Pride and Prejudice Redux | Fiction Reviews

Austen devotees will rejoice in this respectful cross-cultural update to a beloved classic; this charming tale told by Eliza Bennet's rival will allow enthusiasts to peer through the windows of Mr. Darcy's Pemberly estate

redstar Kamal, Soniah. Unmarriageable. Ballantine. Jan. 2019. 352p. ISBN 9781524799717. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781524799724. Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan may seem like an unusual pairing to some, but the rich cultural backdrop only enhances and breathes new life into Jane Austen’s classic. In this adaptation, the Binat family experiences a reversal of fortune, which lands them in the small town of Dilipabad. Alys, the second daughter of five, works as a teacher to supplement the family’s income. She swears she’ll never marry, but at a wedding festival, she meets Valentine Darcee, whose sensitivities hide behind his churlish veneer. Meanwhile, Mrs. Binat uses the wedding to parade her daughters in front of the rich bachelors in attendance, causing quite a stir. Kamal (An Unfortunate Incident ) boldly embraces this treasured love story, creating a version solely her own. An Austen fan herself, the author remains faithful to the original story while giving readers insight into Pakistani culture in a modern retelling both enlightening and entertaining. The dialog sparkles with sharp humor, which will dazzle readers with counterparts of the original.
VERDICT Austen devotees will rejoice in this respectful cross-cultural update of a beloved classic. [See Prepub Alert, 7/30/18.]—Julie Whiteley, Stephenville, TX

McCrosky, Judy. Miss BingleyRequests. Crooked Lane. Nov. 2018. 336p. ISBN 9781683318378. $26.99; pap. ISBN 9781786154750. $21.99; ebk. ISBN 9781786154743. F
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is reimagined through the eyes of the “other woman.” Self-absorbed Caroline Bingley believes neither love nor empathy should come before the Bingley family’s fortune and social standing. For years she has planned to marry the aloof, wealthy, and sophisticated Mr. Darcy, best friend to her brother Charles—even though Darcy has never mentioned it. But when Charles leases a country estate, the group is bombarded by their neighbors, the Bennet family. Charles is smitten with Jane, and Mr. Darcy is mesmerized by carefree and outspoken Eliza. Not only does Eliza Bennet threaten her plans, but the charismatic Mr. Tryphon sends Caroline into an improper dither with his touch. Caroline must decide if securing a station in high society is more important than true love.
VERDICT With original passages from Pride and Prejudice unusually woven into the story, this charming tale told by Eliza Bennet’s rival will allow enthusiasts to peer through the windows of Mr. Darcy’s Pemberley estate, wondering who will marry whom.—K.L. Romo, Duncanville, TX

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