Book review: Austenistan by Laaleen Sukhera

Edited by: Laaleen Sukhera

No. of pages: 179

Genre: Anthology, Contemporary Romance, Romance

Published on: 6th December 2017

Published by: Bloomsbury India

Format: Paperback

My rating: ★★★★/5


Blurb (as taken from Amazon.in):

Heiress Kamila Mughal is humiliated when her brother's best friend snubs her to marry a social climbing nobody from Islamabad. Roya discovers her fiancé has been cheating on her and ends up on a blind date on her wedding day. Beautiful young widow Begum Saira Qadir has mourned her husband, but is she finally ready to start following her own desires?


Inspired by Jane Austen and set in contemporary Pakistan, Austenistan is a collection of seven stories; romantic, uplifting, witty, and heartbreaking by turn, which pay homage to the world's favourite author in their own uniquely local way.



About the book:

There are certain books which brings out a hint of a smile on your face. Austenistan is one such book. Austenistan has 7 short stories written by the members of the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan and this anthology is edited by Laaleen Sukhera. These short stories are widely inspired by Jane Austen's works and they bring out the essence of Austen's novels.

Each of the stories are based in Pakistan. So one gets the cultural sense of the country. From extravagant weddings to Bhangras and Ball dances, Austenistan gives you a glimpse of everything. The subtle bits and pieces of Pakistan's sociocultural dogmas that the stories provide through its plots gives the reader a pretty much clear picture of Pakistan. Basically, one travels to Pakistan through this.

Now coming to the characters, I have to say that I loved each one of them. As I said before, the stories are greatly influenced by Jane Austen's novels, and so the male characters are pretty much like those in Austen's books. They are extremely good looking, extremely rich, extremely charismatic and extremely chivalrous. And if you have read Austen's novels you should know that the hero of the stories are the female characters and this is what Austenistan portrays. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters (the females especially). They are as self-righteous as the female characters in Austen's works. They are level headed, and have strong minded and balanced personalities.

As you can guess, the stories are mostly about love (read: modern love). But the stories are very different from each other. While some are about discovering love for the first time, some are about realisations while others are about safekeeping of their loved ones. Reading these short love stories is like a breath of fresh air. I promise you, you won't be disappointed.


Writing style:

As there are 7 authors penning down their stories in this book, the writing styles are different for each story. But each of them are connected by a common thread: Jane Austen. Before anyone thinks that the stories will be very similar to those of Jane Austen's, I should say that only the concept of some of Austen's books like Pride and Prejudice, Emma and Lady Susan are taken. But the plots and the perspectives are original. Also there are modern day elements present which are presented in both grave and comical situations.

One should not just miss this great anthology. Also, if you are a Jane Austen fan, then this book is a must must read.



About the authors:

Austenistan is edited by Laaleen Sukhera, a Lahore-based communications consultant and media professional. She is a Contributing Editor for quarterly magazine Libas and the founder of the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan (JASP). Laaleen is currently working on a novel and a screenplay. This is her first book.


Nida Elley is a college teacher, writing coach, and freelance journalist based in Austin, Texas.


Saniyya Gauhar is a barrister and former editor of Blue Chip magazine. She is currently a freelance journalist based in Islamabad.


Mahlia Lone is the editor of Good Times magazine and based in Lahore.


Mishayl Naek is an economist and freelance journalist based in Karachi. She also runs the Yummy Mummy network which helps provide childcare facilities to Karachi-based mothers.


Sonya Rehman is a Lahore-based freelance journalist whose work has been published in publications including the Huffington Post, Al Jazeera, The Hindu, Rolling Stone and Forbes.


Gayathri Warnasuriya is a scientist and programme manager based in Amman. She holds a PhD from Dundee University in Toxicology and Molecular Biology.



I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange of an honest and unbiased review.

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