First things first, I’m not a classics fan. Yes, the only Jane Austen work I’ve read is Pride and Prejudice (and I only just managed to finish 66% of the book before putting it away for the dust-mites.)
Yet, when I was sent an ARC of Austenistan by the kind people of Bloomsbury India (LOVE YOU SO MUCH!), I felt mildly curious. Would I be able to follow the seven short stories in the anthology, with my crutch of not being acquainted with Austen’s works?
Seven dazzling and brilliant short stories later, I hold this book with both my hands and a smile on my face: I thoroughly loved Austenistan. And my dear amigos, I may actually give a second chance to Jane Austen.
Let’s go through the stories one at a time:
- The Fabulous Banker Boys written by Mahlia S Lone is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. No prizes for guessing the names of the two characters who fall in love: Elisha and Mr. Dar (Gettit? Austenites, do you get it? This is the only Austen reference I’ll be able to give you 😀 )
- Begum Saira Returns written by Nida Elley is about a forty plus widow who finds love in the wrong person, her sister’s fiance!
- Emaan Ever After written by Mishayl Naek is about allowing yourself to experience a second chance at love, even if it is with your childhood bestie.
- The Mughal Empire by Saniyya Gauhar is about being snubbed by your dream boy in all matters love, only to be replaced by a social nobody at the altar. And well, of course, finding new love too!
- The Autumn Ball by Gayathri Warnasuriya is a story of a married couple, Maya and Hugo, and how their lives change after the birth of their baby boy. Can they keep the spark alive at the Autumn Ball and dance the night away like they used to?
- Only The Deepest Love by Sonya Rehman is about having a bestie with married-life problems, and being in an “It’s Complicated” relationship simultaneously.
- On The Verge by Laaleen Sukhera is about Roya who discovers that her Princey fiance has been cheating on her, and goes on a blind date on her wedding day. Does the blind date turn out to be a real Prince Charming?
What I loved about this book is that it was not just a book, it was an experience. Right from holding the pink and blue cover book to reading each word on its pages, it felt like I was in the midst of a bunch of Pakistani aunties, all eagerly discussing and making arrangements for the marriage of their respective children. The vivid descriptions of the latest fashion trends, the social life in Pakistan, the hierarchy in the social circles, the vivacity of the conversations and dialogues enveloped me in each story.
Moreover, as I mentioned earlier in the post, I love this book, in spite of being a non-classics fan. That’s because this book puts such a modern tadka to the classic Jane Austens, that every reader will thoroughly enjoy the experience.
I loved all these short stories, and I admire Laaleen Sukhera’s initiative to compile these wondrous short stories together into a blissful delight for Jane Austen fans. A bit more about Laaleen : Laaleen Sukhera is the founder of the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan. Caroline Jane Knight, who is the Founder and Chair of the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation, is currently working with Laaleen to establish the Pakistani Chapter of the Foundation to fund literacy resources for Pakistan. This book comes at an opportune moment, and is quite a reminder to everyone that literary works have no boundaries or barriers.
I give this book a 5/5 star rating, and recommend it to every girl, lady, woman out there. You MUST read it. Or else you’ll be spurned by your Mr. Darcy. 😛