Unmarriageable Hardcover – 15 Jan 2019
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`This sumptuous book is so refreshingly relatable to young Asian women today ... A compelling story about marriage, class and sisterhood' Asian Image; `This inventive retelling of Pride and Prejudice charms' People; `A witty delight that will leave you wishing for more' New York Journal of Books; `Endearing ... Kamal's story seems to have all the ingredients that make Pride and Prejudice's retelling an exciting, dramatic and fun South Asian adaptation complete with big, fat desi weddings, modern Pakistani women, affluent bachelors and the unrelenting quest for love' Forbes; `As with Austen, whose books could be read as fun and simple romances or acerbic examinations of class and women's choices (and lack thereof), Kamal's Unmarriageable succeeds in being both a deliciously readable romantic comedy and a commentary on class in post-colonial, post-partition Pakistan, where the effects of the British Empire still reverberate ... Both a fun, page-turning romp and a thought-provoking look at the class-obsessed strata of Pakistani society' NPR; `Delightful ... Unmarriageable introduces readers to a rich Muslim culture. It's Pakistan circa 2001, when women's rights were expanding but religious attitudes were becoming more strict. [Kamal] observes family dramas with a satiric eye and treats readers to sparkling descriptions of a dayslong wedding ceremony, with its high-fashion pageantry and higher social stakes' Star Tribune; `Thoroughly charming' The New York Post; `Kamal masterfully transports Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice from Regency England to modern-day Pakistan in this excellent retelling ... [A] funny, sometimes romantic, often thought-provoking glimpse into Pakistani culture, one which adroitly illustrates the double standards women face when navigating sex, love and marriage. This is a must-read for devout Austenites' Publishers Weekly *starred review*; `Kamal's Unmarriageable is a book simmering with life, language, intellect - and delicious Pakistani cuisine. It will leave readers' hearts and souls content and their mouths watering' Katherine Chen, author of Mary B; `A delight from start to finish, Soniah Kamal's retelling of Pride and Prejudice has all the sly social commentary and bright, biting humour of the original, but aimed at thoroughly modern issues. It's also the perfect book for the armchair traveler, offering an insider's view into a fascinating country and culture - including a peek at what the wedding of the year looks like in Pakistan. This one is going directly on my keeper shelf; I loved it' Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Almost Sisters; `[A] charming update to the original ... Kamal's version of the classic novel highlights issues of colonialism, race, and Pakistani identity. Her insights are pointed and smart. Put your feet up and enjoy. It's a delicious book' Kirkus Reviews; `Unmarriageable is a joy to read! It transforms a familiar story into something new and fresh and different, but keeps all of the warmth and intelligence of the original. I loved everything about these characters and spending time in their world' Jasmine Guillory, USA Today bestselling author of The Wedding Date; `Charming and insightful, Soniah Kamal's Unmarriageable connects the concerns of women across time and cultures' Vanessa Hua, author of A River of Stars; `Soniah Kamal has gifted us a refreshing update of a timeless classic. Unmarriageable raises an eyebrow at a society which views marriage as the ultimate prize for women. Crackling with dialogue, family tensions, humour and rich details of life in contemporary Pakistan, Unmarriageable tells an entirely new story about love, luck and literature' Balli Kaur Jaswal, author of Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows; `Unmarriageable is a joyride featuring all the beloved Austen characters with a Pakistani twist, drawing on universal themes of love, passion, and the healing nature of tea. I read it in one gulp!' Amulya Malladi, bestselling author of A House for Happy Mothers and The Mango Season; `Irreverent, witty, and imaginative. Readers will be surprised by the similarities between the customs and manners of 19th century England and those of modern-day Pakistan. Austen herself would have enjoyed Kamal's deft retelling of her novel, while sipping a cup of chai' Thrity Umrigar, bestselling author of The Space Between Us; `Unmarriageable offers an incisive, loving look at the society it puts under the microscope. Kamal's splendid novel is not only light, bright, and sparkling, it's also sassy, direct, sharp, and funny. Heroine Alysba Binat and her sisters - Jena, Mari, Lady, and Qitty -navigate a shallow world of luxury and privilege that pushes them toward advantageous, empty marriages, rather than happily-ever-afters. Fortunately, some of them have read their Austen' Devoney Looser, 2018 Guggenheim fellow and author of The Making of Jane Austen; `Unmarriageable is a rollicking good ride. The opulent landscape of Pakistan's moneyed (and unmoneyed) social elite is exactly the kind of modern update Pride and Prejudice needs. This is one of those books that are hard to put down' S. J. Sindu; `The dialogue sparkles with sharp humour, which will dazzle readers with counterparts of the original ... Austen devotees will rejoice in this respectful cross-cultural update of a beloved classic' Library Journal *starred review*; `Told with wry wit and colourful prose, Unmarriageable is a charming update on Jane Austen's beloved novel and an exhilarating exploration of love, marriage, class, and sisterhood' Book Browse; `Unmarriageable was such a great story that I forced myself to slow down reading it. I loved the revisions of familiar characters in a new setting. This novel is full of Pakistani flavour, but it's still quite accessible to anyone with a gossipy auntie or a handsome crush' The Fiction Addiction; `Go ahead and make plans to give this to yourself as a belated Christmas gift. You won't regret it' K. S. Watts; `Soniah Kamal's witty reimagining is a thoroughly modern one' Heat
About the Author
SONIAH KAMAL is an award-winning writer whose debut novel was a finalist for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and the KLF French Fiction Prize. Her work has appeared in many publications including the New York Times, The Guardian and Buzzfeed. She was born in Pakistan, grew up in England and Saudi Arabia and currently resides in the US.
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But honestly I am glad I acted on my instinct and picked this one up, because this was a really charming retelling, that managed to transport this timeless tale (plot and characters in tow) across oceans and eras, while staying true to the spirit & essence of the story!
Though I have to admit that at times I hoped that it did not stick as close to the original as it did. But well it's a tricky balance when it comes to adapting classics, so I understand, even if I personally wished for more creative deviation.
That being said, I have to mention that the one thing that struck me as odd was that Alys (Liz's Pakistani doppelganger) brought up Austen & Pride & Prejudice quite often in this book. Which was not a problem in and of itself, even though it was kind of meta and all that. But what I felt was a bit weird, especially after repeated mentions, was that even the seemingly perceptive Alys never reflected or remarked on how closely her life was following the classic script. You know what I mean?
But be that as it may, it was still very entertaining to revisit this familiar tale in a new setting. And in many ways it was everything I expected and more. It was intense, yet charming, entertaining, and still socially relevant addressing and challenging several socio-cultural norms, all within the framework of the classic source material.
The only real grouse I have with this book is that the romance was a little rushed and lackluster. Which was a bummer especially because there was so much untapped potential there. BUT, I will not hold that against this book, because in one very important way - this adaptation was better than the original (hear me out!).
Because at-least in this version I can be sure that Alys fell in love with Darsee first, and not his estate. Unlike Liz from P&P (which btw I still adore the story minus this niggling suspicion), who I have always felt fell in love with Pemberley first, and then Darcy by extension. There, I said it!
All in All: This is was an insightful, sort of intense, yet witty and entertaining, and very feminist retelling of a story that is clearly timeless in its appeal. Which is why I highly recommend it to all P&P fans. But honestly, even if you aren't a fan of the classic tale, you might enjoy this one, because like I mentioned earlier, on some counts, it's much better than the original.
- Shantala at Shanaya Tales
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions, as always, are completely mine.
I have never read Pride and Prejudice but maybe that was a good thing as had nothing to cloud my view of this one.
Highly recommend if you like a good story
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The re-telling of Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan is delightful on so many levels. Acknowledging those universal truths, but also pulling the reader into the unique lives of Alys and Darsee, Jena and Bungles, and Mr. and Mrs. Binat.
Will appeal to Janeites, lovers of love stories, and people who enjoy a window into other contemporary cultures.