Author Mahesh Rao's Polite Society is based on Jane Austen's novel Emma and it does manage to catch the essence of it. But you know what else is based on Emma? Aisha. Somehow, I think the movie ruined this book for me. I began the book rather excited and though it did managed to keep me glued through the 300 pages, I couldn’t imagine anyone else except Sonam Kapoor repeating the lines of our lead character, Ania who comes from old money and just assumes it is a part of everyone's world.
The book, much like Aisha, is set in New Delhi’s posh and pompous society. Ania is a matchmaker who first sets her middle-aged aunt up with a retired colonel and then decides to find her 'lonely' friend a suitable match. I loved reading about how fancy these people are and how they love to travel and buy art. It did have a few twists in the middle when her father decided to join a cult, oops, spoiler! I wish the author had ventured deeper into this aspect instead of bringing it in for just a chapter or two.
Aisha, I mean, Ania is an interesting character but it is obvious that she is written by a man. She is rich, spoilt, bratty and thinks she knows what's best for everyone, but in a loveable way. The book has certain Clueless moments too (another movie based on Emma), but overall, the only character I took interest in was Mr Khurana, Ania’s dad. But he fell flat when his love life wasn’t explored and everything was left to the reader’s imagination, not always a smart decision.
There is also Ania’s friend Fahim, an interesting vengeful young man, who judges the lives these people live as much as I did and. But sadly, he marries a firang obsessed with palaces and becomes as miserable as the rest.
The book has a large variety of characters, from the whimsical Dimple to the strong and independent Dev (Ania's love interest). Unfortunately, they’re all cramped in and aren’t given enough breathing space to grow.
Definitely! Just don’t watch Aisha a month before you’re planning to read it or things will get muddled up in your head. I’d recommend this book on a cosy night in with a cup of hot chocolate. A chick-lit of sorts, with some strange cult fantasies, I wasn’t disappointed. The author manages to impress you with the world he spins, with Jane Austen's finesse intact and a touch of Rao's third person narrative that has an air of detachment.
Probably not. The original is way better, and I mean Emma, not Aisha or Clueless. This book is a one-night-stand but I don’t want to get into a relationship with it.
Want more suggestions? Bookmark this list of 100 books you should read.
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