The Emma Project (The Rajes #4) by Sonali Dev
When I first read Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev and really enjoyed it, but each book since then has gotten worse and worse.
Before I read this book I suspected that I wasn’t going to like this book from the previous one as the person who is supposed to be Knightley is terrible. I mean she is manipulative, takes advantage of Yash, and exhibits truly horrible abusive behavior as she tries to force him to stay with her.
But I tried to keep an open mind, even though those actions are nothing like Mr. Knightley. But I was over this book in the beginning pages.
Picking up were we left off in Incense and Sensibility; we have Knightlina (Naina)/Mr. Knightley and Vansh Raje/Emma are in the balcony after Yash won the governor’s seat in the previous book, and they are joined by Yash (Edward Ferrars) and India (Elinor Dashwood) who have left his party for the balcony to get it on. They are then joined by his sister Nisha and brother-in-law Neel Graff who have also left the party to get it on. They interrupt them and then who should come along but Ashna Raje and Rico Silva who are also getting it on. The only one missing is DJ and Trishna. And lo and behold, they have been there in the pool house the whole time. Really? There is a fine like between cute and saccharine; with this being the latter.
Naina has a foundation she has been working on and was supposed to get an endowment from Jiggy Mehta but after she and Yash are a no go he has instead given it to her and Vansh forcing them to work together. Vansh has been traveling around the globe helping people, but all Dev seems to want to talk about regarding his personality is that “he’s hot”. We don’t really know much else about him. Vansh agrees to take the money and will create an app to solve homelessness. Why has he concentrated on homelessness? Well he found a guy working on Yash’s campaign who is homeless and it opened his eyes to the fact that homelessness can exist in his home town. Even though he’s 24 and from the Bay Area, he’s never seen homelessness before 2022. Wow, homelessness in the Bay Area has existed before I was born. And I’m older than Vansh. I know this is supposed to make me “feel” for Vansh; but instead just makes me think wow this guy is so privileged that he’s been all around the globe and just now realized that gee whiz homelessness exists in America.
Also they don’t even go over this but Yash can’t afford to pay his staff enough to live off the streets. Wow, he sure cares about the average man.
So not to be rude but I feel like this author doesn’t understand what it is like to grow up in California. I really felt that in the previous book a lot, especially as there is an absence of Latino people and no one even mentions the Latino vote which really angers me as a Latina who grew up in California, and has lived in the Bay Area, and knows what governors always talk about when they run. But I digress…
Anyways, Naina and Vansh fight constantly, yep that’s right they are NOT friends, and even though they fight through a majority of the book but for then for some reason end up falling in love and together blah, blah, blah.
And then Esha is suddenly healed when she meets Siddharta Dashwood the brother of India and China. And the two fall in love and are married even though their conversations barely make any sense.
So this book was really boring I was only a few chapters in it and skimmed the rest of the book as it held zero of my attention.
I really did not care for it as Vansh and Naina are nothing like their counterparts. To be honest with you I think Dev wants to write a story about expectations that Indian women face and abuse in Indian households rather than a reimagined Jane Austen novel, but the problem was she had already mentioned in her first book that she had four Jane Austen books planned out and I’m sure she was also contracted with her publisher, so she had to complete it those stories-instead of writing her stories.
And why do I say that? Because the character of Mr. Knightley is a kind and caring friend who loves his family and would do anything for them; along with anything for the one he loves-even if it means giving up his home, status of man of the house, etc. The way he treats Mr. Woodhouse, Emma, his annoying brother John; is very admirable; but instead that is replaced with a woman who has made herself be alone as she’s has been hurt and abused by her father. She not only has no friends but no boyfriends; and is sealed like a tomb. Do you see any similarities?
Then we have Emma, in the novel she is a wealthy woman who grew up with no one really pushing her or making her apply herself; getting bored she sets herself to matchmaking and helping a girl that doesn’t know her background or history. In this Vansh is a man that has gone around the globe in the peace corps but we never hear anything that he does and we don’t know anything about him other than he knows everyone and is “hot”. Like that’s it. His family also hates Naina and all try to dissuade them from being together. He wants to help Hari “sort of” but his main focus from page one is getting Naina in bed.
She also took one of the most comedic books in Austen’s repertoire and made it depressing.
Also have you noticed that since the first book all everyone has terrible parents and are all in awe of the HSH Rajes. Like DJ had a good family- but Ashna’s parents were terrible; Rico had a terrible father and then he has an aunt we know nothing about and one Rico doesn’t even go to see or call when he’s back in the US so I’m guessing he doesn’t like her (I mean family day on the cooking show she wasn’t invited); India and China have a mom who’s not truly terrible but she’s not memorable or “the” family the Rajes are. In this the adoration is extremely thick!
When I first heard that Dav was going to stop her Austen retellings after this book, I was sad. I was interested to see how she would do Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey. But after reading this, I realized I am more than happy for this to be over. I think Dev was done with this series a while ago and that she needs to move on to writing other things, what she really wants to write now.
For more Emma, go to Jane Austen Children’s Stories: Emma
For more Emma adaptions, go to Is You’ve Got Mail Really an Adaption of Pride and Prejudice?
For more on The Rajes, go to Incense and Sensibility
For more Jane Austen adaptions, go to Beside Two Rivers