Recipe for Persuasion

Recipe for Persuasion (The Rajes #2) by Sonali Dev

Last year I reviewed the first in the series, Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors and I really enjoyed that book! I liked the way Dev took Pride and Prejudice and made it her own, I enjoyed the characters and the themes, but most of all I loved the multiracial characters of DJ and Emma. Growing up biracial there was never a lot of material to read or watch that touched on those issues and I am always happy to read one.

So when Dev said that she was planning on writing another book, this one being a retelling of Persuasion, I was jazzed. I could not wait to read it!

Then I finally got my hands on a copy, I read it all in one setting and I didn’t really like it as much as I thought I would. So I decided to let my thoughts steep for a while and think about what it was that made me not love the sequel when I had really loved the first book in the series.

Hmm…

This book is about Trisha’s cousin Ashna Raje. Ashna is an Indian princess; her father (a prince) married a cricket star, but was constantly getting into trouble and causing scandal, so he was sent away from India to to America to be with his older brother (who would hopefully help whip him into shape). There he built a home and a restaurant, cooking Indian and fancy cuisine.

Ashna lived with her father in California, spending most of her time living with her Raje cousins, as her mother was always gone as she traveled around the world trying to better women’s lives. Ashna’s father died when Ashna was graduating high school and after his death she decided to carry on his legacy and traveled to Paris to attend Cordeon Bleu (meeting and befriending DJ, from the previous story). When she returned home eager to put her education to work and carry on her father’s dreams, she discovered that the people she left in charge of the business had embezzled a large portion of the profits and fled, the resturant is dwindling in customers, and that nearly every time she tries to make something new or deviate from the original menu she has panic attacks.

DJ tries to help her revamp the menu, but she struggles trying to do anything. Her customers continue to dwindle and her sous chef leaves her for a better position.

Ashna feels alone and lost when her mother, who left her as a child, calls and makes her feel worse about her life and her choices (as always); along with trying to convince her to sell the resturant and do something else. Ashna becomes angry that her mother is again belittling her life choices and decides to do the one thing she never thought she would ever do, agree to be on her friend, China Dashwood’s, cooking show competition.

China Dashwood is producing a new show, Cooking With the Stars, that pairs a local chef up with a celebrity. Ashna was set against it, but being on the show will be good for business and help stick it to her mom, who Ashna has a lot of unresolved issues with.

Meanwhile, in England, World Cup Winner Rico Silva is trying to decide what to do next with his life. Rico was born in a favela in Brasil, the illegitimate son of a famous fútball star. When his mother passed away, he was sent to America to stay with his Tia. There he started playing soccer; along with meeting and falling in love with Ashna.

But Ashna was always ashamed of him and never wanted him to meet her father or family, always keeping him hidden from them and a secret, just like his dad treated his mom. One day, Rico went to see her father and he said horrible things to him and about his family. Ashna never spoke to Rico after that, completely ignoring all his texts and calls.

Now Rico is a famous fútball player who’s knee injury has forced him to retire. Feeling bad for himself at a friend’s bachelor party, he starts thinking of his string of failed relationships, as he has never been able to move past Ashna. He decides to google her and discovers she is going to be on a cooking show. Not making the most logical decisions, he decides to go on it too, be her partner, and get his revenge? Find closure? Maybe a mix of both?

Ashna is extremely nervous to be on the show, but when she sees that her partner is Rico, the man who broke her heart-she is so surprised she drops her knife, nearly slicing off her toes. Luckily Rico dives and saves her.

Ashna is uncertain how she will make it through this competition while being so close to Rico, this whole situation is so painful and brings back both good and bad memories. Meanwhile, Rico starts regretting being alongside someone who still has so much emotional power over him.

They should not have done this.

But even if both wanted to back out, it is impossible now as they are leading the charts with their chemistry. Ratings are a dream as everyone is tuned in to see what will happen next in the cooking romance. But can the two work as a team? Or is the heat between then too much for this kitchen?

Hmmm…

So the story wasn’t bad but I wasn’t really as invested in these characters as I was with the ones from the previous book. It’s weird as I was really interested to have more Ashna, as I liked her in the previous book, but I felt like something was off in thiI think it is because the circumstances didn’t pull on my heart as much in this book as they did in the original Persuasion and in the previous book. In Persuasion, first we have the fear of loss of security as their family is running out of money and Anne’s father Sir Walter and sister Elizabeth are making no effort to change that. Anne gets a glimpse of her unhappy future as she stays with her horrible sister Mary and brother-in-law. In Recipe for Persuasion, there is the fear of losing her father’s resturant, but I had a harder time finding connecting to that as she still has the property and the house-both of which are prime Bay Area real estate, she could sell them and get millions. And if she did lose her place as she had too much debt that would be paid after the sale, she could always stay at the Raje family compound. Her family is amazing and she used to live with them, so it isn’t as scary an end. I mean it is still sad to have failed and to lose your dream, but she wouldn’t be lost or alone as all would be willing to help her as she regrouped and figured out what was next.

Also in Persuasion, when Wentworth comes back successful and has both the Musgrove sisters fawning over him, he enjoys the attention, especially as it is in front of the woman who rejected him-while Anne definitely feels less then and sad that she let him go. Then when Captain Wentworth realizes he still loves her, he is stuck waiting to see what will happen to Louisa as his attention to her made everyone assume they are to be engaged and he can’t abandon an injured woman. With this there is no block to their happiness, I mean Rico gets over his hurt fairly quickly and is trying to get with Ashna pretty early on in the book. The author does try to mislead us and Ashna with KDrama star Song and Rico growing close, but she isn’t a serious contender. She is never more than just friendly to him.

The other 1/3-1/2 of the book focused on Ashna’s mother’s story, Shobi, who’s storyline is very sad. The first part of Shobi’s story describes how she was in love with another man but her father wouldn’t let her marry a poor Muslim, and instead agreed to a marriage with the prince, Ashna’s father who wanted her. The prince is a horrible abusive man who rapes her on her wedding night. That part I didn’t have an issue with, having been in an abusive relationship I felt they dealt with her story well. What bothered me was the way she justifies leaving her child to help children all over the world and the anger she has at her ex-husband blaming him for her and her daughter’s decaying relationship. Now I will never condemn someone for leaving their abusive partner, but the way she belittles not being there for her daughter because she had a “greater good” to serve really bothered me. Her husband did not paint Shobi in the best light to her daughter, but I felt that she also needs to take responsibility for the choices she made, especially after her husband died. She still hardly spends time with Ashna, doesn’t listen to what she wants, just drops in without warning believing that will fix everything, threatens to sell the store if Ashna doesn’t listen to her, etc. And if she did apologize and recognize her failings to Ashna, instead of telling her again and again these impoverished women are more important than her own daughter, I would have liked her more.

I also didn’t like how easily Ashna and her mother Shobi resolve their issues. Ashna realizes that her being with Rico wasn’t what made her father commit suicide, but that her mother served him with divorce papers. That brought a bunch of memories of how horrible her father treated her mother and she instantly forgives her and is happy to hear her mother is in a happy relationship with another man (who Shobi has been dating for almost all of her married life). I understand what the author is doing and wanting to wrap up that thread, but I used to work with grieving adults and kids and it is never, ever that easy. This exact scenario happened with a preteen I was working with. The mom stayed with her abusive husband because of the kids, but was finally planning on leaving him. He found out and killed himself, the daughter being the one who found the body. The daughter hated her mom as she blamed her for the death, and idolized her father (just like Ashna) and after a lot of therapy and the art class they were in a better place; but she was still very angry with her mom, and it was a continual process. There were also adults who went to the grief class and had a similar scenario happen in their life and had never dealt with those issues. After the art therapy class they were in a better place with their parent-but still had hurt and blame over their mother “causing the death” of their father. I found it extemely unrealistic that Ashna who has never been in any therapy regarding her mother was able to get over the abandonment of her mother; moved past feeling second best to her mother’s charity work, and accepted that this whole time her mother had a secret life/relationship with another man in an instant. What? I would have liked it better if her mother and her started talking and then showing years later they are in a good place instead of it all fixed in one night.

Hmm…

There are also some interesting writing choices in this book as well. We have a chapter where we are in we are in Ashna’s POV and then it suddenly switches to her mom. It was a bit disorientating.

I also had a really hard time with all the Portuguese in this book. Being half Mexican I grew up with Spanish and Portuguese is not Spanish. This is nothing against the author or the language, I just struggled with it and cautioning other Spanish speakers/readers you too might have a bit of a struggle as well.

So that’s all that I did not care for, now what did I like? First of all I loved that again we have an interracial relationship with Ashna (Indian) and Rico (Brazilian). Growing up biracial there wasn’t a lot of media that had interracial or multiracial couples/characters. Anytime there is anything that has even a tiny shard of it, I am excited to see. I loved that scene when they blend Rico’s favorite dish from Brasil with pieces of an Indian recipe that Ashna’s grandma used to make. That scene was just wonderful! It made me think of my own life when blending traditions from both sides of my culture.

Like Pride and Prejudice and Other Flavors, this book was also a love letter to food. I like how it highlights the comfort, love, and traditions of it. I also love how we have the two bond of cooking. Rico, having only been a part to get back at Ashna, actually find himself enjoying creating these different dishes with Ashna. And Ashna finds herself having a renewed interest in it, and finding herself once again being creative and not stuck in the past and past recipes. In a sense, then cooking together really is what begins to help heal what transpired between them. And of course there is the constant Chais that Ashna creates and blends for her cousins. It made me want some, real chai, so bad.

And of course, Rico writes Ashna a letter to convince her that he’s serious in his feelings for her. You know me, I’m a sucker for a character writing a love letter. It gets me every time.

I also liked how the author shared about the struggles women face in other places of the world along with Shobi’s struggle with abuse and marital rape. I think both of these issues are important and I’m glad that Sonali Dev didn’t shy away from it all.

So I didn’t hate it and I don’t think it was a bad story-there was just something missing for me…a missing ingredient that I felt the previous book had and this one lacked.

She just published a third book, Incense and Sensibility, and I have read and will be posting on it soon (I hope).

Because of the content of those book I want to end this post with this: Are you in an abusive relationship? Do you need help or assistance? If you are in need of help please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, the National Domestic Violence Hotline provides essential tools and support to help survivors of domestic violence so they can live their lives free of abuse. You can reach them at 1.800.799.7233

For more Persuasion, go to Jane in Love

For more Persuasion adaptions, go to Holiday Mix Tape

For more on The Rajes, go to Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors

For more Jane Austen adaptions, go to I Watched Northanger Abbey (2007) With My 13 Year Old Niece

Hart of Dixie’s Jane Austen Scene

Have you ever seen Hart of Dixie? I started watching it a few years ago on Netflix after a friend recommended it. It’s funny but ever since I read Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, I can’t get it out of my head that Hart of Dixie has a similar vein of that book in it. In fact it has made me want to rewatch the TV Show, so I did.

In Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors Trisha Raje (Mr. Darcy) is a doctor and has a horrible bedside manner. She cares, but is too clipped in speech and the way she treats people-not good.

She meets D.J. a caterer, and treats him horribly-calls him the help, even when she proposes that they start dating she insults him multiple times.

D.J. (Elizabeth) has had a hard life and is tired of snobs and let’s her have it. But both grow from this and you’ll have to read the book or my review to get the whole scoop!

In Hart of Dixie, Dr. Zoe Hart is a similar character to Trisha. She wants to be a cardiovascular surgeon, but isn’t granted the fellowship she wants because she has a horrible bedside manner. She gets told to take a year off and be a GP and then come back after she’s practiced more than just doctoring. She is lost at what to do, but at her graduation she had been approached by a Harvey Wilkes in Bluebell Alabama to come work in his practice and she decides to take him up on his offer.

When Zoe reaches Alabama she is a regular fish out of water and to add to that it turns out that Harvey is not only dead, but he was not a random doctor-but her father.

Zoe decides to stay in town for the year and falls for engaged lawyer, George Tucker, while country boy Wade Kinsella makes a play for her. The way Zoe treats Wade is a lot like how Trisha treated DJ, but much worse. She sees Wade as lower than her, uneducated, a real country bumpkin as she is from New York City and he’s from a hamlet in the middle of nowhere. (Not completely unlike some of the interactions of the Bingley party from London reacts to being on Hertfordshire.)

The show has a whole range of crazy and kooky characters. All are so adorable and it is a great load of fun. Eventually Zoe learns to care and relax her demeanor (like Mr. Darcy) and Wade grows up and learns better how to relate and discuss how he feels.

How sweet!

So the show isn’t enough similar (like Gossip Girl), so this won’t be a comparison review. Instead I want to talk about the Jane Austen scene in season 4 episode 4 “The Very Good Bagel”.

So as the scene I want to talk about comes in season four, I’ll do a quick recap for any who haven’t watched this. The first season is a lot of will-they, won’t they (Zoe and George & Zoe and Wade)? And then Wade and Zoe do get together in the second season, but unlike Trisha Zoe treats Wade like crap. Re-watching it, she actually is one hundred percent is horrible to him until the last season (and even in there). Wade ends up cheating on her as he gets insecure how the bar-tending child of town drunk Crazy Earl can keep such a prize when everyone in town wants her to get with George Tucker. I’m not excusing cheating-but you can’t help but feel a little for him. After they break up Zoe leaves for New York City, but then returns with a new boyfriend-even though Wade apologized and told her he would wait for her.

They end up breaking up when Joel heads to Hollywood and after all the time Wade spent dating Zoe’s cousin she realizes she has feelings for him. She tries to win him back but he is not ready to get his heartbroken again, so Zoe seduces him and gets pregnant. Fast forward eight weeks and Zoe realizes she is pregnant [the actress was in real life] (not telling Wade) and Wade decides he is happy to risk it all and to show Zoe he is serious he came up with a plan, they would take things slow.

Meanwhile, George Tucker and Mayor Lavon Hayes are both in love with Lemon Breeland. When she returned from her singles’ cruise with a handsome, connected, and perfect doctor-they were crushed and angry. They started researching the guy and discovered he has another girlfriend, them leaking it to the local paper/blog The Blawker, so she would find out and dump him. It turns out Lemon knew about it and the two have been pretending to be together so each could inherit their grandmother’s money. Now Lemon is on the warpath to discover who leaked her secret and the guys will do anything to have her not find out the truth.

Including being in the local bed and bath’s owner Dash DeWitt’s special Pride and Prejudice weekend. Lavon Hayes is Mr. Darcy and George is to be Mr. Bingley, and they are to be the weekend escorts for the tourists, all senior citizens.

The guys are not into it at all, which is weird as I’ve seen them dress up lots of times as pirates, Renaissance Knights, Civil War reenactors, etc.

I mean for real!

I think Lavon can pull of the Mr. Darcy look, he just needs less modern hair.

George doesn’t pull the Regency clothes off as well-but it might be the outfit and his hair as well. Not everyone can look good in Regency clothes.

It is pretty funny how awful they are at this. It appears they know zero about Jane Austen or the Regency Era as they try to make conversation while dancing.

“Jane Austen Enthusiast: And, Mr. Darcy, how do you like Lady Elizabeth’s fine eyes?

Lavon Hayes: [As Mr. Darcy] Oh, uh, they-they are fine. They, uh…they shine like dimes. Or whatever change they have in England.”

“Jane Austen Enthisiast: The country is vast more pleasant than the city, is it not Mr. Bingley?

George Tucker: [As Mr. Bingley] Why, yes, it is lovely here in the…in the country.”

It is a short scene as they guys leave because Lemon is in trouble and they won’t let one go without the other. But if you like Jane Austen-it is cute and a silly scene. I really wish it was longer.

Oh, well.

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Unmarriageable: Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan

For more Jane Austen film adaptions, go to Sense and Sensibility (1995)

I Won the Kumi Crochet and Tea India Giveaway

So a while back Kumi Crochet and Tea India teamed up to do a giveaway-and you know me and free, I just can’t resist.

As I always say:

“Free is always good unless it is diseases.”

Anytime I see a giveaway I have to enter it.

Yes!

The crocheted cup cozy was so adorable, along with the chai coaster. I loved them, but ended up sending them to a friend who was in need of a little cheer through this whole COVID19 thing. She just loved them and they made her feel brighter.

Or disappointed life…

Right now she is on break, but will be taking orders after July 5th. If you are in need of crocheted comfort, you should check her out.

Now let’s move on to the tea. So I love tea:

I love Chai tea and was excited to try it out. I didn’t receive the tea pictured, but instead two boxes of Chai Moments Masala Chai Tea. This Chai Tea was fantastic!

The masala gave it a bit of a kick, but I loved it! It was so easy to make, you can take it on the go, as all it needed is hot water (I like to add a little milk in with mine). I felt so blessed by it, that I gave half a box to a friend who loves Chai Tea, and she thought it was amazing as well.

However, I now wish I hadn’t been so generous. I really LOVED the tea and am down to my last one!

I had so much, where did it all go?

I know I will be buying more of this soon, it is so good.

For more giveaways, go to I Won the Madsen Creations Giveaway

For more tea posts, go to Lavender Earl Grey Tea Shortbread Cookies

For more chai tea, go to I Won the Cederberg Tea Giveaway + Book Club Picks: The Insanity of God

So a few years back I was given a collection of five teas, A World of Teas. As I was about to try them out, I started thinking, which books would best suit the teas? After all nothing goes better together than a good book and a delicious tea. I decided to repeat it with the with other teas I have won, and since it has now become my new thing. After all, books and tea just go so well together.

Chai Moments Masala

So I was drinking this tea trying to think of a book that was comforting (like the tea), had everything you love with a kick of something new, and Indian. I then turned to finish the last chapter of my book, when it hit me-it was perfect!

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors

In this Pride and Prejudice adaption, Trisha Raje is a top surgeon from a rich and powerful family. She has been separated from the family due to a past mistake, trusting someone she shouldn’t have, and is ready to rejoin the fold. In Europe, DJ Caine grew up without much and has worked hard to be a top chef. He moves to America to take care of sister Emma, she has a tumor in her eyes, and starts catering to support them. He and Trisha meet when he is working an event for her brother and it does not go well. Trisha almost ruined his sauce, they argued, she insulted him and he overheard it-thank goodness they don’t have to interact again, right? Wrong! It turns out that not only is Trisha Emma’s doctor, but when Trisha’s sister can’t continue planning the next party for their brother’s campaign-Trisha steps up and has to work alongside DJ. Things get even more troubling when Trisha’s mistake comes back and tries to wreak havoc in everyone’s lives.

This was a great book. The story takes the foundation of Pride and Prejudice but the author makes it her own in this modern adaption. It made me think of the Chai Moments Masala tea as I felt that Tea India does the same. It is a classic Chai Tea, but that masala is not only an added rich flavor, but also gives it a delicious and unique taste from other chais. The flavor of the masala also made me think of DJ and his love of cooking, blending his different cultural heritages in making his food. And the way Trisha eats all his food quickly with none being left, made me think of how I was with this tea. I definitely pulled a Trisha.

This tea also made me think of the book in the way that it comforts. In the book, DJ loves to cook, loves food, and desires to bring comfort to others through his dishes. The Chai was amazing, warming, and cheerful and something I could see the characters from Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors drinking.

It was a fantastic tea and book, and I recommend enjoying them together.

For more Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, go to Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors (The Rajes #1) by Sonali Dev

So I’ve been wanting to read this book for quite some time, I believe the first time I checked it out from the library was on October 11, 2019-but life got in the way and I had to return it, check it out, return, and repeat until finally I had some free time during this COVID19 quarantine.

The story starts off with Trisha Raje, of the impressive Raje family line-in fact they are the descendants of a royal family. Her mother was a former Bollywood star and the family has had everything anyone could want-money, status, education, beauty, etc.

But unlike other books-I really liked that the characters knew they were blessed, that they are many who would give anything to be them, and didn’t go down the route of “all power and money is evil” or “woe is me I have money” or “I’m rich and entitled but l am “really” average“, etc. Instead this family knows what they have and all try to do their best to use it to help others in some way.

One summer, teenage Trisha was touched when she visited children at one of her grandfather’s charities in India. Most of the children were blind and with many nothing could be done, while there was quite a number would have been spared this fate with more interest, money, medical intervention, etc. She was determined to help and from there not only created a charity (with help of her parents) that assisted the afflicted children but dedicated her life to becoming a top surgeon, specializing in developing machines that would help remove tumors, growths, cysts, etc.

She is doing well in her career, but unfortunately is no longer a part of the Raje universe. She has been the black sheep of her family, as years ago she made a mistaken judge of character and that person hurt her brother very badly. Since then she and her father have had a strained relationship and she hasn’t been invited to any of their big events. Her brother just announced his run for governor and Trisha is through with being on the sideline, she’s ready to try and get back in her family again.

In other (good) news, Trisha is super excited to work on a new patient, Emma. She has an inoperable tumor wrapped around her optic nerves, and this new tech will remove it and save her life, although it will cause her to go blind. But living is better than dying, isn’t it?

After staying late at the hospital, she then goes to the family dinner/political event (late as usual) and discovers she missed the dinner.

Trisha is starving and decides to head into the kitchen, plays with something at the stove and almost ruins the chef’s sauce. She doesn’t understand why he is freaking out over it-and insults him, even calling him the hired help to her sister.

Meanwhile, across the pond in England, Darcy James “DJ” Caine grew up with his sister, Emma, having very few advantages in life. His father was Anglo-Indian and infuriated his family when he chose to marry a Rwandan refugee rather than a British girl. When DJ’s father passed away when he was young, his father’s family kicked them out of their house and they became homeless. Through a church program, their mother found a job and a place for them to live. His mother worked hard every day to send them to good schools, and in the afternoons DJ watched the landlord’s epileptic mother in exchange for free rent.

While DJ’s mother had high ambitious for her children to become scientists or engineers, DJ connected with his charge-she becoming a surrogate mother- and the two spent hours cooking. Life was hard, but they made the best of it, however it did start to push on him and as a teenager he did get into some trouble. After that he has been on the straight and narrow and went to Le Cordon Bleu and worked in Paris.

He comes to California to help care for his sick sister and through an old friend from Cordon Bleu, he has managed to land the Rajes as clients. He is working so hard to keep them (and hopefully cater more of their parties and events), losing it when a self-absorbed socialite almost destroys his sauce. To add further insult and injury, he not only had to grab the hot pot to secure it and burned his hands, she’s very rude to him, and he also overhears her calling him the hired help.

That should be the end of it, unless she comes to future events, except for one small thing: Emma, (the patient Trisha wants to operate on but doing so will turn her blind), is DJ’s sister. The two are now both thrown together as they work on convincing Emma to take the surgery, but as she is an artist she is very angry and upset about losing her eyesight.

They are then further brought together when Traisha’s sister Nisha, and her brother Yash’s campaign manager, has to take a step back. Nisha and her husband Neel have one daughter and have been trying for years to have more kids with each attempt ending in miscarriage. She’s pregnant again, and even though her doctor doesn’t say to, she decides to go on bedrest, asking Trisha to keep it a secret. With Nisha self-grounding herself, Trisha has to care of planning the next event-which includes the catering with DJ.

Life gets even more complicated when someone from Trisha’s past reenters the picture, Julia Wickham. Julia almost destroyed the Raje family when she plotted and threatened Trisha’s brother. Trisha is scared that Julia might try and hurt Emma and DJ, but she cannot reveal what Julia did as her brother is running for office and the last thing he needs is for all this to come out.

DJ and Emma meet Julia at the hospital, and she offers them a way to pay their medical bills. Julia’s plan is to create videos with Emma sharing about her story and creating a kickstarter so people can donate to it. As their medical bills are extremely high and DJ can only keep them afloat so long, they decide to trust her and let her into their lives. She further gains DJ’s trust when she shares how the Raje family destroyed her, left her with nothing, and she had to fight and scrape together to be where she is now.

That coupled with Trisha calling him hired help, and a few other misadventures, miscommunications, and mistakes between the two-when Trisha finds herself falling in love with DJ and his food, and decides to tell him-he flat out refuses and rips her a new one.

Can they overcome pride, prejudice, their own hurts, and hangups? Or will these two part ways after the dinner and never see each other again? Can they convince Emma to have the surgery? Or will Trisha and DJ lose her? Will they stop whatever plan Julia has? Or will she completely destroy the Raje family.

So I really enjoyed reading this book. In the forward, Sonali Dev states that this was inspired by Pride and Prejudice, but is her own story, and I thought she did a good job bringing in her own “flavor” (bad pun, I know), while creating a new story. I enjoyed how she adapted the story to a modern times, along with Indian culture. I think Jane Austen’s stories are extremely relatable to other cultures, as the elements in there are still present today. Growing up biracial, I could see how with my Mexican side there is still an emphasis of getting married before you are “an old maid”, the importance of family, having children, etc; while with my father’s side (Danish and Sicilian Italian) it isn’t as important. I wouldn’t see mind seeing more culturally diverse Jane Austen adaptions.

However, what I thought was really interesting was how Dev took elements from Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet and used them in both DJ and Trisha. You see at first I thought that Trisha was Darcy (rich family) and DJ was Elizabeth (as he is from a poorer background), but as I read on they reminded me of both the Austen characters.

Trisha as Darcy

  • Trisha has the money & status
  • Trisha insults DJ and he overhears her
  • Had a Wickham try to ruin her family
  • Feels strong guilt over them buying off Wickham instead of exposing her
  • Giving advice/deeply persuading her best friend (cousin)
  • Awful love confession (proposal)
  • Saves love interest’s sister

Trisha as Elizabeth

  • Trisha comes from a big family
  • Trisha was really close to her father (then something happened)
  • Closeness to an older sister
  • Best friend/sister gives advice on love
  • Makes quite a few conclusions and then realizes she was wrong

DJ as Darcy

  • DJ’s family is him and his sister like Darcy & Georgiana
  • DJ has had to be the father for his sister after their father passed
  • DJ’s relationship with his sister is more Darcy & Georgiana than Elizabeth & Jane
  • DJ’s name is Darcy, Darcy James
  • Broods a lot

DJ as Elizabeth

  • Trisha insults DJ and he overhears her
  • Comes from a poorer family
  • Doesn’t like Trisha because of something she says and when he meets someone who shares an unfavorable view of her, he instantly believes her.
  • His father dying and relatives kicking him out (exactly what Mrs. Bennet feared would happen to them)

You should read the book and tell me what you think. Is DJ Elizabeth or is he Darcy? Is Trisha Darcy or is she Elizabeth?

Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet (1940)

One of the most interesting supporting characters is Trisha’s brother Yash and I hope we have a future book with him (although I’m not sure which Austen character he is the most like? Colonel Brandon is the only one I can think off the top of my head that might work). He is a kind and caring older brother, supportive fiancé, survived the machinations of the evil Wickham, was in a car accident and lost his ability to walk-astounding doctors when he made it out of the wheelchair, encourages DJ to go after his sister, and stopped a terrorist attack on Alcatraz (pg. 17). Please tell me he is coming back.

So this book is more than just a story of Pride and Prejudice, it also is a love letter to food and food creation. Parts of it reminded me of my Mexican grandmother who would make things with no recipe but how she was taught and always had to feed us when she saw us. I loved reading about how DJ loves food, his preparation in making it, his desire to bring comfort to others. One of my favorite parts was when he was having a hard time talking to Emma-his worry, anger, and pain muddling up his words, and he put together the perfect breakfast for her.

How sweet!

So reading this reminded me of the show Hart of Dixie. In the show, Mischa Barton plays Dr. Zoe Hart who has horrid bedside manner and instead of her dream job gets told she needs to spend a year in a general practice. She moves to Bluebell, Alabama and ends up inheriting the practice from her biological father (it’s complicated, it’s a soap opera). She is kind of a know-it-all (treating the people of Bluebell lower than her) and focused solely on herself and her plan to get patients and complete her time-but eventually she gets a change of “heart” and grows to love the people and the town.

Trisha reminded me a lot of Zoe Hart. We hear her backstory and where she is coming from, but the way she relates to people-she is as bad as Zoe. They way Trisha treats DJ as he is just a “cook” is the same way Zoe treats Wade as he is just a “bartender”. Both believe they are better than the “hired help”. When she firsts meets DJ she tells him her surgical hands are more important than the dish he was cooking, she eats all the food at the tasting without him, and when she proposes she says she has never dated someone who hasn’t gone to college (forgetting that DJ went to Cordon Bleu).

But even with those flaws, you still want her to have a happy ending with DJ-mostly because like Darcy and Elizabeth, she realizes her wrongs and apologizes for them along with actually changing her behavior.

Emma’s storyline of being an artist with a tumor who’s choices are either death or blindness is heartbreaking. Every part with her was raw and real as she went through the stages of grief-grieving her loss of what she loves. I can’t imagine life without my eyes, and her storyline was beyond powerful.

Life seems grey..

Throughout the book there is also this theme of secrets causing issues and I thought it was really well done. Secrets can cause miscommunication, for instance Nisha doesn’t want anyone to know she is pregnant until she is out of the troubling stage. She makes Trisha promise not to tell anyone, and instead of including DJ in her confidence, her keeping him out of the loop causes some serious miscommunications. Secrets can also keep you from knowing the truth of a whole story and color your views. For instance, Trisha’s mother has a powerful secret she has kept because she doesn’t want her children to view her differently, but revealing it allows Trisha to better understand both her parents.

Hmmm…

At the end Dev says that she is going to write more books based on Jane Austen using some of the characters and I’m thinking it can’t be Nisha as she is already married. It has to be Asha or Yash and Asha sounds prime for a Persuasion retelling-family used to be rich, trying to pick up the financial pieces, always sad, growing older and is still unmarried…perfect for Persuasion.

And I saved the part I found most meaningful for last:

“You’re Indian?” This time the shock wasn’t a surprise. Both Emma and he favored their Rwandan mother.”

Yes! Finally, a book involving not only a multiracial character but finally a voice to what it feels to grow up multiracial. This is 100% truth for how it feels growing up a mix of different races, but your phenotype favoring one, and the way people treat you different.

I loved that this book had a multiracial character, as growing up there were no books or TV shows, except I Love Lucy that had that. Like I said in my review of The Colonel,  I can not express enough with words how it felt growing up and feeling so different and alone, with no one like you. This feeling of inbetween as you don’t really belong to one or the other.

I only wish it had more on DJ’s feelings of being multiracial. I’m not saying that him sharing how it feels to be dark skinned in America isn’t important, but being multiracial has its own set of issues, feelings, and ways of being treated that I wished she had talked more about. Take my niece for example, people would see her and think she is African-American: but she is Italian, Danish, Mexican, and African-American. Not only does she have to deal with the issues that face African-Americans, but she also has to deal with African-Americans not accepting her because she isn’t “black enough” and Mexicans not accepting her because she “isn’t Mexican”.

Any multiracial person can swap out Latino with their race and this describes what it feels like. Although I wouldn’t have used the word fraud.

I’m not saying what Dev has in there isn’t important, it is, I just wish she had expanded a bit more on DJ’s issues of growing up multicultural more. Did people of Indian descent treat him differently because of his dark skin? How did his Emma navigate this? Did he ever have to prove he was Indian, like I’ve had to prove I’m Mexican? I enjoyed what Dev did, I’m just starved for more as there wasn’t anything like this for me growing up.

Hmmm…

I really enjoyed this story, and I want to thank Dev again for including a multiracial character. I thought it was a great read, and I can’t wait for the next installment ( I looked it up, it IS Persuasion) and hopefully her versions of Northanger Abbey, Emma, Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility.

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Pride & Prejudice: A New Musical

For more on Elizabeth Bennet, go to Elizabeth-Obstinate Headstrong Girl: Part II, Other Eras

For more on Mr. Darcygo to Modesto Jane Con: Defining the Definitive Darcy and Lizzie

For more adaptions of Jane Austen, go to Take a Chance on Me: Austentatious (2015)