I know retellings are all the rage recently. It looks like I am late to catch up, like every other trend out there. Retelling, a relatively new genre, refer to a new version of a familiar classic maybe in a modernized set up or imagined from a different point of view. After a lot of persuasion (wink.. wink..), I picked Unmarriageable, a new version of Pride and Prejudice.
About the book
Book Name: Unmarriageable
Author: Soniah Kamal
Characters: Jena, Alysba, Mari, Qitty, Lady, Mrs. Pinkie, Mr Barak (The Binats), Valentino Darsee, Bungles Bingla, Jujeen Darsee, Sherry Looclas, Fahad Kaleen
Unmarriageable, set in Pakistani background, follows the Pride and Prejudice to the T revolving around the five daughters of Mr and Mrs Binat. Their elder daughters Jena and Alysba work in a school nearby and meet their counterparts “Bungles” Bingla and Valentino Darsee in a wedding.
While Jena and Bungles like each other right from the start, Darsee looks down upon the Binats, thanks to the actions of their dramatic sister and materialistic mother. Alys finds Darsee to be haughty and vain, and she befriends Jeorgeulla Wickaam, Darsee’s cousin who further tarnishes his image.
Soon the Binat family hates him and when Bungles leaves the town without proposing to Jena, they assume it was Darsee’s doing. Do they end up together forms the rest of Unmarriageable.
My initial thoughts
I picked Unmarriageable because I missed Jane Austen and wanted to get into her world, and Unmarriageable did exactly that. I could see the Austen’s characters in Soniah Kamal’s and it stayed true to the original. The sub plots of Kaleen and Sherry (Colleen – Charlotte) and the way they had been adapted to the modern Pakistan fit perfectly.
While I understand it is a retelling, I wish the author had explored the characters deeper. Lady’s character was a cliche and I felt there was more scope for development, given the period it is set in.
I couldn’t avoid feeling it was weird that the characters discuss so much about Austen and even a character talks about Alys being similar to Lizzie, but they didn’t figure out they were literally acting like them. A glaring plot hole maybe?
Things that worked for me
- Unmarriageable stayed true to the original Pride and Prejudice, in terms of social commentary and the plot.
- I loved many of the desi version of the characters like Sherry and Kaleen.
- There are parts where the author shines, especially where she had changed Austen’s text to suit her narration.
Things that didn’t work for me
- Maybe, Unmarriageable was too close the original and I found it unimaginative at places.
- There were places that the prose to be dragging.
- I didn’t find the charm of the Lizzie Bennet in Alysba, but that might be a personal bias.
While there are lot of things that I wish were better with Unmarriageable, but as a retelling the author succeeds in making me fell nostalgic about Pride and Prejudice. I am still on the lookout for a better retelling of Pride and Prejudice. If you know any, let me know.
Let us chat
Have you read this one? Do you like reading retellings? If so, what is favorite retelling book? Let us chat.