Unmarriageable by Sonia Kamal is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen set in Pakistan. The plot follows Pride and Prejudice almost exactly.
I felt there was a difference in the character’s personalities but unfortunately that difference was not good for me. I did not like Alys (Elizabeth) for most of the book, she felt uptight and so forceful of her opinion on marriage and women that I just didn’t care for her at all. I understood that the author was sharing her views on the culture of women and marriage but unlike the more subtle way Austen shares those themes I felt like the views were being told and shown to me. I generally prefer to discover on my own when reading rather than having things spelled out to me. Though I love many of the characters in Pride and Prejudice, I can’t think of any character that I liked in Unmarriageable. The Binat sisters were so horribly mean to one another that I cringed whenever they were around. There was also so many rude comments from every character that I came away wondering if that really is the way people speak to each other in Pakistan and if so, I now have no desire to ever go there. There also seemed to be a big focus on the way people looked, from weight to clothes. The author did try to resolve some of the weight focus at the end but by then it was to hard to get the theme of, you have to look perfect to be of any worth, out of my head.
The setting of Pakistan was what made the book for me. I found the details of life in modern upper class Pakistan fascinating. I have never read anything in such a setting and came away with a very different view and perspective of Pakistan. I listened to the audiobook which is read by the author and I’m really glad I did because it feel much more like a Pakistanian experience than if I was reading it.
Reading this retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in a different time and culture helped me to see that so many of life’s challenges and themes are universally the same. I loved the reminder that we often have more in common with people different than ourselves than we think.
I received a copy of Unmarriageable from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review