Jersey City Librarian Recommends - Jane Austen Inspired
Hello! My name is Kerry and I live in Jersey City Heights. I am a lifelong book lover and a librarian by profession. I enjoy talking about reading and sharing books and I am excited to share my series Jersey City Librarian Recommends with Growing in Jersey City readers.
When asked about my favorite book, my answer is always Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice was first published in 1815 and I love how the story continues to resonate with readers and creators, still thriving two centuries later.
Even if you haven’t read the book, you likely know the plot: outspoken Lizzie Bennett meets standoffish Mr. Darcy. After overhearing him insult her, Lizzie decides she hates him. But, circumstance and conflict keep bringing Lizzie and Darcy together and they eventually fall in love.
Jane Austen was a brilliant observer of the upper class English society she lived in, which her novels reflect with sharp wit.
The love story driving Pride and Prejudice is timeless, but its setting is not. Thankfully, there are several contemporary adaptations of the book that are set in twenty-first century Pakistan, Toronto, and Brooklyn.
Alys Binat is an English teacher at an all-girls school in a fictional Pakistani town who encourages her students to go to college before marrying, a controversial idea in her conservative community.
The author brings in Alys’s sister Jena who falls in love with Bungles. Societal constraints compel Jena to act reserved around him and unintentionally comes across as uninterested. Jena is frustrated because if she does show interest, she would be shamed for being too forward. This is an example of the unreasonable expectations women face in patriarchal societies.
Note: This book was first published in Canada and will be available in the USA on June 4. I read an advanced reading copy.
Ayesha Shamsi is a teacher who aspires to be a poet. She meets Khalid at an open-mic night and is immediately turned off by his conservative ideas. Ayesha and Khalid are forced to work together to plan a youth conference for their mosque and spend much of their time arguing. Ayesha longs to find a partner, but doesn’t want an arranged marriage and is forced to witness her beautiful cousin Hafsa receive many marriage proposals, including one from Khalid.
Some real life issues discussed in this book include Khalid facing discrimination at work for his religious beliefs, societal norms of marriage and arranged marriage, and a secondary character struggling with alcoholism.
When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street from Zuri Benitez, she immediately dislikes them, especially Darius. Zuri worries about how the Darcys’ arrival will impact her Haitian-Dominican family and their beloved Bushwick neighborhood and if more gentrification can be expected.
Pride is a coming-of-age story, as Zuri is a high school student thinking about college. This novel is geared toward a young adult audience, but don’t let that stop you from reading it.
I enjoyed all these retellings of Pride and Prejudice and will always make time to read new ones. Next on my list Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev. All these books are available at your local libraries and bookstores.
Have you read Pride and Prejudice, or books inspired by it? What is your favorite book? Share in our comment section below.
Kerry Weinstein is a Jersey City-based librarian and book lover. She believes in spreading the word about the positive impact libraries have on their communities. She always has a book with her - either a print book or the Kindle app on her iPhone. She founded and leads the Lady Memoir Book Club, based at Little City Books in Hoboken. You can follow Kerry on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/kerrylweinstein/) where she posts photos of her book reviews written on sticky notes.