I have read books by this author before, but so long ago that I don’t remember much about them. However, when I read the synopsis for this one and realized it’s a desi retelling of P&P, I was just so happy. I also loved that this was set in US, because I can relate more to diaspora stories these days than those set completely in India. And this one both impressed and frustrated the hell out of me.
Trisha is an accomplished neurosurgeon who takes immense pride in her job but is quite socially inept. She also immensely loves her family, but has a lot of guilt for something that she did fifteen years ago which affected her brother Yash and soured her relationship with her father. She is compassionate and a problem solver and I loved her relationship with her sister and cousins and her grandmother. However, despite working hard to achieve her goals, she has been born to extreme privilege and it shows. She also frequently puts her foot in her mouth because she isn’t good at talking or expressing her feelings.
DJ is a chef who has left everything he worked for and is almost bankrupt trying to save his sister suffering from a tumor in her brain. He feels almost spiritual about his cooking and takes immense pleasure in seeing people enjoy and appreciate his food. He has also suffered a lot in his life, bullied and tormented and left homeless by his own father’s family, so he feels very hurt when Trisha makes insensitive comments about him and doesn’t see his concerns in tricky situations because of her own privilege. That makes him retaliate with his own harsh words.
Both these characters hurt each other a lot, both knowingly and unknowingly, argue all the time and even though I saw that they were attracted to each other, I didn’t completely feel invested in their relationship. I just wanted them to stop hating each other. Even though they both are good people, I think I wanted to be convinced that they could be great together too, which I didn’t get in the book. Their getting together felt too much like the end of P&P and I don’t think that translates well to a contemporary setting.
The author does a good job bringing the Raje family to life. We get to know their history, how the kids have been brought up, their beliefs and values and I think it was all well done. The family is very close to each other and I think that reflected on the page. The author also shows that despite being good people and working towards the betterment of society, both personally and politically, they all are still creatures of privilege and can be tone deaf and insensitive to other’s issues. For all their talk about family loyalty, they are all very quick to judge Trisha for her choices and make her feel more guilty all the time and I didn’t like it. Trisha is such an accomplished woman in her thirties but cowers in front of her father, and even though we are taught in our Indian culture to be very respectful of parents, I particularly hate when parents take advantage of this and emotionally manipulate their children which is what happens here. Even though everything works out towards the end, I think Trisha should have grown a bit of a backbone and stood up for herself instead of everyone just behaving as if it was all ok now.
This book is only a loose gender bent retelling of Pride and Prejudice which focuses mostly on the character’s pride and prejudices. It is a mostly realistic portrayal of different kinds of families and how class privilege can affect the perceptions of people towards others. Just don’t go into this expecting a lot of romance. It is an interesting read and I didn’t wanna put it down at all, but I also wanted something more from the characters.
PS: Thank you to William Morrow, Netgalley and Edelweiss for providing me with this advance copy. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.