As a PRIDE AND PREJUDICE fan, I am fated to read almost every PRIDE AND PREJUDICE retelling that I find. I was surprised and thrilled, therefore, to discover that three contemporary retellings of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE came out recently, featuring characters from Pakistan or India. An interesting twist on a classic! I had to put all three books to the test. Which one would be the best? Let’s look at the list of contenders:
A scandal and a vicious rumor has destroyed the Binat fortune, and with it, the five Binat daughters’ hopes of arranging desirable marriages. When the Binat family receives an invitation to the most sought-after wedding of the year, Mrs. Binat sees her chance to launch her girls back into Pakistani society. As the days of the lavish wedding party unfold, Jena Binat catches the eye of the charming Bungles Bingla, and Alys Binat butts heads with Bungles’ friend, Valentine Darsee.
If you’re looking for an almost literal, yet modern-day Pakistani retelling of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, UNMARRIAGEABLE is the book for you. This is the book that has the most obvious scene-to-scene comparisons, and most of the characters have Pakistani versions of the names of the original characters.
Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s most highly acclaimed neurosurgeon. But that’s not enough for the Rajes, who have put most of the family’s efforts into supporting Trisha’s brother’s political aspirations. When she meets chef DJ Caine at a fundraiser, Trisha immediately gets on DJ’s wrong side. It’s bad enough that the two are forced together to plan the next fundraiser. But when DJ finds out that Trisha is the only neurosurgeon with the skills to save his sister’s life, the two must figure out a way to get along.
This version of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE has less to do with the characters’ Indian heritage than it does with the contemporary setting, but the thing I liked best about this was the role reversal. With Trisha basically playing the Mr. Darcy character, the story took some interesting turns that I didn’t see coming.
Ayesha dreams of becoming a poet. But she also feels a debt to her wealthy uncle for sponsoring her family when they moved to Canada from Pakistan. When Ayesha’s uncle asks her to help plan a fundraiser for their local mosque, Ayesha feels she can’t refuse. There Ayesha meets Khalid. Khalid is smart and handsome, but also conservative and judgmental. As Ayesha and Khalid spend more time together, their first opinions of each other give way to something neither of them expected.
Of the three, AYESHA AT LAST was my favorite PRIDE AND PREJUDICE retelling. I appreciated that this book hit the main points of the source material without feeling wedded to it. I got all of the comfort of reading a favorite, while also exploring new themes and learning a little about a culture I’m not very familiar with.
I was saddened to learn that my favorite mystery author of all time died Friday, January 31st at the age of 92. Mary Higgins Clark was a New York Times bestselling author for over 40 years and wrote over 50 books including two children’s books as well as a memoir. Her persistence to become a published author was very inspiring to me and I feel, as many of her readers do, that her books were written just for me. She had a way of writing characters that I could relate to. She always showcased women who were strong and would triumph over any danger that came along, which influenced me greatly.
I realize that not all readers love mysteries as much as I do, but when you find a book genre that you connect with, it becomes the motivation you need to become a lifetime reader. As a child, I loved being read to but I hated reading books on my own. I don’t remember ever finishing a book until I discovered my first mystery novel. The suspense and wonder of what would happen next was the motivation I needed to keep reading until the last page.
If you also enjoy reading a good mystery, pick up one of Mary Higgins Clark’s books and read. You might find yourself reading until 4 in the morning just to find out whodunit! There is a reason Mary Higgins Clark was crowned “The Queen of Suspense” and was one of the world’s most popular writers. She will be missed.
Ronald Thompson is about to be executed for a crime he didn’t commit. The murderer has unfinished business he is trying to complete. While avoiding the police a string of bad luck begins to catch up with the real murderer and the clock is ticking as a journalist tries to uncover the truth.
Menley and her husband decide to rent a house on Cape Cod with an interesting and spooky history. While Adam, her husband and lawyer, works on a high profile murder case Menley decides to do some research for her new book. While she is digging up some history on the house they are staying at, Remember House, she uncovers her own past ghosts and a possible killer who lives down the beach.
Maggie, a fashion photographer, reunites with her stepmother at a family reunion and is invited to spend two weeks with her in Newport, Rhode Island. When she arrives she finds her stepmother murdered. As she begins to look into the strange clues of her stepmother’s death she discovers a pattern. As she begins to uncover a sinister plot she unknowingly leads the killer right to her.
Ellie was seven years old when her older sister was murdered. Years later the man convicted for her murder, is up for parole and Ellie is determined to keep him in prison by proving his guilt. As she starts to do her own investigating she uncovers facts that begin to shed new light on her sister’s murder. As she gets closer to finding out the real killers identity she comes closer to a confrontation with a desperate killer.
Laurie Moran is a television producer for a reality drama called Under Suspicion where they solve cold case crimes. As they take on a new project involving the murder of Susan Dempsey, a beautiful talented college student, whose body was found miles from her parked car, they begin to find justice for the family as they unearth clues leading to her death.
It's time for a little more in-depth discussion of all things Liane Moriarty! Last week I ranked Moriarty novels from the good to the better, and now I'm back for the best of the best.
4. NINE PERFECT STRANGERS
By Liane Moriarty
NINE PERFECT STRANGERS absolutely should not work as a book. Though it’s about nine people at health resort, the book takes the perspective of eleven different characters, and that’s really too many. There is very little in the way of plot; in fact, I’m going to give you the entire plot of the book right here: Nine people go to a health retreat to attempt to detox and fix various problems in their lives. At the end, they go home. There you go! There’s the whole plot!
But, of course, that’s not the whole book. This one’s actually pretty polarizing, because if you love a Moriarty book for the character complexity and backstory, you’ll love this one. If you love her books for the plot and the mysteries, there’s a good chance you’ll hate it. I’m in it for the characters, so I’m all in for this one. The writing is wonderful; the characters are distinct and interesting and I’m here for all of their drama and all of their non-conventional healing.
There's not so much of a driving mystery in this one like you'll find in BIG LITTLE LIES or TRULY MADLY GUILTY, but I finished it in two days and I work full time and have two small children that I still spent time with so I think it's safe to describe it as un-put-down-able (a phrase I’m actually surprised I haven’t used yet in this list, as it fairly well describes all Moriarty’s books for me).
This one is probably Moriarty’s second-best-known book, and it’s great. If you’re interested in her books because you love a good domestic mystery, you’ll like this one.
Celia Fitzpatrick seems to have it all together, but when she finds a letter from her husband to be opened in the event of his death, her life—and the lives of two other women—are inevitably turned upside down, as the letter contains her husband’s deepest, darkest secret, and that secret affects them all in various ways. Celia’s husband—who is still very much alive—begs her not to read the letter, but I’m just going to spoil it for you, she does. And things change.
THE HUSBAND’S SECRET follows three women and their lives, and though one of them feels only tangentially related to the other two, they’re still all interesting stories to explore. I would read a novel about any one of these women, so getting to hear from all three of them is great.
Here are some of the things in store for you if you read this book: a murder investigation gone cold; marital intrigue; inexplicably successful Tupperware parties; snooty private school parents; hot cross buns. And, of course, all the things that a Moriarty fan will love about Moriarty novels: great internal dialogue, witty banter between characters, juicy secrets, and complicated relationships.
For many people, this is the first (and only) book they read by Liana Moriarty, and I can’t say that I can argue with that. This should be the first one you read, even though it’s not my very favorite.
BIG LITTLE LIES has all the things going for it: three intertwined stories of women in differing circumstances; a big driving mystery; unlikely connections between characters; drama, drama, drama. It’s easy to see why this is the one that was picked up to be an HBO miniseries (which I refuse to see because there are a few things in the book that I don’t want to see on a screen, and also because I know of at least one notable change they made in one of the character’s lives and I AM NOT OKAY WITH IT). The writing is Moriarty at her best, and the fact that this is the book she’s known for doesn’t bother me at all.
One of my favorite things about BIG LITTLE LIES is the way that the scale of the drama changes for each character. There’s Madeline, who is dealing with sort of typical family drama: her teenage daughter is starting to prefer spending time with Madeline’s ex-husband and his new Yogini wife, and Madeline is feeling (understandably) betrayed by the situation. There’s beautiful, wealthy Celeste, whose life looks perfect from the outside but inside is filled with domestic abuse. And then there’s Jane, a young single mom harboring secrets she won’t share and connected to these women in ways none of them realize. The drama in the book isn’t always drama with a capital “D”; we have characters upset about abuse, and we have characters upset about teenage angst, and none of it is trivialized.
If you’re going to read one, it should be this one. But I urge you to read at least two, because next on the list we’ve got…
And that leaves me with what has ended up being one of my favorite books ever, because in addition to containing all the things I love about a typical Moriarty novel, this one has a significant amount of substance and the ability to cause you to examine your own life and relationships and think about how you treat those closest to you. It shows us that relationships take work, but that it’s the kind of work that’s most worth doing.
Here’s the premise: When Alice is 39 years old, she falls and hits her head and completely forgets the last 10 years of her life. When she wakes up, she thinks that she is 29, madly in love with her husband, and expecting her first child. To her surprise, she finds herself in a thinner body, in the middle of a messy divorce, and the mother of three children she does not know.
If anyone tells you this isn’t Moriarty’s best book, they are just wrong. Watching Alice come to terms with herself and her life, and trying to uncover how her relationships have or have not changed in the 10 years that she’s forgotten is at times hilarious but mostly just thought-provoking. You find yourself coming back to the same questions she’s asking: “What have I done in the last 10 years? Would 10-years-ago-me even recognize this life I’ve built? Would I be proud? Ashamed? How will the next 10 years change me?”
There is a bit of a mystery in this book, and there is certainly family drama, but it’s really on a smaller scale, and it’s all the more profound for it. The experience ends up transforming Alice’s life for the better, just as I promise reading it will transform yours.
As a teenager, it’s difficult to find fun things to do that also feel like a responsible use of time. Look no further! Your very own Provo Library has a Teen Volunteer Board and we need you!
What are you waiting for? Print out a Teen Volunteer Board application and bring it to the meeting on the first Thursday of the month in our Shaw Programming Room! For more information, call 801-852-6661.