As I have mentioned in a previous post, I love audiobooks. They are so handy to play when driving to work, cleaning, getting ready in the morning, cooking, etc.
And of course when I see a Jane Austen audiobook, I have to give it a listen.
I was scrolling through MeetLibby when I spotted the audiobook Recipe for Persuasion. I reviewed the actual book a while back and had mixed feelings about it as I liked some aspects of the novel, while I felt other parts of the novel were a bit under developed or rushed. It wasn’t a horrible adaption, far from it, but unlike the first book in the series, to me this one felt like something was missing. However, those feelings didn’t deter me from giving this a listen.
With audiobooks, one of the most important things to me is to have is a good narrator. Even if it is a book I love and have read over and over again; the narrator will determine whether I will listen to the full audiobook or if I will stop after a few chapters.
In this Soneela Nankani was a great narrator, as she was very clear and gave distinct voices for all the different characters; an impressive feat as she had many accented characters to voice .
My only real complaint is that to me, Nankani was actually a little too clear as when she is speaking her American accent she hits every syllable of each word. For some it might not bother them, but once I heard it-I couldn’t unhear it and started counting the syllables of each word.
As mentioned before, Nankani chose to do the character’s accents; for instance Ashna and Trisha have an American accent, Shobi an Indian one, DJ British, etc. The one accent I didn’t agree with was Rico’s as she gave him a British accent instead of a Brazilian one. Now I understand that making a Brazilian-British accent (as he is described having in the book) is more difficult than a British accent, so if this was a choice made because it would be easier on the author, I think she should have at least given him a Brazilian accent when he spoke Portuguese. Even if Rico adopted a British accent after living in England, he definitely would have slipped into a sort of Brasileño accent when talking about home or speaking in Portuguese.
Most of the time when listening to an audiobook something new is brought to your attention or hearing the words instead of seeing them causes you to rethink a scene. I didn’t really have anything new come to my attention other than I had forgotten that Rico’s least favorite food is macaroni and cheese. I mean it’s not the strangest choice, there are people who don’t like it; but after listening to the audiobook all I could think was, out of all the food to dislike, it’s going to be noodles with cheese on top? No fideo con queso? Whoops, Rico is Brazilian, I mean macarronada com queijo? The first time I read this part I passed right over it, but this time listening to it-all I could do was think about was how much I wanted homemade Mac and cheese, or sopa de conchas con queso, with very little broth
If you enjoyed the book, and my two points about the accents and syllables aren’t something to really bother you, be sure to check this audiobook out.
So I don’t usually write one of these, but thought why not do a holiday guide this year? A few days ago I posted on Jane Austen products, but I thought I would I also share some books that would make the perfect gift for the holidays.
I do not receive any money from any of these books for promoting them, I am just honestly sharing books I have enjoyed and I think you, or your loved ones will. I have attached links to all the items if any of you are interested in purchasing any of these products. If you do choose to purchase an item from Amazon, by going through these links, I will receive a small percentage through the affiliate program.
So enough business:
It’s time for Christmas!
This list of books are the perfect gift for Janeites in your life OR you could always share this list with your loved one that may be struggling to find you the perfect gift.
The books are all listed in alphabetical order and it was SO HARD to choose just 10 books. I really tried to create a variety of books and genre types in order to ensure I have something for everyone.
Babylit Jane Austen by Jennifer Adams and Allison Oliver
Do you have a little one on your Christmas list? Why not start their love of Jane Austen early with these Babylit board books? Babylit has taken three Jane Austen novels and turned them into board books that cover topics important in children’s development from birth to 5 years old. Each one has lovely illustrations and are the perfect addition to the young child in your life’s bookcase. Sense and Sensibility covers opposites, Pride and Prejudice is on numbers, and Emma is on emotions.
I absolutely LOVE these books and they are always a constant on my gift list. Every time I gain a new niece, cousin, or a friend has a baby, these three becomes a birthday or Christmas gift.
The Quill Ink had published several anthologies on Jane Austen variations: some are set in different time periods, some answer “what if” questions, are told from secondary characters’ points of view, etc. There are so many great stories in these anthologies that I just couldn’t pick one, I had to include them all. If interested in more detailed reviews, just click on the titles.
These books are available in print, as ebooks, and in audiobook format; so however they like to read, there is an option for them! I personally don’t feel like Christmas is coming until I listen to my audiobook of Yuletide (over and over and over again).
Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors (The Rajes #1) by Sonali Dev
Is the person on your shopping list looking for a more contemporary Jane Austen novel? Maybe they would like to see diverse characters? Then Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors is a great choice for them. In this Darcy is Trish Raje, Indian royalty and a doctor; with Elizabeth having become D.J. Caine, multiracial chef (Anglo-Indian and Rwandan). After a series of misunderstanding in their first meeting, Trish and DJ end up being thrown together when Trish has to take over the planning of an event for her sister. There are a series of missteps and mistakes, but in the end romance will always triumph.
As a biracial person I really enjoyed seeing that represented, along with this not only be a story of falling in love, but the love and comfort food and family can bring to us.
Praying With Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen by Rachel Dodge
Do you have a friend that loves Jane Austen and devotionals? Then this is the one that you need to get them. There are 31 chapters to read, for every day of an average month, that take you section by section through Jane Austen’s prayers. This is a great way to refocus your life, learn about Jane Austen, and increase your prayer time.
I really enjoy this devotional and read it at least once a year (typically in the days that lead up to Christmas). Plus Rachel Dodge has great customer service. I ordered autographed bookplates for her books for Christmas last year and they never arrived. I contacted her about it and she sent new ones immediately.
This is an older book, as it was published in 2011, but it is such a wonderful and funny book and perfect for fans of dating shows (and a great way to pass the time while we wait to see if Peacock will really make their Pride and Prejudice/Regency inspired dating show.) in this Chloe Parker is a single mom in need of money to keep her business afloat so she applies to be on a Jane Austen TV show. However, when she gets there she finds out that the network felt they needed a change and now it has become a “The Bachleor-esque”competition. Chloe is convinced to stay and try to win her own “Mr. Darcy”…but what if she doesn’t fall for the “Mr. Darcy” but for another man on the show? Will Chloe get her Jane Austen ending? Or go home with no money and no man?
I LOVE THIS BOOK! This is the sequel to Austenland, although both books are independent stories and do not have to be read in order. This book has romance, mystery, comedy, and more. It’s the perfect book for anyone who loves Agatha Christie and Jane Austen.
After Charlotte’s husband cheats on her, leaves her, and remarries she finds herself at a loss of what to do. She ends up finding a teenage list of things she wanted to do before 30, one of which is to read all the Jane Austen novels. She does and of course becomes a fan, deciding to take a vacation to Austenland in England. While the Regency activities are fun, something mysterious is going on. Will Charlotte be able to figure out this whodunnit, or will she become the next victim?
This is a fantastic book and I strongly recommend it.
Emma: Manga Classics adapted by Stacy King and illustrated by Tse
Do you have a teenager you want to introduce to Jane Austen? Do you know someone who loves Manga and Jane Austen? Then this reimagined classic is perfect for your holiday shopping list! This Emma manga has beautiful illustrations that bring the classic tale to life.
I bought this for my teenage niece, of course had to read it first, and loved it! It is definitely a great addition to a Janeite’s shelf.
Are you looking for a biographical fiction book on Jane Austen for someone on your list? This is a wonderful book and fits that slot! This book is part of a series on famous women, but do not have to be read in order and all the books are independent of each other.
This book is on Jane Austen’s life and was extremely well done. Not only was it a fun story, but brought up little real life anecdotes that I just had to learn more about, and would often fall down a research rabbit hole. As there are parts of Austen’s life that we know little about, the author does take some liberties in telling the story. However, I felt the author tried to tell a story that does its best to represent Jane Austen.
I really enjoyed it and I think that if you have a friend who loves Jane Austen and wants to know more about her, but doesn’t care for typical biographies, this is a great route to take.
Do you know someone who loves Jane Austen but is also into science fiction? Then this is the perfect book as this adaption of Persuasion has a SciFi twist. Set in the not too distant future, the author has welded Austen’s classic take of love lost, love returned, and misunderstandings with cyborg-like accruements. Elliot’s (Anne) old love has returned with a new name and new enhancements. But can the bitterness and hurt be laid to rest, or will this couple face even more odds at romance.
I enjoyed this book a lot and felt that the fusion of genres was extremely well done.
The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries by Emma Thompson
Do you have a friend/family member that loves Jane Austen and their favorite film is Sense and Sensibility (1995)? Then this would be perfect for them. The book has an intro by producer Lindsay Doran, the screenplay to the film, and the notes Emma Thompson made while filming. It is a great behind the scenes look that is perfect for the Janiete on your list.
I personally loved reading about how they had to work together to overcome cultural and at times language barriers-being an American producer, British screenwriter/actress, and a Taiwanese filmmaker.
So of course this is just a small sampling of all the Jane Austen adaptations out there, but I hope that this has helped some of you who might be searching for that perfect Jane Austen gift for your friend or loved one! If none of these strike your fancy, I will post links to my posts that list all the Jane Austen adaptions I have reviewed.
I wish you all a happy holiday and happy holiday shopping!
Incense and Sensibility (The Rajes #3) by Sonali Dev
I thought what better way to commemorate or commiserate (depending on your point of view) the California Governor Recall Election than with a book that is about a California Gubernatorial Election.
Incense and Sensibility is the third book in the Raje series. The first, Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice and I really enjoyed that book. It had biracial characters, it kept to the story while at the same time allowing the author to tell “her” story, and it had wonderful descriptions of food (depicting the tradition, love, and culture weaved into the making of it.
The second book, Recipe for Persuasion, is based on Persuasion. I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the previous one. I liked the diversity of the characters, but I didn’t feel as connected to the people.
I had seen on Instagram that the third was going to be published soon and as soon as it was added to the library I immediately checked it out.
This book is based on Sense and Sensibility, and focuses on Trisha Raje’s brother (mentioned in both previous books) and a new character, India Dashwood. In the previous books we were given some information about Yash; he is the eldest brother of the Raje family and was in a horrible accident that caused him to lose his ability to walk. Originally told that he would spend the rest of his days in a wheelchair, he proved all wrong and was able to walk again.
However, even though this is a miracle he still felt very insecure and has never let anyone look upon his naked body and see his scars. His dream was to always go into politics, but again he faced another hurdle. At the bequest of his sister Trisha, he offered a job to her best friend Julia Wickham. Julia Wickham turned out to be a truly horrible person, (of which there are no words to describe how horrible); who used his generosity to grow close to him, drug him, rape him, and then blackmail him (as she was underage), and the Raje family. Yash never properly dealt with that trauma, but become not only more suspicious and closed off from others, but all thoughts of a relationship with a woman was pretty much gone forever as the experience left him with severe trauma.
At his sister, Nisha’s, wedding he met his cousin’s friend India Dashwood. He and India had a wonderful evening together, Yash allowing a new person into his life, and made plans to get together when he returned from an already scheduled trip. But when he arrived in Singapore for a wedding, he was convinced to pretend to be engaged to his best friend, Naina Knightley. Naina convinced him it would help them both as her parents do not see Indian women as having any other role than married and she will be able to continue her dream of running her own nonprofit. For Yash he can have someone to be by his side for important events and not have to worry about people focusing on his sexuality over his political agenda. (This makes me think of Kevin Kikey, someone running for governor of California who is single. Everyone is trying to figure out if he is gay, asexual, is involved with a married person, or just hasn’t found his dream mate.)
Even though this trade off helped his friend (and him), while Yash was okay with it in the beginning-it has been grating on him. But Yash is a professional and sets all that aside as he prepares for a new speech given at a rally. As he goes on stage to begin his speech, a shot rings out. Yash’s bodyguard Abdul takes the brunt of it and is put in ICU while Yash is grazed and has a concussion.
When he has recuperated enough to be released he find himself, for the first time in a very very long time, at a loss of what to do. He doesn’t feel anything, every time he tries to give a speech he has a panic attack, he is angry and guilty that his bodyguard is lying in a coma, he wants nothing to do with the farce of a fiancée, and he doesn’t even want to be governor. His family is worried about him, and as Ashna has suffered from panic attacks in the past (previous book), she encourages him to see India Dashwood, her friend and yogi-the last woman he ever thought he would see again.
India Dashwood’s family came to America, and the Bay Area, to start a barbershop. India’s great-grandparents hired an Indian immigrant, Ram, to be an assistant who also taught them Yoga. What none planned was for their daughter, India’s grandmother, to fall in love and become pregnant. Ram was fifteen years older and left town due to fear of what would happen to him, and India’s grandmother raised her daughter, Tara, changing their business from barber shop to yoga studio. When Tara was old enough she went abroad to search for her father, but was unable to find him. Instead she returned home with a baby she adopted, continuing that two more times. Her son Siddhartha is from India, her daughter India from Thailand, and her other daughter China from Kenya. All the children had cleft palates, but she didn’t care and adopted them anyway.
Out of the children, only India was the one to carry on the family’s traditions of the Yoga studio as her sister China is a TV producer and their brother a photojournalist. The family is in a bit of a financial strain as India used what money they had saved to do some much needed renovations, and now her mother has grown seriously ill. So when Yash comes back into her life after dropping her all those years ago, she would like to reject him and hurt him (a bit like how he hurt her), but instead agrees to help him, not just for the money, but to help him through his trauma. Will these two find a way to maneuver through the trauma, overcome hurt feelings, get through youthful decisions made for the wrong reasons, stalking paparazzi, and become something more?
Meanwhile, China Dashwood has everything coming up roses. Her cooking show is going great and she is dating KDrama star, Song Ji Woo. True, she doesn’t like having to keep it hidden, but understands that Song can’t reveal her homosexuality as it would end her career. The two spend all their time in hotel rooms, at China’s apartment, or China’s mother’s house. China encounters Yash’s new body guard, former marine Brandy and tbe two do not get off on the right foot when Brandy fails to let China inside the building. The two have a bit of a better relationship after China meets Brandy’s daughter. Brandy and her best friend were heading toward one direction, but her friend ended up marrying an abusive man. When her husband murdered her, Brandy was given legal custody of their daughter and adopted her and raised her as her own. When Song has to return to Korea, China decides to give up her life in America and follow her to Korea. Tara, India, and Brandy try to caution her and convince her to wait and see-but China won’t be dissuaded. Will she get her heart broken ? Or have her happily ever after?
So as always I like to start with what I didn’t like and then move onto what I did like about the book.
First of all I don’t enjoy the political part of this book, as I read to escape. I understand that the author has a particular story she wants to tell and there are opinions she wants to express and share with her readers-I have no issue with it. Just for me, I like to read to escape the world we are in and this book had too much real world for me personally. Especially as I happened to read this book when a real election was going on.
I also find the absence of Latino people from this book to be really odd. Yash started going over with Rico the different political groups on his side and it seems strange to me that Yash discuses the African American vote and working with thE BLM, but there is no mention of a Latino vote, even when they discuss immigration. Not only am I Mexican, but I was born in California, grew up here, lived in the area the books take place and the more and more I think about it, the absence of Latino people in this book is extremely weird. I mean if she decided not to make a Latino a main character, fine it’s your choice and your story, but Yash is running for governor of California and there is no mention at all of the Latino vote or a Hispanic alliance group? It seems strange that both Nisha and Rico who are supposed to be extreme experts have decided to ignore the largest non-white racial demographic in California, especially as his only rival is white and anti-immigration. It seems to me that the smart thing would be to use that to show why the Latinos should vote for Yash.
I also think it is odd that the issue the book and Yash focus on are health care, it is partly what pushes him back into running for governor after his near death experience. I know that is an important issue, but is that the number one Californians are facing? I’m surprised that Yash doesn’t focus on any of the huge CA issues that those running for Governor usually go over (I mean I know because not only have we been going through the recall election but also I remember when governor Newsome was running a few years ago.) One of our biggest issues are water rights and farming rights, something that has carried over every with drought concerns get worse and worse, yet Yash doesn’t even focus on this or talk about it. Nor does he focus on the wildfire crisis even though the deadliest fire was in 2018 in Butte County (Camp Fire) and the biggest CA wildfire was the August fire in 2020. But even if the book was going through revisions there was the Mendencino fire in 2018. And then what about homelessness? We have one of the highest homelessness levels in the nation. I know health care is important, but again it seems strange to me that it was the only issue he seems focused on besides immigration.
I also felt that Song wasn’t really a a very good Willoughby. Willoughby used a woman, got her pregnant, and left her! Then he romanced Marianne only to leave her with no explanation when his aunt threatened to cut off his inheritance, and he decided he needed a woman with money. Song on the other hand is in a harsh reality of the fact that she has no choice in her life. KPop and KDrama stars are owned by their companies and have to be single as their boyfriends and girlfriends are their fans. If they start dating someone they are dropped as the fans don’t want them, and they lose everything. I mean it is CRAZY how obsessive their fans are and how they treat them. If they found out she was in a relationship, her life and career would be over. One woman got married without approval of her agency and she was dropped, blacklisted, and the only way she could make music was her husband had to buy a company. When fans found out that this one KDrama star had a girlfriend and she was pregnant, he was dropped by the fans and his agency. He and his girlfriend got married and I believe it has been five years and he is just barely being allowed to act again. Not to mention that Korea is super conservative and if people found out she was a lesbian that would be even worse for her. So while she doesn’t treat China as nice as she should, Korea is very different from America. And unlike Willoughby, Song is providing for her family. She’s providing money for them and they probably still have debts to the company they belong to that she still needs to pay. Willoughby was a jerk that thought only of himself, while Song is in a completely different situation. For me I would have made Song an American or British actor, or have had her made the crossover into American film and TV (beyond a cooking show), as I feel that the way she treats China and her wanting to keep them hidden would have been more a clue to Song’s behavior rather than her complete lack of control over her relationships.
So what did I like? First of all, I thought the story line and the characters were more engaging than the previous one in the fact that the plot propelled forward and made me want to read more. I also felt that there was conflict and more on the line for every character’s decision.
I like the multicultural/multiethnic families A LOT! As someone growing up biracial, there was hardly anything out there for me, so I love that we have that in here.
I also like that the Marianne character in this isn’t just a flighty, silly, unintelligent girl. So often authors get the spirit of Marianne wrong and make her just all froth and no substance.
I liked that in this China (Marianne) was passionate and gave everything all of her, no holding back, but that she was also intelligent and a hard worker (not a bubble head like they usually write her). I thought that Dev making her a workaholic really did well for the character as I could see someone who is so passionate about their job to be just as passionate in everything else they care for, such as a new relationship. But while I enjoyed those parts of her character I didn’t care for the romance with Brandy. China barely interacts with Brandy, actually spending more time with Brandy’s daughter (who ends up working at the Yoga studio). She is pretty much just rude to Brandy when she is around her, moves to another country to be with Song, it doesn’t work out, she returns home, and then she and Brandy watch a few movies and are now a couple in love? It felt extremely fast as they hardly sharedany scenes or time together in the book. At least in Sense and Sensibility, Marianne and Colonel Brandon spent time together. I think she should have fleshed that out more as the book only takes place in like two months. It really felt like Brandy was just a rebound instead of a “love” as she just returned home like a week ago “being fully committed” to Song and now she’s with someone else?
I also really, really liked how she wrote Yash. The trauma he encountered was horrendous, and the way he closed himself off to people-choosing the easy way out of love and relationships by agreeing to this fake relationship, made perfect sense for his character. I’m not a big fan of Edward Ferrars, but I did enjoy this Yash version of him. Dev dealt with this subject extremely well, although I still think he should have continued his therapeutic help, and it should be with someone he’s not having a relationship with. I understand the security issue of it as they didn’t want the media getting wind but him having India help him fix everything in a couple months and then he ending up with his “therapist”, rubs me wrong. I just think it isn’t a good foundation for a romance, and it feels unethical as well. I also am not a fan of the one night together and then years later, just a couple months and they are “in love”. I prefer my romances to happen over a period time, so that wasn’t for me.
I also enjoyed the character of Tara as I thought she was extremely interesting and I wish we had a little more of her. Growing up biracial, trekking across Asia to find her father, adopting children from across the globe, her strange illness/healing stories, etc. She was the right amount of unusual and relatable. She also was a more active mother than the original Mrs. Dashwood, yet recognized that her children needed to make their own decisions and mistakes.
I enjoyed this book more than the second one, but I still liked the first one best of all.
The one thing that really confused me about this book was that Yash’s fake ex-fiancé is Naina Knightley, so I’m assuming that the book Emma is next on the adaptions schedule, but Naina’s actions don’t seem anything like Mr. Knightley at all. 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. I’m not excited at all for the next one if it features her.
Recipe for Persuasion (The Rajes #2) by Sonali Dev
Last year I reviewed the first in the series, Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavorsand 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.
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.
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?
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 looking forward to having more Ashna, as I liked her in the previous book, but I felt like something was off in this. I think it is because the circumstances didn’t pull on my heart as much in this book as theydid 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 connection to that as she still has the property and the house-(both of which are prime Bay Area real estate), that she could sell. 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 (unlike Anne’s) 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 have lost 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 insecure and sad that she let him go. When Captain Wentworth realizes he still loves her, he is unable to do anything about it as he has found himself chained with all’s expectation that he was going to propose to Louise and the fact that he cannot abandon her in a injured state. He has to wait and see what happens giving him plenty of time to reflect on his actions and choices. an injured woman. In Recipe for Persuasion, there is no similar block to Ashna and Rico’s happiness, in fact 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. The prince, Bram, is a horrible abusive man who rapes her on her wedding night. 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 needed to take responsibility for the choices she made, especially after her husband died. Even without Bram she still hardly spent any time with Ashna, doesn’t listen to what Ashna wants, just drops in without warning Ashna that she is coming (believing that will fix everything), threatens to sell the resturant if Ashna doesn’t listen to her, etc. I think if the author would have included a scene when she acknowledges her failings as a parent to Ashna and how she should have put Ashna first many times in her life (like she could still help other children but remember her daughter’s birthday), instead of telling Ashna again and again these impoverished women are more important than her own daughter, I would have liked Shobi 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 Shobi and is happy to hear her mother is in a happy relationship with another man (who Shobi has been dating for practically all 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 or ”replacing their father” with a new man. 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 the book ended with her mother and her starting to talk and then showing years later they are in a good place instead of it all fixed in one night.
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 as it made me think of my own life of 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 over cooking together. Rico, having only been a part to get back at Ashna, actually finds 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. In a sense, them 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
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.
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.
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.