cover image Unmarriageable


Soniah Kamal. Ballantine, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-1-5247-9971-7

Kamal (An Isolated Incident) masterfully transports Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice from Regency England to modern-day Pakistan in this excellent retelling. Alys Binat, 30, and her sister, Jena, 32, are teachers at the British School of Dilipabad and are considered spinsters by the standards of their community and their obsessively matchmaking mother, who still grieves the loss of the Binats’ wealthy lifestyle years ago after they were bilked by a family member. Upon receiving invitations to the wedding of a family friend, Mrs. Binat turns her considerable talents to preparing her five daughters to land rich husbands to secure their family’s future. Enter the handsome, genial Fahad “Bungles” Bengla, who is instantly taken with Jena, and his best friend, the intense Valentine Darsee, who wastes little time offending Alys’s pride and earning her scorn. What ensues is a funny, sometimes romantic, often thought-provoking glimpse into Pakistani culture, one which adroitly illustrates the double standards women face when navigating sex, love, and marriage. This is a must-read for devout Austenites. (Jan.)