Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal ~ 320 pages ~ will be published 1/15/19 by Ballantine Books (Random House)
In this retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice set in modern-day Pakistan, the five Binat sisters and their marriage-obsessed mother navigate a world where money trumps morality and double standards rule the day.
A scandal and vicious rumor in the Binat family has destroyed their fortune and prospects for desirable marriages, but Alys, the second and most practical of the five Binat daughters, has found happiness teaching English literature to school girls. Knowing that many of her students won’t make it to graduation without dropping out to marry and start having children, Alys teaches them about Jane Austen and her other literary heroes and hopes to inspire them to dream of more.
When an invitation arrives for the biggest wedding their small town has seen in years, Mrs. Binat excitedly sets to work preparing her daughters to fish for eligible–and rich–bachelors, certain that their luck is about to change. On the first night of the festivities, Alys’s lovely older sister, Jena, catches the eye of one of the most eligible bachelors. But his friend, Valentine Darsee, is clearly unimpressed by the family. Alys accidentally overhears his unflattering assessment of her, quickly dismissing him and his snobbish ways.
But as the days of lavish wedding parties unfold, the Binats wait breathlessly to see if Jena will land a proposal–and Alys begins to realize that Darsee’s brusque manner may be hiding a very different man.
What I Thought:
*I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*
I am a giant Jane Austen fan, so when I saw that there was going to be a modern retelling in Pakistan, I was thrilled! I love when retellings take the original story and rework it to make it into something new and different, but not so much that the original story is lost. Kamal did a great job giving the characters that we all know and love their own modern-day twist, while still keeping the original spirit of each character intact.
I really loved Alys and all of the ways that she still embodied Elizabeth Bennet. I thought it was great that she was a high-school English teacher, and that she was so anti-marriage. I thought this translated very well. She was still a spunky, relatable character who had me cheering her on the entire time.
I didn’t know much about Pakistan before reading this novel. I enjoyed all of the detail about clothing, food, marriage celebrations, traditions, and religious beliefs. It really helped to immerse me in the story. I found it fascinating that so many of the social conventions from Jane Austen’s time translated so well to modern-day Pakistan. I always appreciate when a novel can take me to another culture and make me feel at home and welcome there.
All of that to say, there were a few sections that were a bit too on the nose, in regards to making the story different from the original. But, overall, I loved the similarities as well as the differences. I would absolutely recommend this to any Austen lover, as well as anyone who enjoys being set down into a different culture.
I gave Unmarriageable 4.5 STARS! My Austen-loving heart was so happy reading this book!
Are you interested in learning more about this book? Check out the links below!
Do you like retellings? Are you a huge Austen fan like me? What is your favorite Austen novel? Let’s talk down in the comments!
Love and happy reading,