Back in high school, I was given a book that was a somewhat contemporary take on Sleeping Beauty titled A Kiss In Time by Alex Flinn. It was honestly my first time to encounter a book that remade a classic tale, and one that is outside the realms of film (yes, I’m looking at you, Tim Burton.) And I say “somewhat contemporary” because it still had elements of magic in it.
Fast-forward a few years, more classic tales are being rewritten to suit the present times and tastes from Greek mythology to works of well-loved authors like Jane Austen. Focusing on the latter, a project was formed called The Austen Project, where they gathered authors to reimagine and put a modern spin on her six novels. So far, four of these novels have been released, with the most recent one Eligible—Curtis Sittenfeld’s version of Pride and Prejudice—revealed just the other day.
While we have yet to see the contents of this book as it’ll be released April 21, we thought we’d give some of our two cents about the idea, and how it’ll possibly fare to the public compared to its predecessors.
The good side: Accessibility to a wider audience
The goal of The Austen Project is basically to resonate with the younger generation who have grown to love modern young adult fiction and romance. This also includes those who just weren’t into old-timey novels like Jane Austen’s. But while Eligible is a reworked and a more 21st century version of Pride and Prejudice, the author still held true to the story’s theme of women being pressured into marriage, and made it more relatable to the said audience.
In an interview, Curtis says, “Obviously a woman’s financial well-being does not hinge on getting married anymore as it did then; but at the same time there’s certainly still social pressure to marry. Especially if you get to the age of, say, 40, people might wonder why. They might think: Are you not married because you don’t want to be? Or are you not married because you couldn’t meet the right person? Did you want children?”
Another plus to this story is that at least this novel doesn’t include flesh-eating zombies and other monstrosities. (Seriously, though. Who thought of that?)
The downside: Are people ready for this?
While we think it’s great that the project has gone out of its way to rewrite all six of the novels, and publishing four of them, it seems that many people still prefer the original. Reader reviews on the previous books Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope, Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid, and Emma by Alexander McCall Smith were all mixed, saying that no one can replace Jane’s works no matter how you “modernize” it.
But hey, to each his own, right?
Photo courtesy of Curtis Sittenfeld’s Facebook page