Book Review: Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 352 pages

Published: January 22, 2019

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Genre:  Fiction & Literature, Romance

Synopsis:

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.


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You would think that another Pride and Prejudice variation would fill me with joy. Unfortunately, it sometimes fills me with hesitation. I have read other Austen variations and I am sorry to say they have been quite downers. So when I came across Unmarriageable I was reluctant at first. But then, I decided to give it a chance and I am so glad I did.

This is so far my favorite modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. While reading through this amazing novel, there were times I completely forgot that I was reading an adaptation, a feature I love when I read this type of retellings. I look for adaptations that can stand on its own two feet and this novel definitely does it. The writing was superb. Kamal manages to match Austen’s wit and humor. I found myself laughing out loud whether I was listening to the audiobook while cleaning or reading the e-book in my comfiest chair. Nothing can come close to Austen’s style of writing but the storytelling of Unmarriageable makes it a close second.

For those who say the classics in no way reflect modern times needs to read this novel. The way the author adapted this classic story to contemporary times was astounding. The social commentary this novel is spot on and really reflects the modern times. I think that the reason that this story worked so well due to the setting the story took place. The social norms and expectations of Pakistan are different to countries compared to the US and the UK. If the story took place there, the tale would be less believable.

The creation of the characters’ name was very innovative and imaginative. Kamal manages to match the names and, more importantly, the personalities of the original characters. My only complaint is that the ending felt a little rushed to me. One minute I am engrossed in the story and then the next I am already at the conclusion. I just wish Kamal spent a little more time, not only developing the ending but making it a bit longer.

So, Jane Austen fans, rejoice! There is finally an Austen adaptation we can be proud of. Kamal captures the Austen magic that we long for in our Austen retellings. Even Mrs. Bennet will enjoy this book, especially the toll it will take on her poor nerves. But, even without the Austen characteristic (heaven forbid!), this is one enjoyable read that can stand on its own feet.

Overall rating: 4 out of  5 stars

Get It At: Amazon |Barnes & Noble|Book Depository|IndieBoundYour local library

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