15 December 2017

Review #691: Austenistan by Laaleen Sukhera

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.”

----Jane Austen

The Jane Austen Society of Pakistan started by the journalist-cum-author, Laaleen Sukhera payed a homage to our very dear and favorite 18th century author, Jane Austen, by penning some Austen-themed stories about the rich, some feminist and damsel-in-distress type, dramatic, haughty aristocrat Muslim women, who are way past their "marriageable age" of a posh society based in Pakistan, through a book called Austenistan featuring a collection of seven short stories written by the members of the Jane Austen fan club and is edited by Laaleen Sukhera.


Heiress Kamila Mughal is humiliated when her brother's best friend snubs her to marry a social climbing nobody from Islamabad. Roya discovers her fiancé has been cheating on her and ends up on a blind date on her wedding day. Beautiful young widow Begum Saira Qadir has mourned her husband, but is she finally ready to start following her own desires?

Inspired by Jane Austen and set in contemporary Pakistan, Austenistan is a collection of seven stories; romantic, uplifting, witty, and heartbreaking by turn, which pay homage to the queen of romance who lives on among us.

The 18th century author, Jane Austen, whose novels changed the lives of then society in London as well as the lives of everyone one century after another on a global scale. Austen depicted a narrow-minded English society where women from a respectable and aristocratic class can easily enrich themselves with varied opportunities in life, like a classy educational background or equally rich hobbies to allure eligible bachelors when the women have reached their "marriageable age" and for those women belonging from a middle-class background might find it bit difficult to allure men like Mr. Darcy and rather allure someone from lower strata of life. Also women should seek husband before crossing the maximum limit of "marriageable age" because only then she can find herself a handsome and successful bachelor, otherwise, she ill chained to an old, fat, grumpy man for the rest of her life. Austen has captured the then mindset of our society, but little did she knew that, the society that she is talking about is a perpetual one. So even in 21st century, we women find ourselves challenged these mediocrities of our society. And thus Austen is and will forever be alive in our everyday complexities and challenges of life.

And Laaleen and her group of Austen fan club members have payed a tribute to the legendary author, Jane Austen by portraying stories about every day women that we meet while commuting to our work-place or while using the public loo or while waiting in a queue for the trial rooms in any shopping mall or maybe in our neighborhood. The women who are feminist yet love drama and enjoy passion and romance, the women who are independent and want to be successful in their lives and the women who want freedom from everything. But the surprisingly part is that these women might be from your neighborhood, but in the book, the women belong from a very restricted society in Pakistan, where beyond the layers of their hijaab, they love to explore their freedom in the fields of marriage, love, sex and career.

Some are haughty Gucci-Prada-draped mid-aged spinsters, some are curvaceous, young and flirty, some are independent and headstrong and some are fabulous in their own shell, but they all are either crushing on tall, handsome, rich, posh, foreign-returned, successful men (typical Mr. Darcy type) or rebelling against the societal norms followed by high-octane melodrama in their lives.

The writing style is brilliant, vividly penned and laced with light emotions and full of humor that is bound to keep the readers not only glued to the book, but also entertained till the very last page. The challenges of a complex society and a society that is never going to grow up is depicted with full of funny anecdotes all the resonating closely enough with the everyday challenges in the lives of 21st century women. Yes the characters are highly relatable and extremely honest and portray authenticity through their demeanor, well yeah I agree they can be a bit dramatic at times. The narrative is articulate and with a fast pace, this book is a perfect and must read for any and every modern day single, married, widowed, divorced or engaged women. The authors did a brilliant and amazing job in arresting the raw truth about our "so-called progressive" Asian society strikingly.

Verdict: Definitely a must read and a perfect book to cure our gloomy moods.

Courtesy: Thanks to the publishers from Bloomsbury India for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.

Author Info:
Laaleen Sukhera is a British Pakistani writer and media professional and the founder of the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan. She is the Editor and one of seven contributors of Austenistan, an anthology inspired by Jane Austen and set in contemporary Pakistan, published by Bloomsbury India in December 2017 and forthcoming from Bloomsbury UK and Bloomsbury USA in 2018.

Based in Pakistan, Laaleen works as a magazine editor and a communications consultant for international development, heritage, and branding. She was recently profiled in The Times (UK), Vanity Fair Italia, and  1843 magazine, and is currently being interviewed by the British Council, the BBC, and NPR. On the occasion of Ms Austen’s bicentennial death anniversary, Laaleen was quoted in The Atlantic and The Economist as an authority on the subject. She has appeared as a literary panelist and speaker on women’s issues at events in South Asia and the United States. Her upcoming literary appearances for Austenistan include the Fairway Galle Literary Festival 2018 and the Times Lit Fest Bangalore, 2018.
Visit her here

Book Purchase Links:


Post a Comment

Thanks for your feedback!