22 January, 2020

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

Book details:
Title : Unmarriageable 
Author : Soniah Kamal
Genre : Romance, Fiction 
Print length: 352 pages
Publisher : Ballantine books
Source : A kindle copy from library 

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 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 Review:

I haven't read Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. So, eventhough it's a retelling of that novel set up in Pakistan,  it felt like a fresh read.

I always like reading the stories about other cultures and people. This story is about the marriage obsession in the society. The obsession of parents to marry their daughters off earlier to rich families is common even in other countries and cultures. So, I could easily relate to it.

The narration is beautiful with wit and humor. Characterization is deep and very well etched. There are more feminist ideologies expressed through the main lead Alys and her friend Sherry. 

I loved the characters and how each one is unique in their own way. Mr.Binat is an ideal father who tries to marry off his daughters to someone who supports them and encourages their intelligence instead of dominating and suppressing their feelings. Alys is fear less, confident woman with a clarity on what she wants in her life. 

This story brings out the double standards in the society for men and women. It touches upon the problems due to patriarchy and body shaming. Overall , a fantastic read. I

Loved these quotes from the book:

For the truth was that behind every successful Pakistani girl who fulfilled a dream stood a father who allowed her to soar instead of clipping her wings, throwing her into a cage, and passing the keys from himself to brother, husband, son, grandson, and so on. 

“As content as a single girl in this country can be when all anyone ever asks her is why she isn’t married yet, and they tell her she better hurry up before her ovaries die. It’s you men who are lucky. You might be asked about your marriage plans, but everyone leaves you alone the second you mention career. If we women mention career, we’re considered aberrations of nature or barren.” 

There was no dowry in Islam. Rather, the groom was required to give haq mehr, the mandatory monetary gift to the bride,

Do you know what is wrong with you, Laila? All those books you read. You just talk like a book now, with no sense of reality.

They say blood is thicker than water. I say to hell with that. If blood mistreats you, better water. And if friends prove false, no matter, find better or be alone and be your own best friend.”

My Rating: 5/5

About the Author :

Soniah Kamal’s debut novel, An Isolated Incident, was a finalist for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and the Karachi Literature Festival–Embassy of France Prize. Her TEDx Talk is about regrets and second chances. Kamal’s award-winning work has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, BuzzFeed, Catapult, and Literary Hub
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