Reading · Writing

Book review: Unmarrigeable by Soniah Kamal

Genre: Fiction/ retelling

Rating: 5/5

Plot:

In this one-of-a-kind retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in modern-day Pakistan, Alys Binat has sworn never to marry–until an encounter with one Mr. Darsee at a wedding makes her reconsider.
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.

Told with a wry wit and colorful prose, Unmarriageable is a charming update on Jane Austen’s beloved novel, and an exhilarating exploration of love, marriage, class, and sisterhood.

My verdict: A funny take on a classic novel that doesn’t stereotype Pakastanis and looks at the eastern culture and ideas on marriage and women with a critical eye without being too serious. The narrator Alysba is headstrong and independent much like Elizabeth in the Jane Austen classic without being disparaging of her culture and traditions. The novel also warns us of the dangers of pride and when we climb the social hierarchy and what happens when we fall again. This book is almost like watching a Bollywood musical with traditions and good morals at the core. Somahl tells us that it is time to join hands with our sisters and fight for independence for women in the east and what women are capable of when a fire is lit in their bellies and what happens when they are allowed to burn brightly. I read this book in two days, it is a must read for fans of Kaled Hosseni and Rumi. Make room for Soniah please, Malala yousafi. I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next. Well done for being brave about writing eastern taboos.

Image courtesy of Soniah Kamal. Please click it to purchase your copy.

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