• Unmarriageable

  • A Novel
  • By: Soniah Kamal
  • Narrated by: Soniah Kamal
  • Length: 10 hrs and 52 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (238 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"This inventive retelling of Pride and Prejudice charms." (People)

Alys Binat has sworn never to marry - until an encounter with one Mr. Darsee at a wedding makes her reconsider.

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’ lovely older sister, Jena, catches the eye of Fahad “Bungles” Bingla, the wildly successful - and single - entrepreneur. 

But Bungles’ 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.

Praise for Unmarriageable:

“Thoroughly charming.” (New York Post)

“[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.” (Publishers Weekly)

©2019 Soniah Kamal (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“This inventive retelling of Pride and Prejudice charms.” (People)

“As with Austen, whose books could be read as fun and simple romances or acerbic examinations of class and women's choices (and lack thereof), Kamal's Unmarriageable succeeds in being both a deliciously readable romantic comedy and a commentary on class in post-colonial, post-partition Pakistan, where the effects of the British Empire still reverberate.... Both a fun, page-turning romp and a thought-provoking look at the class-obsessed strata of Pakistani society.” (NPR) 

"Distinctly entertaining.... Kamal uses her comedy of manners, infused with tender humor, to comment on the sorry state of affairs for too many young women from this part of the Indian subcontinent.... If Jane Austen lived in modern-day Pakistan, this is the version of Pride and Prejudice she might have written.” (Shelf Awareness, starred review) 

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P&P with a "Citizen of the World" perspective

Since I've lived in both the East and the West and since I'm an ardent Janeite, I found so much to love about this book. The author delivers a thoughtfully feminist interpretation of Pride and Prejudice in the context of a culture more Victorian than Victorian England. She also celebrates the bravery and skill it takes to live anywhere and adapt successfully. It's fun to make notice where she deviates away from the original plot to render the story more contemporary and consistent with modern life. It was also fun to note the slight variation in accents in characters with different socio-economic situations. I wanted to listen in one fell swoop!

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Could be entertaining if not for unlikable heroine

It started really well and I was very excited to learn about Pakistani culture and new setting seemed to have fit perfectly. Yet, by the middle of the book I came to dislike Alys ("Lizzy") more and more for her being not witty and charming, but rude and disrespectful. By the time she calls "Darcy" "It" ("It has a sense of humor") and others laughed, I was ready to take sides of those characters in the book that thought negatively of her. I could not help but stopped listening in anger when Alys showered Darcy with insults after his proposal. I saw no reason for him to even like her! And there he was meekly listing their similarities. There I stopped and going to return the book.

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Author as narrator -Perfectly excellent

I rarely write reviews but, I must call attention to the narration of this lovely little novel narrated by the writer. It is absolutely perfect. Soniah Kamel has an elegant, satisfyingly feminine voice (without being girlish) and the ability to capture every nuance, every emotions of the characters she writes about. I rarely like a narrator on first listen, though I often get accustomed and forget about any inadequacies, but Kamel's narration is so wonderful I just want to listen to her all day.

3 people found this helpful

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Delightful and Unexpected

I am a card carrying member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. My opinions on Austen have been featured in many publications. I’ve hosted multiple Jane Austen retreats and even an online conference with speakers and Austen scholars from around the world. So, you could say I’m a fan. As many times as I’ve read Pride and Prejudice, this parallel retelling surprised and delighted me. It was fresh, funny, poignant, thought provoking and thoroughly enjoyable. Even if you are not a fan of Austen, you’ll like this book. I loved the delicious descriptions of beautiful people, clothing, food and art. The author paints a picture with words so vivid it will stay with you long after you’re done with the book. Soniah Kamal does an absolutely superb job narrating. It’s hard to believe she is the author because she’s such a captivating and entertaining actor! This Janeite highly recommends Unmarriageable. You’re welcome.

2 people found this helpful

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Beautifully Read. Hysterically Funny.

Not all authors are good narrators, but Soniah Kamal reads her work wonderfully! She knows what her characters sound like and she brings this very funny story to life. I’ve listened to many Jane Austen fan fiction books (and even narrated some myself) but this one is a jewel. Set in Pakistan in the early 2000s it addresses many modern and timeless issues. I say don’t miss Unmarriageable!

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Delightful!!!

I found "Unmarriageable" a delight from beginning to end. The premise is immediately engaging: in effect, a modern-day setting of a tale that effectively parallels "Pride and Prejudice", but set in Pakistan, with wonderful and unexpected twists that enable it at once to stay true to its inspiration and to offer insightful, often funny, and sometimes moving commentaries on cultural mores and expectations. Further astonishing to me is that the superb narrator is actually the author herself. Brava!!!

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بہت بہترین

Unmarriageable is one of those novels that you can finish in a week-end but with intention I stretched out as long as possible. When I saw that Ms Kamal was not only the author but narrator I knew it would be a lovely read/listen but it was so much more. She captures the intricate modern Pakistani social culture to a T. There are many modern Pride and Prejudice novels out there but Ms Kamal's twist was outstanding. I've purchased two hard-copies, one to keep and one to gift. I am so looking forward to Ms Kamal's next work. Even the epilogue is a must read.

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The Best Jane Austin Interpretation I've Found

Both this novel and reader were very pleasant surprises . I've reread Jane Austen's novels many times. Only Six Novels! Darn! So, every so often I've tried one of the re-interpretations and plot extension novels available on Audible, but they've all seemed pretty boring.

"Unmarriageable" is terrific, engrossing. "Unmarriageable" follows Austen's plot in "Pride and Prejudice", but sets the story in today's Pakistani society. The novel is very clever in its retelling. All the familiar societal types are there, since they (and we) are still trying the same poses upon one another. Alys (Elizabeth} has a modern Pakistani woman's challenges. I was fascinated by the Pakistani middle-class culture portrayal. Food, clothes, entertainments, rituals. Modern life in another part of our world.

I would recommend this book both as a Pride and Prejudice retelling, and also as a stand-alone novel.

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Every culture is a Pakistani one

The book was hilarious, even though it was written based on the Pakistani culture, it represents every culture. We still have this worry in every family even if it’s not that obvious but it’s there. Loved the narration, I felt I was living in a movie.

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A delightful retelling of a classic!

Once I got past the title, I was able to thoroughly enjoy this book for its humor, humanity and perspective of women and the role of marriage. It is relatable to women everywhere from Dilapibad to San Francisco to Tokyo because the theme is so universal. The characters are richly developed with all their quirks and flaws in full view. Once you start, you won't want to put ot down. I look forward to the movie!

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