Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers is something I started a while back for fans of Jane Austen who after reading all her works are looking for something else to read.
There are numerous variations of Jane Austen’s works, but while those adaptations are fun, sometimes you don’t always want to read the same story. Sometimes you want Austen-like works, but not exactly the same as Austen’s works. But what can you read instead?
That’s why I started this series. I will be reviewing books that have components of what we love about the Austen novels, but are not just another retelling, but their own unique story.
A Match Made in Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai
Simran “Simi” Samgha is fifteen years old and comes from a long line of matchmakers. However, she doesn’t want to be a matchmaker, she wants to be an “artist”.
I know, well off “rich” girl going against her family to be an artist; it’s a tired old cliche, but I actually enjoyed this one.
However, after Simi is able to match up her cousin Preet (who the talented matchmakers/family members have failed to do so) with a soon-to-be lawyer Jolly (who both her aunt and mother overlooked as they thought he was a employee instead of the owner’s son); they are convinced that Simi has the “gift”.
Simi’s wants nothing to do with it as she is already preoccupied; she and her friend Noah are determined to do something in order to make more friends and be higher up on the social scale.
Noah asks more about her family’s matchmaking and comes up with the idea to use The Shagun Matchmaking Guide principles and turn it into an app that all the kids at high school can use. Noah and Simi plot out the questions and other parts of the app and then recruit Simi’s brother to actually build Matched!
They do and it is a success, mostly. People get matched up with those they might not have spoken to due to who they normally hang out with. Everything is done by percentages so you know our of all those who are on the app and your sexual preference, the top people you matched up with.
Problems arise when Amanda wants to use the app to get back with her boyfriend Ethan. Ethan and Amanda are both very popular, but while Ethan is incredibly kind and friendly, Amanda is terrible and mean to all. She picks on everybody, but especially Simi; Ethan caught her and that’s what ended their relationship. Instead of Amanda, Ethan gets matched up with new girl, Teá. Simi helps the two meet up for dates, but while they enjoy each other’s company, Ethan is extremely popular and Amanda definitely will not let this go without a fight. It looks like trouble is on the horizon for this couple.
On the Simi and Noah front, Simi gets matched up with her crush and dream guy, Aidan. Aidan is everything she has wanted in a guy, cute, funny, and an artist. The hang out a couple times but he turns out to not be that dreamy of a guy, having her help him make art but then turning it in as all his own project.
Simi starts to develop for new boy and Jolly’s cousin Suraj. However, Suraj matched really high with Simi’s friend Jassi. Will Simi go after the boy she likes? Or like a good matchmaker put her clients ahead of herself?
While Simi and Noah work on helping their Matched! couples, Amanda starts a campaign to try and stop them, harasses Teá and Simi, and even tries to get them suspended.
But everything comes to a head when the ancient The Shagun Matchmaking Guide is stolen from Simi. Now she has to admit everything to her mother and hope that she won’t be too mad when she hears about the app making, the stolen book, and possible suspension.
Of course the most obvious connection of this to Austen’s work is Emma. While Simi is not so extroverted as Emma Woodhouse, being more of an Anne Elliot; quiet, friendly, always lending a hand, and there for everyone; the matchmaking connection definitely has some Emma vibes. However in Matched in Mehendi, Simi is more of a Harriet just going along with her best friend, and Noah is the Emma Woodhouse in this story. He’s the one that pushes the matchmaking and wants to move the two into the spotlight.
However the real Emma connection is Aiden. Aiden is who Simi has built up as her perfect dream guy, he’s everything she wants in a guy and matches what she thinks is the “perfect” artist. This is similar to Emma and Frank as from the letters, what was said about him, and his appearance; Frank matched what she envisioned was perfect, but in reality he had a lot of faults. And the person she never thought about being interested in Mr. Knightley, becomes her dream guy; just like how Simi feels Suraj and her are not right but he turns out to be her dream guy.
I definitely recommend this for romance, Jane Austen, and Emma fans.
For more Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: Castaway in Cornwall
For more marchmaking, go to Jane Austen Children’s Stories: Emma