rolling hills becoming flattened prairies, flattened prairies becoming sprawling ranchlands, and ranchlands becoming scrubby desert. In Utah, a detour to see the red rock region had been scuttled due to increasing familial tensions; the mini-van’s backseats had become a mayhem of hair-pulling, girl farts, and toddler squalls that distracted Liz from her powerful wish to reach the end of the tawdry romance she was reading in which a brooding Cheyenne loner inserted his fingers into the most private cavity of a young British heiress while they rode upon the same horse. Liz’s utter thrall to Colt and Jocelyn’s story compelled her to ignore a building nausea that eventually asserted itself with her crying out, “I’m going to be sick!” and vomiting an Egg McMuffin, hash browns, and ketchup onto Mary fifty miles northeast of Sacramento. Liz did sometimes wonder if their relationship had ever properly recovered, and insofar as it hadn’t, she couldn’t blame her sister. By the time the Bennets pulled into the driveway of the home be- longing to Aunt Margo’s new fiancé in Sausalito, the minivan was strewn with food wrappers and socks and discarded Mad Libs books, not only reeking of vomit but also making an unaccountable scraping noise on the rear right side of the undercarriage; the Bennets’ antipathy for one another was of such an intimate variety it was almost like affection. They spilled out of the car and walked up the brick path of a well-tended bungalow, but before they could ring the bell, the front door opened and a small red-haired boy stood before them completely naked. “Dad!” the boy yelled. “They’re here!” His limbs were alabaster, his penis minuscule and, particularly to Mary, bewildering. “Look away, girls!” Mrs. Bennet cried, prompting in Liz and Jane a fit of giggles. This was Cousin Willie and also, obviously, Cousin Willie’s willy. Over the years, the Bennets and the Collinses saw one another in- termittently, and at some point it became apparent that Cousin Willie was a bit of a technology savant. He taught himself to code at thirteen, began advising local businesses on how to bolster their Web presences at fifteen, and dropped out of UCLA during his sophomore year, after selling a company that had developed a proprietary format for transmitting data between servers and Web applications—which was to say, a company no Bennet understood whatsoever—for a rumored $20 million. Now a man of thirty, Willie was running his third or fourth software development start-up. And yet all of the Bennets except Liz and her mother refused to see him as anything other than a naked three-year-old. Mrs. Bennet was clearly intrigued by his money and had once asked Liz a series of probing questions about how he’d received the payment for his first company, questions to which Liz didn’t know the answers. And Liz herself had some years back run into Willie at a technology conference in Las Vegas that she was attending as a journalist and had shared a surprisingly pleasant lunch with him; although the conversation had essentially been a monologue on his part, it had been an interesting monologue, and he was the person who had first told her about Twitter. At the dinner table, Mrs. Bennet said, “Jane, I imagine you’ll be busy with Chip Bingley, but Liz can entertain Willie when he’s here.” “Why will Jane be busy with Chip Bingley?” Kitty asked. With relish, Mrs. Bennet said, “They’re having dinner tomorrow night at Orchids.” Uncertainly, Jane said, “Mom, you haven’t been reading my texts, have you?” Merrily, Lydia said, “She doesn’t know how!” Mrs. Bennet appeared uncontrite. “Helen Lucas mentioned it.” Jane furrowed her eyebrows, which for her reflected genuine pique. “How would Mrs. Lucas know?” Liz cleared her throat. “I think I told Charlotte. But just in passing.” “Chip and I might never see each other again after Saturday.” Jane’s cheeks were flushed. “So please, can everyone not make a big deal out of this? Mom, I’ll have plenty of time to spend with Cousin Willie.” “It was obvious that Chip found you absolutely charming, Jane,” Mrs. Bennet said. “And so he should have. But you’ll have to ask why he didn’t go into private practice. Working in an emergency room, he must see very unattractive people.” Liz, who felt some responsibility for displeasing her sister, said, “I wonder if Willie is interested in visiting the Freedom Center.” “Just so you all know, I have a paper due at the end of next week,” Mary said. “I won’t have much time for Willie or Aunt Margo.” “That’s so heartbreaking,” Lydia said. “I wonder if they’ll ever re- cover from the devastation.” “Well, I look forward to seeing both of them,” Jane said. From the head of the table, Mr. Bennet said, “That makes one of us.”     From the book ELIGIBLE by Curtis Sittenfeld. Copyright © 2016 by Curtis Sittenfeld. Reprinted by arrangement with Random House, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.From the Hardcover edition.

Bookclub Guide

1. 1. Eligible is a modern adaptation of the classic novel Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. Why is this story such a timeless  favorite?2. Which of the sisters do you most identify with, and why? Did that change at all over the course of the novel?3. Were you surprised by Darcy and Liz having “hate sex”? Did it make the novel more or less enjoyable for you?4. What prejudices does Curtis Sittenfeld explore in this adaptation? How do they differ from the prejudices of Austen’s time?5. To what extent do you think the portrayal of modern courtship and mar- riage in this novel is realistic? Do you think Mrs. Bennet’s concern over her daughters’ remaining unmarried into their late thirties is common, or is this an outdated perspective?6. The title Eligible comes from the fictional reality television show Chip Bingley appears on. What do you think the novel has to say about reality TV? Would you go on a show like Eligible?7. On p. 305, Kathy de Bourgh tells Liz, “There’s a belief that to take care of someone else, or to let someone else take care of you—that both are inher- ently 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.” Do you agree or disagree with this sentiment?8. If you’ve read Pride and Prejudice, do you think it is a feminist novel?   Is Eligible?9. The novel closes with Mary’s perspective. Why do you think Curtis Sit- tenfeld chose to conclude the novel with her? How does the choice change your perspective on preceding events?10. What would Jane Austen think of Eligible?

Editorial Reviews

“Even the most ardent Austenite will soon find herself seduced.”—O: The Oprah Magazine   “Blissful . . . [Curtis] Sittenfeld modernizes the classic in such a stylish, witty way you’d guess even Jane Austen would be pleased.”—People (book of the week)   “[A] sparkling, fresh contemporary retelling.”—Entertainment Weekly  “[Sittenfeld] is the ideal modern-day reinterpreter. Her special skill lies not just in her clear, clean writing, but in her general amusement about the world, her arch, pithy, dropped-mike observations about behavior, character and motivation. She can spot hypocrisy, cant, self-contradiction and absurdity ten miles away. She’s the one you want to leave the party with, so she can explain what really happened. . . . Not since Clueless, which transported Emma to Beverly Hills, has Austen been so delightedly interpreted. . . . Sittenfeld writes so well—her sentences are so good and her story so satisfying. . . . As a reader, let me just say: Three cheers for Curtis Sittenfeld and her astute, sharp and ebullient anthropological interest in the human condition.”—Sarah Lyall, The New York Times Book Review“Bold and brilliant.”—Glamour “A clever, uproarious evolution of Austen’s story.”—The Denver Post“If there exists a more perfect pairing than Curtis Sittenfeld and Jane Austen, we dare you to find it. . . . Sittenfeld makes an already irresistible story even more beguiling and charming.”—Elle  “A playful, wickedly smart retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.”—BuzzFeed “Sittenfeld is an obvious choice to re-create Jane Austen’s comedy of manners. [She] is a master at dissecting social norms to reveal the truths of human nature underneath.”—The Millions  “A hugely entertaining and surprisingly unpredictable book, bursting with wit and charm.”—The Irish Times “A delightful romp for not only Austen devotees but also lovers of romantic comedies and sly satire, as well . . . Bestselling Sittenfeld plus Jane Austen? What more could mainstream fiction readers ask for?”—Booklist (starred review)  “Endlessly amusing . . . Her take on Austen’s iconic characters is skillful, her pacing excellent, and her dialog highly entertaining. . . . Austen fans will adore this new offering, a wonderful addition to the genre.”—Library Journal   “An unputdownable retelling of the beloved classic.”—PopSugar “Sittenfeld adeptly updates and channels Austen’s narrative voice—the book is full of smart observations on gender and money. . . . A clever retelling of an old-fashioned favorite.”—Publishers Weekly  “The modernization of this classic story allows for a greater and more humorous range of incompetency and quirks; for example, Mrs. Bennet now has Valium and online shopping to distract her from constant anxiety. These familiar characters must deal with issues far beyond class and the all-important institution of marriage; everything from sexuality to racism to eating disorders and single parenthood factor in. And it’s all written in a giddily charming blend of nineteenth-century novel–meets–twenty-first-century casual swearing. . . . Delight in this tale for its hilarious and endearing family drama.”—Kirkus ReviewsFrom the Hardcover edition.