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Elizabeth Curtis Sittenfeld (born 1975) is an American writer. She is the author of a collection of short stories as well as five novels: Prep, the tale of a Massachusetts prep school; The Man of My Dreams, a coming-of-age novel and an examination of romantic love; American Wife, a fictional story loosely based on the life of First Lady Laura Bush; Sisterland, which tells the story of identical twins with psychic powers; and Eligible, a modern-day Pride and Prejudice.
|Born||Elizabeth Curtis Sittenfeld|
August 23, 1975
Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
|Relatives||P.G. Sittenfeld (brother)|
Background and educationEdit
Sittenfeld was born August 23, 1975, in Cincinnati, Ohio, the second of four children (three girls and a boy). Her mother, Elizabeth "Betsy" Curtis (Bascom), is an art history teacher and librarian at Seven Hills School, a private school in Cincinnati, and her father, Paul George Sittenfeld, is an investment adviser. Her brother, P.G., is a member of the Cincinnati City Council. She is of "half-Catholic, half-Jewish" background.
She attended Seven Hills School through the eighth grade, then attended high school at Groton School, a boarding school in Groton, Massachusetts, graduating in 1993. In 1992, the summer before her senior year, she won Seventeen magazine's fiction contest.
She attended Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York before transferring to Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. At Stanford, she studied creative writing, wrote articles for the college newspaper, and edited that paper's weekly arts magazine. At the time, she was also chosen as one of Glamourʼs College Women of the Year. She went on to earn an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa.
Her first novel, Prep, which took her three years to write, was published in 2005 and concerns a girl, Lee Fiora, from South Bend, Indiana, who goes to Ault School, an elite boarding school near Boston, Massachusetts. Some think Ault is a thinly veiled Groton School, but others say it is based on the two years Sittenfeld spent teaching at St. Albans School in Washington, D.C. The plot deals with coming of age, self-identity, and class distinctions in the preppy and competitive atmosphere.
Reviews of Prep were mixed, with views ranging from highly laudatory to those who said that it was a well-written but weakly plotted story that was buoyed by strong detail and narration. Some saluted the book for its verisimilitude, including Elissa Schappell, who wrote in the New York Times Review of Books: "Sittenfeld's dialogue is so convincing that one wonders if she didn't wear a wire under her hockey kilt." The New York Times named Prep one of their top five works of fiction for 2005.
Less positively, a review in Publishers Weekly stated, "The book meanders on its way, light on plot, but saturated with heartbreaking humor and written in clean prose. Sittenfeld . . . proves herself a natural in this poignant, truthful book." Critics have also questioned how much of the story is pure memoir instead of fiction..
The Man of My DreamsEdit
Sittenfeld's second novel, called The Man of My Dreams, was published in May 2006 by Random House. It follows a girl named Hannah from the end of her 8th grade year through her college years at Tufts and into her late twenties. Both in comparison to Prep and other novels, The Man of My Dreams has gathered mixed reviews with much of the same praise and criticism Prep has garnered.
Sittenfeld's third novel, called American Wife (2008), is the tale of Alice Blackwell, a fictional character who shares many similarities with former First Lady Laura Bush. In the novel, Blackwell is an only child who grows up in a Democratic family. As a high school student, Blackwell kills a friend in an auto accident. She also has an illegal abortion and discovers that her grandmother is a secret lesbian. She meets, falls in love with, and marries the wild son of an elite Republican family. Her husband rises in politics to the office of president, and, although Blackwell staunchly disagrees with her husband's politics, she continues to love him.
Eligible was published on April 19, 2016 by Random House. It is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in Cincinnati, Ohio. The protagonist, Liz, is one of five sisters who have perplexed their mother by not marrying. When Liz's father, Mr. Bennet, falls ill, Liz and her older sister, Jane, return to Cincinnati to help their mother and father for the summer. Mrs. Bennet, a country-club going social climber, takes the opportunity to play match-maker for her daughters. Throughout the time at home, Liz, Jane, and her three other sisters illustrate the joys and struggles of love, romance, duty, and family.
You Think It, I'll Say ItEdit
- Curtis Sittenfeld (May 19, 2014). "Confessions of a Prep-School Feminist". The New Yorker. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
- Wood, Gaby. "The old school ties that dominate America". Guardian. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
- "Glamour's top 10 college women 1996". Glamour. v. 94, n. 10. October 1996. 108.
- Reon Carter. "Local college senior makes Glamour's top 10". The Cincinnati Enquirer. September 21, 1996. C2.
- Stuever, Hank. "Move Over, Holden". Washington Post. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
- Curtissittenfeld.com Archived October 1, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- The Ten Best Books of 2005," The New York Times Book Review, December 11, 2005.
- Kakutani, Michiko (August 28, 2008). "First Lady, Second Version". The New York Times (New York Edition): E21. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
- Mike Fleming Jr. "Ron Nyswaner To Script Curtis Sittenfeld Novel 'American Wife'". Deadline. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
- "Bookpage.com". 2013.
- Groskop, Viv (June 2, 2013). "Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld - A Review". The Guardian (The Observer - US Edition). Retrieved March 21, 2017.
- Carol Motsinger. "Will Cincinnati's Mr. Darcy dine at Boca?". Retrieved September 3, 2015.
- "Report: Curtis Sittenfeld's book 'Eligible' headed to TV". Cincinnati.com. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
- "You Think It, I'll Say It". Penguin Random House. Retrieved April 27, 2018.