by Soniah Kamal

Overview: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.

Deanna Boe(07/01/19):This is a great “re-take” of Jane Austen’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. A few years back I read another adaptation of this same book, reviewed it, but unfortunately I can’t find what I wrote about it or the name of the book. I do know this is a wonderful variation of Jane Austen’s book! From everything I have ever read about the time frame that Austen wrote about and what I have learned about Pakistan’s culture, the two dovetail perfectly! It simply shows that ethnicity doesn’t matter when it comes to love (or lack of it) and marriage; coupled with the traditions of whatever society found in our world.

Kamal has taken the same theme of five daughters of marriageable age but are not. This family has “fallen” from their higher class status when a brother of their father somehow cheated him out of the family home and the position that went with it. They were forced to move to a community of lesser reputation and a smaller home. All of this makes a vast difference when it comes to marriage and the prominence of the man who might consider marriage with any of these five daughters. It really is quite amazing how the British era in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE could so perfectly fit life in Pakistan today. The “correct” marriage will either elevate or lower the position of the families involved.

The two oldest daughters are already beyond what is considered the perfect age to marry in Pakistan; they are in their early thirties. Their mother is beside herself worrying as to how they will ever get all five daughters married to what she considers the “right” man of the “proper standards” which they so obviously deserve. Amazingly enough they receive a wedding invitation to “the” marriage of the season! This is the mother’s chance to show off each daughter in the best light possible. One must remember in Pakistan a proper and high class marriage is not just one simple ceremony, but many different functions which involves the changing into many glamorous outfits; hopefully this will allow each daughter’s qualities to shine and catch the eye of the perfect man and his family. After all, in Pakistan it is a family decision as to who is the best match for their son or daughter.

All five daughters have unique personalities, right down to one who is basically wild and won’t listen to reason about her behavior. Another is extremely beautiful but unsure how to present herself in the best light. The oldest is exceptionally intelligent and not really into pursuing a man for marriage. Finally, the last two are not only different but unsure of all that is involved in catching a man since one is very religious and the other’s health is not ideal. All of this makes for an interesting outcome. This is an easy book to recommend.
Rating: *****

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