Austenistan is a collection of short stories that is highly inspired by Jane Austen. Set in contemporary Pakistan, the stories revolve around the present-day scenario of young Pakistanis. Edited by Laaleen Sukhera of the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan, the book consists of multiple stories by Pakistani women writers who often find themselves in Austen’s shoes. The humour, the romance, the drama and the reality of living in a world that still continues to be superficial, arrogant and boisterous and where marriage proposals and wedding receptions are larger than life are fine examples of how the society still functions.
Jane Austen’s works albeit few, still linger and are referred to by many. Her books are immemorial, holding a special place in the literary world. Therefore, reading the stories in an Austen-inspired style was refreshing, and a unique way to keep Austen’s legacy alive.
Every chapter in the story starts with a quote from Austen’s novels which I personally loved. It was like a clue to the story making the reader curious right from the start. The stories have a female protagonist who despite her struggles and shortcomings, eventually takes charge of her life, struggling yet getting back up, and maybe, finding her happily ever after or in this case finding a Mr.Darcy? The writing style of every writer is simple, easy to read and the stories are in no way conventional. The characters mirror the ones in Austen’s novels. From mothers who are worried about getting their daughters married off like Mrs.Benett in Pride and Prejudice to Lady Susan who comes out of her sadness, despair and mourning to once again start her life, Austenistan has effortlessly captured it all.
Although the novel is filled with humour, one can’t ignore the social message being sung in hushed but impactful voices. The heroines in Austenistan surpass social boundaries, break stereo-types and decide the course of their life. They’re not bogged down by societal pressures of marriage, and are not afraid of voicing their opinions. The themes in each story revolve around marital abuse, gay men being married off to straight women, and forced marriages, all of which are harsh realities in today’s society. Pointing out the double standards in a comical manner is one of the many plus points of this novel.
If you’re looking for a refreshing and light read and are an ardent Austen fan, Austenistan is a perfect choice.
Publisher: Bloomsbury India
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.