Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

by Soniah Kamal
Random House Publishing
January 15, 2019
354 pages

Plot: A scandal and vicious rumor concerning the Binat family have 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 schoolgirls. Knowing that many of her students won’t make it to graduation before dropping out to marry and have children, Alys teaches them about Jane Austen and her other literary heroes and hopes to inspire the girls to dream of more.

When an invitation arrives to the biggest wedding their small town has seen in years, Mrs. Binat, certain that their luck is about to change, excitedly sets to work preparing her daughters to fish for rich, eligible bachelors. On the first night of the festivities, Alys’s lovely older sister, Jena, catches the eye of Fahad “Bungles” Bingla, the wildly successful—and single—entrepreneur. But Bungles’s friend Valentine Darsee is clearly unimpressed by the Binat family. Alys accidentally overhears his unflattering assessment of her and quickly dismisses him and his snobbish ways. 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 from the one she saw at first glance. (2019, Goodreads.com)

Review: Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal is a fun and witty retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in modern-day Pakistan. You will definitely make connections between Kamal's characters and those in the classic story since many of the names are similar.  In Unmarriageable you see how Austen's stories about relationships and societal expectations about women and courting truly are "universal" and still experienced today.  I loved learning about Pakistani culture and I felt Kamal did a great job in retelling this Austen classic. I found it a little difficult to keep up with the names and nicknames of some non-main characters, but I still enjoyed the story and could follow along just fine.  

All the main characters and their personalities resembled the Austen characters pretty well, even their interactions with each other and storyline followed the classic story closely.  There is still plenty of Pakistani culture infused into Kamal's story that makes it a lovely and unique retelling that I would recommend to any Austen fan.  From hypocrisy and double standards to survival and security, Kamal did an excellent job showing us all sides to the cultural aspects of women and marriage. An enjoyable story from start to finish!  I would love to read a Pakistani retelling of Persuasion as well!   

*A DRC was given for an honest review.

Rating:  4 Hearts!

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