Vanity, a little flattered and a little piqued, tends to lead to enthusiasm. This in essence is what happens to Mr. Darcy in Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. And this is what happens to the heroes and one heroine in the following four books. Some of these books like Austen’s are a comedy of manners and some are genre romances, but they are all witty and entertaining and not to be missed.
Pride by Ibi Zoboi (Sep 2018)
Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.
When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground as their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.
But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in her neighborhood’s changing landscape.
Umarriageable by Soniah Kamal (Jan 2019)
A scandal and vicious rumor concerning the Binat family in Pakistan has 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.
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, a wildly successful 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, Alys begins to realize that Darsee’s brusque manner may be hiding a very different man from the one she saw at first glance.
The best part of the book was how closely it adhered to Austen’s story with some deviations, and it showed how modern-day Pakistani society is similar to the society of Austen’s life two hundred years ago.
Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev (May 2019)
Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s most acclaimed neurosurgeon. But that’s not enough for the Rajes, her influential immigrant family who’s achieved power by making its own non-negotiable rules. Never trust an outsider. Never do anything to jeopardize your brother’s political aspirations. And never, ever, defy your family.
Trisha is guilty of breaking all three rules. But now she has a chance to redeem herself. So long as she doesn’t repeat old mistakes.
Up-and-coming chef DJ Caine has known people like Trisha before, people who judge him by his rough beginnings and place pedigree above character. He needs the lucrative job the Rajes offer, but he values his pride too much to indulge Trisha’s arrogance. And then he discovers that she’s the only surgeon who can save his sister’s life.
This book turns the characters on end. It makes Trisha the arrogant and wealthy one while Caine is the one with humble origins.
(Frolic review forthcoming.)
Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin (Jun 2019)
Ayesha Shamsi dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal.
Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid, who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and who dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.
When a surprise engagement is announced between Khalid and Hafsa, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.
(Frolic review forthcoming.)