Award-winning author Sonali Dev launches a new series about the Rajes, an immigrant Indian family descended from royalty, who have built their lives in San Francisco...
It is a truth universally acknowledged that only in an overachieving Indian American family can a genius daughter be considered a black sheep.
Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s most acclaimed neurosurgeon. But that’s not enough for the Rajes, her influential immigrant family who’s achieved power by making its own non-negotiable rules:
· Never trust an outsider
· Never do anything to jeopardize your brother’s political aspirations
· And never, ever, defy your family
Trisha is guilty of breaking all three rules. But now she has a chance to redeem herself. So long as she doesn’t repeat old mistakes.
Up-and-coming chef DJ Caine has known people like Trisha before, people who judge him by his rough beginnings and place pedigree above character. He needs the lucrative job the Rajes offer, but he values his pride too much to indulge Trisha’s arrogance. And then he discovers that she’s the only surgeon who can save his sister’s life.
As the two clash, their assumptions crumble like the spun sugar on one of DJ’s stunning desserts. But before a future can be savored there’s a past to be reckoned with...
Sonali Dev’s first literary work was a play about mistaken identities performed at her neighborhood Diwali extravaganza in Mumbai. She was eight years old. Despite this early success, Sonali spent the next few decades getting degrees in architecture and written communication, migrating across the globe, and starting a family while writing for magazines and websites. With the advent of her first gray hair her mad love for telling stories returned full force, and she now combines it with her insights into Indian culture to conjure up stories that make a mad tangle with her life as supermom, domestic goddess, and world traveler.
Sonali lives in the Chicago suburbs with her very patient and often amused husband and two teens who demand both patience and humor, and the world’s most perfect dog.
Now this is the kind of retelling that doesn't make me want to pull my hair out! I've read so many variations of P&P and never have I been this satisfied with one. Sonali Dev has successfully delivered an awesome, gender-swapped retelling of everyone's favourite love story, with exotic Indian flavours and beautifully believable characters.
Dr.Trisha Raje, the proud and acclaimed Neurosurgeon, is our female Mr.Darcy, trying to save the world, one brain at a time. Darcy James Caine aka DJ Caine, portrayed as the male Lizzy Bennet, is a hot chef with yummy biceps and yummier desserts, who becomes a victim of his own assumptions when he meets our royal Dr.Raje. Sparks fly, misunderstandings happen, drama ensues, truth prevails, sparks fly harder this time around and ignites a crazy fire and yayyy happy humping ummm ending. That's right. HAPPY ENDING. The one thing I loved the most about this book was, unlike most retellings that rely heavily on Austen's beloved classic, this book manages to retain its uniquity in sub-plots and character developments. Be it the hero's backstory, the marital woes of the heroine's sister, the animal farm analogy for her ambitious family, Wickham's wickedness, cultural background of the protagonists or the way racism and classism are dealt with, the author has managed to cultivate Austen's subtle satire and cleverly ingest her own idiosyncrasies to the mix, while offering a stupendous literary feast. What a lovely blend of fragrant flavours! A must read for P&P fans.
I keep going back and forth on the rating. This might be 2.5 stars or it might be solidly 3. I can't decide.
I’ve enjoyed Sonali Dev’s romance novels so I was curious what I would think of her women’s fiction, particularly one that is Pride And Prejudice-inspired. And I have to say, my feelings are complicated.
As a P&P-inspired gender bent story, it’s inventive and a great update. Julia Wickham’s character in particular was a great/treacherous take. This is not a straight retelling and this frees Dev up to make some interesting choices with the characters.
The food descriptions are one of the best parts of this story. DJ’s passion for his work as a chef was just as fascinating as Trisha’s response to his creations. I also really liked learning about the technology Trisha developed in order to do cutting edge surgeries on tumors. I have no idea if it's based on existing technology but I hope so!
However, the medical plot didn’t work for me and that means a good portion of this book didn’t work, as Trisha is a surgeon and DJ is her patient Emma’s brother. There are major HIPAA violations throughout where Trisha readily discloses Emma’s medical history, options, and prognosis to her family. She even laughs off HIPAA, basically saying her family is exempt, which just no. They’re not. Then there’s the matter of Trisha, a health care provider, dating her patient's brother. Now there is some gray area here as Trisha’s cousin connected DJ to her for the sake of giving Emma more medical options. Technically they first met at Yash’s fundraiser as DJ catered the event. Although Emma was already her patient, DJ was never at the hospital when Trisha did her rounds. So I can see where the lines are blurred but they never address the possible ramifications of how a relationship could impact Emma’s care and I’m still pretty sure it would violate Trisha’s employer’s policies, if not her medical license.
Look. I don’t know how many times I need to say this regarding health care provider-patient/patient family member relationships but they’re wrong. If you are providing direct care to someone, then there’s a good reason to not become romantically or sexually involved with them or their family members. It’s an ethical violation for good reason and it boils down to relationship imbalance. If your health care provider ever tries this with you, please run in the opposite direction because they do not have you or your well-being in mind. I really need authors to stop with this pairing, unless it’s to paint it in a negative light or to show someone grappling with it. I will read those books but I cannot handle romanticizing an ethical violation.
The other thing that super bothered me about the medical plot was the lack of social work involvement. (Of course it did. I used to be a medical social worker.) Emma’s situation is the perfect reason to involve the hospital social worker. I would have been all over helping her process her treatment options and what the loss of her vision would mean for her life and career. This was a gross mishandling of her care and it’s no wonder she didn’t respond well to Trisha or her brother. Additionally, the story was filled with ableism, some of which is countered but most is not. I was irritated Trisha and DJ wouldn’t respect Emma’s wishes to not get the surgery if it meant losing her eyesight—again pointing to why social work involvement would have helped. Patient-centered care is paramount and I didn’t see it here.
The Yash-Julia storyline was quite troubling. Without spoiling why, I’ll say it was a poor understanding of #metoo. And frankly, it didn’t seem like the best way to adapt or update P&P.
Lastly, Trisha’s family was quite toxic. I found myself willing Trisha to confront them or to at least stop avoiding the issue but she never did, which was quite puzzling as she’s very confident and assertive professionally. While we can be different people at work vs. home, the difference was jarring. By the time she did stand up to them, I was rooting for her to just cut them out of her life altogether. I wanted better for her. And along those lines, the antagonism between her and DJ lasted far too long for my comfort and I could not buy a happy ending for them.
Like I said, this book was complicated. I’m still turning over the elements from Pride And Prejudice over in my mind but the rest of it was a struggle.
Disclosure: I received an advanced copy from William Morrow Paperbacks in exchange for an honest review.
I am a sucker for any Pride and Prejudice reimagining and this book did not disappoint. Instead of Elizabeth, we get Dr. Trisha Raje (and in this book, she’s actually the Darcy role) and a chef DJ Kane (whose name means Darcy but he assumes the Bennett role). After a series of unfortunate meetings, DJ Kane has realized he cannot stand the snob Dr. Trisha, but Trisha is the doctor who can save his sisters life.
I thought Austen was blended seamlessly into this family drama. We have a large Indian American family from wealth, trying to establish their legacy in California. And then we have a chef who wishes to be a caterer for the family so he can afford the medical bills for his sister. I thought the tension between the main characters was built really well, and the eventual realization that their first impressions were not an accurate picture of who the other person really was? Very well done. The only thing is this book is almost 500 pages long and I felt the pacing of everything could have been much faster, things didn’t really pick up for me until the second half of the book.
I very much want to binge this entire series, I love how all the Austen novels and characters are going to be blended together into the same family universe.
*Content warnings for like a shit of things that will be somewhat mentioned in my review: difficult pregnancies, spontaneous abortions, rape, death (and death by OR), several diseases, assisted suicide (sort of), etc. I very rarely mention these things. I fully believe it's the author's/publisher's job to forewarn readers about the content of a book, but there was so much here that I couldn't just not do it.
Honestly, these people seem to have *the worst luck* in the universe. This entire book is just too much.
And just, let me throw it out there. I've read books with ridiculous names for characters, but it will be a while until DJ Caine gets topped as the worst. I couldn't take this book seriously when all I could think of every time one of the MCs is mentioned is "DJ KHALED" in drunk-as-fuck-club- voice.
Like I said, nothing that happens to anyone falls within the realm of measured. It is all ride or die. All the time. Nonstop. For everyone, minor or main character.
If there's money trouble, we are talking foreclosures, gripping debt, full businesses lost. If there's illnesses, it's brain tumour causing death or blindness, life threatening seizures, debilitating migraines that force one to confinement for 20+ years. If there's a death, it's a horrifying plane crash where the sole survivor in a mass of 30 people is now a forlorn orphan with visions about death or someone who leaves behind a partner with debilitating dementia. If there's a political opponent, it's not just anyone with differing ideas. It's your very own best friend of a lifetime suddenly betraying you. If there's a family secret, it's not that Tommy broke a lamp at age 5, it's that there's a possible accusation of abuse in the immediate family that's actually a rape that's used as a plot device, or a high-risk pregnancy that's being kept from you partner after being explicitly told they can't go through the process again (I have soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo many things to say on this particular topic that I'm going to stop myself before I turn this into a dissertation).
And the same kind of over the toppest top exaggerations are used for character attributes. They aren't just a doctor. No, fuck no. They are the *only* doctor in the actual world capable of operating a particular tumour. They aren't just a chef. No. No. They are basically the *only* chef capable of proving high class Indian food in the entire continental US of A, just fresh from a Michelin starred Parisian restaurant, because anything less wouldn't befit this book.
I could go on and on and on and on for every single minutiae and every single character of this book. But let's just leave it at Trisha Raje and DJ Caine started in the book as insufferable arrogant assholes- both of them, and that's the way they ended up too. The people in this book are all incapable of holding an honest, adult conversations to save their lives.
I had read books by this author before, but long ago that I don’t remember much about them. However, when I read the synopsis for this one and realized it’s a desi retelling of P&P, I was just so happy. I also loved that this was set in US, because I can relate more to diaspora stories these days than those set completely in India. And this one both impressed and frustrated the hell out of me.
Trisha is an accomplished neurosurgeon who takes immense pride in her job but is quite socially inept. She also immensely loves her family, but has a lot of guilt for something that she did fifteen years ago which affected her brother Yash and soured her relationship with her father. She is compassionate and a problem solver and I loved her relationship with her sister and cousins and her grandmother. However, despite working hard to achieve her goals, she has been born to extreme privilege and it shows. She also frequently puts her foot in her mouth because she isn’t good at talking or expressing her feelings.
DJ is a chef who has left everything he worked for and is almost bankrupt trying to save his sister suffering from a tumor in her brain. He feels almost spiritual about his cooking and takes immense pleasure in seeing people enjoy and appreciate his food. He has also suffered a lot in his life, bullied and tormented and left homeless by his own father’s family, so he feels very hurt when Trisha makes insensitive comments about him and doesn’t see his concerns in tricky situations because of her own privilege. That makes him retaliate with his own harsh words.
Both these characters hurt each other a lot, both knowingly and unknowingly, argue all the time and even though I saw that they were attracted to each other, I didn’t completely feel invested in their relationship. I just wanted them to stop hating each other. Even though they both are good people, I think I wanted to be convinced that they could be great together too, which I didn’t get in the book. Their getting together felt too much like the end of P&P and I don’t think that translates well to a contemporary setting.
The author does a good job bringing the Raje family to life. We get to know their history, how the kids have been brought up, their beliefs and values and I think it was all well done. The family is very close to each other and I think that reflected on the page. The author also shows that despite being good people and working towards the betterment of society, both personally and politically, they all are still creatures of privilege and can be tone deaf and insensitive to other’s issues. For all their talk about family loyalty, they are all very quick to judge Trisha for her choices and make her feel more guilty all the time and I didn’t like it. Trisha is such an accomplished woman in her thirties but cowers in front of her father, and even though we are taught in our Indian culture to be very respectful of parents, I particularly hate when parents take advantage of this and emotionally manipulate their children which is what happens here. Even though everything works out towards the end, I think Trisha should have grown a bit of a backbone and stood up for herself instead of everyone just behaving as if it was all ok now.
This book is only a loose gender bent retelling of Pride and Prejudice which focuses mostly on the character’s pride and prejudices. It is a mostly realistic portrayal of different kinds of families and how class privilege can affect the perceptions of people towards others. Just don’t go into this expecting a lot of romance. It is an interesting read and I didn’t wanna put it down at all, but I also wanted something more from the characters.
It's a very long time since a book has irritated me as much as this one and I probably should have just dropped it very early on and not wasted so much time on it. Blame my foolish 'completer-finisher' tendencies, but reading this was torture.
Firstly the deeply irritating 'homage' to Pride and Prejudice was so clunky and forced that it drove me crazy. Come on now, every book ever churned out in which 'boy meets girl, boy and girl don't like each other, boy and girl eventually change their minds' has shades of P&P and forcing a few names into the plot to hint at Austenian tendencies really isn't enough. If the author loved P&P the way she claims, she wouldn't have subjected us to this.
Secondly, the author seems to be completely confused about what she's trying to write. Is it supposed to be light fluffy chick-lit or so-called 'literary fiction'? It fails at both. It's WAY too wordy for chick-lit and literarily way too clumsy for lit-fic.
Thirdly, the horrendous attempt to shovel 'British' English in all over the place. I'm a Brit - I cringed every time she forced in 'bugger, sodding, arse, wanker, bloody, mate' etc. There's one paragraph that's bloody full of bloody everything. Cringe. Please, make it stop. My eyes are bleeding. It reads as if somebody proofread it for her and said "Hey, Emma and DJ just aren't coming over as British enough. Here are some random words you can shove in to pump it up a bit!" My advice is don't use your friends as your proofreaders - hire professionals. May I also point out that there's nothing amusing about "I beg your pardon". You know what, we Brits are polite. We do actually say that.
Fourthly, the use of 'fecking' and 'frickin'. Let me explain. 'Feck' and 'fecking' are absolutely NOT words used by London Asians. They are IRISH words and when used by anybody not Irish, they are a stupid, contrived pretence conjured up to sound 'edgy' without saying 'fuck' and 'fucking'. Not big. Not clever. And definitely never uttered in Southall. End of. As for Frickin' or Frikin' or however the heck American English likes to spell it, not nice either. There wasn't a single sentence with a frickin', a fecking, or for that matter a bloody that couldn't have been better without them. And let me just say I'm no anti-swearing campaigner - I'm not anti F-words of any description, but I'm anti WRONG swearing and swearing that adds nothing to the story.
(Forgive the outpouring of anguish but there's no way Amazon are going to let me post this so I'm just taking advantage of the openmindedness of Goodreads filters).
Fifth, overall just too much trying too hard to be 'edgy'. Emma didn't need to paint vaginas opening bottle tops.
A few more? Food porn. That overly descriptive food stuff doesn't do it for me one little bit. Slurpy snoggy soft-porn - Chapter 35 (or thereabouts). Please no, just no. Yuck. The whole 'royal family from an Indian palace passing off as white' storyline. Silly.
The frequent tendency to shove lumps of back-story into the plot with the subtlety of a jack-hammer. Somebody's whole family died on a plane crash, hints at past misdemeanours and banishments that aren't mysterious enough to justify the attention. I even got totally confused that Trisha's brother was mentioned as beingin a wheelchair a couple of times and then wasn't. What was going on there? Occasionally a character popped up who'd never been there before and then never came back again (Naomi anybody?)
Luckily for me, I got this on a free e-book loan through my local library. Unluckily, I bought another of her books on kindle for real money before finding this one. I'm really not sure I can face it.
A lot of readers won't care. A lot of readers won't 'get' the language issues that bothered me so much. But for me, this wins my 'most irritating book of 2019 (so far)' award and I thought 'Verity' had that tied up already.
Well, I’m a complete sucker for anything P+P and I was excited to see how a different take played out.
Love love loved Trisha and DJ. She’s smart and maybe a bit awkward. He’s gruff and sort of a marshmallow. Together, she’s the Darcy and he’s the Elizabeth and I was all over their arguing. This entire set of characters is fantastic. I loved her crazy large family and his sister. The loyalty of the family their dynamic was refreshing to read.
Plot wise it was new and comfortable at the same time and the descriptions of the food were mouth watering. Of course the slow burn story telling is so effective in a P+P story like this and the added conflict with Julia was a bonus I wasn’t expecting. I seriously loved every aspect.
Overall, Sonali took a well known story and made it something that is entirely hers. I was captivated from the first page and I would love to read more from this family.
**Huge thanks to William Morrow for providing the arc free of charge**
A gender flipped Pride and Prej retelling with a surgeon Trisha as Mr. Darcy and DJ as Elizabeth Bennett.
What I loved: - drama - jumping balconies, rom-com scenes, flailing in love, girl hates boy trope to fall in love later, rich girl poor boy trope, royal Indian father, ex-Bollywood Indian mother, rich family and parties. -FOOD - Well, what do you expect? Le Cordeon Bleu chef who specializes in French and North Indian fusion - I must say DJ is the total rom com hero and I loved it. Well built, good chef, caring, British accent, sarcasm and humour. He was too perfect and I definitely didn't care. I loved it. - This isn't your usual retelling. So the characters were surprises. For eg there's a Jane and Emma in the novel but maybe you might not be able to guess what they are upto in the novel. Wickham was brilliant too.
What I didn't : -Some names were so confusing. I wish DJ was not named 'Darcy' and also cast as a retold version of Elizabeth. While this does not make it confusing, I felt it could've been omitted for further clarity -The first chapter was pretty boring. I considered leaving it unfinished. Until the tempo picks up, which is when DJ and Trisha meet, it was dull and definitely not captivating.
I received a copy from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for a honest review.
BUT GUYS this might be my favourite read of 2019 so far. Okay, not my most favourite book of 2019 but Top 10 and it's pretty high up on the list. If you're a fan of retellings, then you need to read this one because instead of it being completely by the book, this is a fresh twist on Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I'm not educated enough to tell you point by point differences but Sonali Dev played around with the characters from both the Bennet and Darcy family.
I don't know how to go into this book without gushing over everything but you're going to hate Trisha or at least think something is wrong with her because she's emotionally unavailable and socially awkward. YESSSSSS. She is Darcy and she has good intentions for everything (a saint, really) but she's so freaking awkward, people think she's a jerk. When she's not. And then she doesn't understand what is going on to the point that there's a bunch of misunderstandings and she becomes the jerk people paint her to be. I'm not saying Trisha is perfect. She's not. She says some stuff that are unwarranted but I loved her a lot by the end of the book just like how readers love Darcy so hush. Don't hurt my baby.
Anyways, Trisha is great because she strives to win the heart's of her family members after The Incident. The Incident has caused major grief and complications in her family as they dealt with a psycho stalker and her father basically hating Trisha for basically, allowing it to happen to her own brother. It was terribly angsty when the issue was resolved between Trisha and her father. It hit me in the fact when everyone's true emotions were revealed and I may had shed a few heart-warming tears. I just...cannot. Trisha, baby, you're doing great.
Meanwhile, the cook, also known as Dj, cannot stand to lose his sister to brain cancer. Trisha knows a brilliant way to save his sister but shockingly to both of them, his sister doesn't want to do it because she'll lose her vision and what's the point of life as an artist if you can't see what you're doing? DJ has his own prejudice against Trisha. He sees her a rich brat who got everything handed to her. After all, her wealthy upbringing allowed to get the best of studies and also, the best connections for the best jobs. He also doesn't like her that much because well, Trisha called him the Help and usually when that happens, nobody likes you.
Anyways, the psychopath comes back throughout the whole story and you're just waiting for her to get her punishment. When that moment comes, i'm kind of let down? In a way? Like it was like oh snap! Trisha really did that and defeated the beast but I wanted a legal battle. I wanted psychopath person to be in jail. To be removed from the country. Because I CANNOT STAND HER. I REALLY CANNOT. Sonali did a great job at writing a Wickham that made readers want to rip the pages out and eat them because you cannot possibly handle this character.
MY RECOMMENDATION In conclusion, this book made me feel a lot of emotions. Good emotions. I teared up and cried a lot so yeah. Pick this bad boy up and dig into 400 plus pages of delicious writing.
I just could not warm to this one at all... put it down for a while and went back to it again. I did finish it but, honestly, I found it a bit preachy and OTT. Plus the British lingo was a bit off ... "Feck" is Irish. I doubt many non-Irish use the expression too often. "innit"!!! God, I hated the use of that word in the book... OK, DJ and Emma are from London but the over-use of it was way too much.
I love Pride and Prejudice and don't often read "spin-offs" or "plays" on the story but this did not reel me in at all. Her father annoyed the fuck out of me. Actually, most of the characters annoyed me. This was recommended by a favourite author on her FB page but we obviously don't have the same taste in all books we read. Doubt I will be checking out this author again ...
My advice - read Pride and Prejudice and if you are going to watch a TV/film version, stick to the 1995 BBC version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle ... It is a truth, universally acknowledged that the more recent version (Knightley and Macfadyen) is not as good (in my humble opinion (although Keira was OK but Matthew was a "bloody arse" of a disaster))!
A modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice (obviously), set in the Bay Area and featuring the unlikely pairing of world-class neurosurgeon Trisha Raje and up-and-coming master chef DJ Caine, whose initial meeting is fraught with haughtiness and false impressions. As it turns out, Trisha is the only doctor offering a cure for DJ's beloved sister's brain tumor, so despite their mutual dislike, the two are forced together again and again. I liked that the author didn't follow the P&P plotline 100% -- there are plenty of familiar beats, but the story here stands on its own and isn't shoehorned into unnatural shapes just to make it fit the pattern. I also like that it's Trisha who's in the Darcy role here, hiding behind her snobbiness and self-image and repelling the very person she finally realizes she wants to attract. The story moves quickly, has some key emotional moments, LOTS of mouth-watering descriptions of DJ's culinary creations, and definitely succeeds as a love story with plenty of modern twists. Quite fun -- I'm hoping Sonali Dev writes more in this world!
My craving for a light, diverting read was satisfied by this Pride and Prejudice inspired novel. I loved the way Dev played with the roles and made the story her own. The food descriptions were amazing - how perfect to cast Darcy as a chef! A delicious romp.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The truth was, he was right about many things—things she could change, like how she treated people. He was also wrong about a few—things she could not change, like who she was.
In this start to the Rajes series, Sonali Dev gives us an emotional look into a royal Indian family that migrated to America. The title gives a clue that Ms. Dev took inspiration from Jane Austen, Trisha is our arrogant still waters run deep Mr. Darcy while DJ is our making some snap judgments Elizabeth. There is also a villainous Wickham character, older sister (already married) worried about her beau wanting someone else, sick younger sister, mother pressuring children to get married, and other little takings that Pride and Prejudice readers will recognize. It's all inspired by and not based on and I loved how Dev put her spin on the tale.
It had been fifteen years. Fifteen years since Trisha had been shut out of her brother’s political career, the family’s most precious dream.
The beginning focuses on Trisha, a young brilliant brain surgeon, and the dynamics she has with her family. Her family is rather large but I never felt overwhelmed with characters, Dev is amazing at weaving sibling, parent, cousin, and grandparent relationships into the fabric of the story. We learn how Trisha feels like an outcast in her family because of how a friendship (Julia Wickham) ended up hurting her brother Yash, a US District Attorney gearing up to make a run at California Governor. I can't even put into words how Dev expertly touches on and relays all those complicated family feelings; you'll get sucked in believing the Rajes are a real family and probably personally connect with some of their issues.
“Looks like we’re stuck together for the sake of our sisters.” He pulled the door shut, put the car in gear, and shot off around the looping driveway, watching her disappear in his rearview mirror. She didn’t look any happier at the prospect than he was.
DJ comes into the story with the opposite of a meet-cute with Trisha, leaving him to believe she's an arrogant snob. He also turns out to be the older brother of Emma, a patient of Trisha's. Emma has a brain tumor that other doctors have said is inoperable, but Trisha has developed a way to remove it, however, it would leave Emma, an artist, blind. Emma wants to refuse the surgery and DJ is mad that Trisha won't heavily push her. They are forced to spend more time together when, because of his friendship with one of Trisha's cousins, leads to him catering for her brother Yash's campaign fundraiser. Further complicating matters is Trisha's past enemy, Julia, snaking around DJ and Emma.
My sister is not live tissue. But DJ Caine was wrong. That’s precisely what Emma had to be to her, because Trisha knew exactly what to do with misbehaving live tissue.
Trisha is harder to warm up to right away, she is a bit arrogant but Dev deftly draws out her character through showing how she grew up, the dynamics, her guilt, her love for her family, and the very essence of what makes Trisha such a brilliant surgeon. Her character is a master class in giving what people need from you while still staying true to your core and finding someone who understands and loves you because and despite it all. It takes a little longer to get to DJ but Dev gives him as much depth and breadth to his character as Trisha. His background, parent's situation, racial and class divisions, relationship with surrogate mother, and being responsible for Emma at a young age, breath life into his thoughts, feelings, actions, and motivations.
The romance is all at once the background and motivation for the story, family dynamics steal the show often enough but without those dynamics driving the story, the romance would not flourish and feel as complete the way it does. Their relationship is very biting at first but as Dev peels back the layers on Trisha and Dev, it becomes clear how they are talking at cross purposes to each other and you begin to root for these two to clear up misunderstandings and give into what their hearts are trying to tell them.
As I said earlier, there is no way to touch on all the characters and threads that make this such an enriching full story. I don't know if it is a term but this read like literary romance, Dev beautifully began a woven tapestry of the Raje family. I've called Dev a “lip quivering” author and while the emotions can be quite raw at times, there is always an underlining hopefulness to her writing that makes me believe that love will win in the end. I'm utterly invested in the Raje family and can't wait for the next in the series.
Pride and Prejudice and Other Flavors is a modern retelling of the timeless classic. This version has a unique element. The woman, Trisha, is proud, and the man, DJ, is prejudice. I liked Trisha. She is proud because she's a surgeon, and that's a justifiable reason. She is an intelligent, strong and likeable character. DJ, on the other hand, I despised. At some point, I should have come to like him, like in the original, but that didn't happen. He's just unlikable and garners no sympathy. I understand that the differences between social classes is supposed to be sharply rendered, but prejudice is present in every class and every race. Much of it is due to extreme ignorance, lack of education and an unwillingness to admit or acknowledge that these attributes are present. I see all of this in DJ. His character soured what was otherwise an engaging story. Everything else is quirky and charming and it flows well. The culture is beautiful described, well written and immersive. The place and time have a true feeling of life about them. Overall, I'm just ignoring DJ because he's a drag who brings the review down to a two star,and I think it's better than that. Instead, I'm focusing on the merits of the story. It's a delightful and culturally rich retelling. For the positive attributes, the story is more of a four star. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
The genres of popular fiction each have their own modes of description, a palette of language that feels comfy and recognizable to the reader. For romantic fiction, there is a limited common vocabulary of attraction; fair enough, I would have said, because there are only so many ways to describe it, right?
Sonali Dev has come up with a way of evoking attraction and the negotiations of relationships that is so original it left me gasping with delight. Her characters are unique not just in the details of their lives but also in their ideas and thought patterns, and she draws in all the senses at once to bring those descriptions to life. Dev has exploded the envelope of what's possible in the genre. Physical attraction is all tied up in the characters' experiences of the past and hopes for the future, their world views and values, in what they like and what they do and who they are; the result is a remarkably deep dive into another person's psyche.
As you may imagine from the book's title, the story is grounded in Jane Austen's classic, but there is nothing derivative in this book. First of all, Dev messes with the genders in ways that lead to surprising twists and reimaginings. The Elizabeth character, Trisha Raje, is a neurosurgeon from a demanding, ambitious, and highly privileged East Asian American family, with all the under-examined privilege and unconscious arrogance that implies. The Darcy character, meanwhile, has an equally strong sense of family but a hardscrabble upbringing full of loss and experiences of prejudice that have left him still externally calm but seething with resentment underneath. He pours all his love and passion into cooking. Although the external circumstances are wildly divergent from the original, though, Dev does what so few Austenesque novels bother to do--she remains true to the themes of the original. The changes bring inventiveness and surprise, but the strong themes of family loyalty and the ways it is tested; judgment and understanding; and what we owe to society add richness and depth.
For those who are concerned with such matters, there are no explicit descriptions of sex acts in the book. Toward the end a couple gets perilously close but heads for another room before getting down to brass tacks. For those who enjoy sex in their fiction, I don't think you'll miss it because of the rampant celebration of other forms of sensuality throughout. For those like me who are squeamish about sex in prose, I thought the author got the balance just right: the desire is so well contextualized that it felt natural, not jacked into the text to titillate. I am more titillated by thoughts and emotions anyway, and felt well taken care of here. That said, the descriptions of food should come with a warning label: they will leave you weak-kneed and craving the real thing.
If I had any quibble, it would be how long the author teases the reader with hints of past events that cast a long shadow over the present. But I was having so much fun that I was tolerant of the author's making game of me. The book feels so organically complete that I was surprised to learn, after the fact, that Dev is planning a series of Austen-based novels centering on the Raje family. But I can't wait for more!
I wrote a much more articulate review that Goodreads inexplicably dumped, but I loved this book so much I stayed up an extra hour to write it again.
16 July 2020: Just finished rereading in preparation for reading the second book in the series. Was I less thrilled? Not at all. This time I was reading a hard copy so I got to underline and dog-ear favorite bits. Additional things I noticed this time around was how thoroughly Dev has absorbed Austen's subtlety of social observation, how much of a character she can reveal through small adjustments of body language. Loving, loving, loving it.
DNFed at ~60%. Unfortunately this book missed so many marks for me. The love interest had nearly no redeeming qualities and even this far into the book I still couldn’t imagine liking him in the slightest. There were a lot of “woke” moments that weren’t explored and just seemed to be thrown in to seem...”woke”. There was also way. Too. Many. Storylines. I somehow managed to keep up with them all but I can’t imagine all of them are wrapped up by the end without it being a big mess. There was also two whole chapters of infodumping backstory, which was an experience and not a great one. Overall, I had high expectations for this book but it seemed to fall flat in every way.
Edit: after reading other reviews and finding out the “big scandal” I’m very glad I put this down.
I must qualify this review by stating upfront that I am one of the only women in the world who really did not like Pride and Prejudice. I was tasked with reading a "retelling" for a challenge, and this book just came out and seemed like it might be perfect. Especially since I have loved many books about Indian culture.
Dev does cleverly reverse gender roles here (i.e. Wickham is a woman, the Darcy equivalent character is also a woman). But that didn't really make it better for me.
It just seems like a rom-com movie script put down on paper. I didn't really feel the burgeoning love relationship between a surgeon (Trisha) and a chef (D.J.) at all. Some of the rationales for people's behavior in the book seemed so convoluted and basically a bit preposterous to me. There were quite a few tangential storylines/subplots/backstories that were uninteresting.
There is some attempts at wit, and some were successful . . .but I guess I expected a book that is a retelling of one of the literary masterpieces, to be, well, literary. It's not.
To be more fair, I think if people are looking for an easy beach type romantic comedy read, they might really enjoy this book. As someone who never reads romance, I mostly feel I was the wrong reader for this story . . .so read other people's reviews before dismissing!
A romance in the end but it takes a while to get there. It's a very loose take off from the Austin novel set in today's world where privilege and pride need to be broken down as barriers for the couple really get to know one another. I was happy with the ending. Getting to the ending was a bit difficult in the long narrative background information. Pages and pages. It was mostly interesting with deep family history, culture descriptions, events and so forth, but I found myself wanting to move the story along faster.
I ending up loving the characters, especially Emma and how Trisha, as her doctor, works tirelessly to help Emma cope. Trisha's extended family were plentiful and every one had the letters A, S and H in their names.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher at a conference. I have purchased other books by this author but haven't read them yet.
A gender-swapped version of Pride and Prejudice that centers on the Rajes family, Indian immigrants that live in the Bay area. Dr. Trisha Rajes is a brilliant neurosurgeon who has a large and close-knit family, but events around an acquaintance of Trisha from years ago has created a rift between Trisha and her elder brother whose political career was harmed. DJ Caine is a brilliant chef who has quit his dream job in Paris to return to the US to look after his sister Emma, an artist with a brain tumour that appears inoperable until Trisha gets involved. Trisha and DJ make a horrible first impression, with all the rushed judgements and class issues that are familiar from the original story.
This is filled with drama, with the whole Rajes family getting their own back-stories here, including each of the Rajes siblings. The obligations around a family like this are both stifling and supportive and make for interesting-enough action. Which is all good, because the romance is very light on. The banter between DJ and Trisha is actually more venom-filled than I'm used to in this sort of story, but it eventually does improve.
This is also not a good book to read if you're hungry. The print edition even has a recipe at the end that sounds great.
Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.
Wow. What a wonderful retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Only the Mr. Darcy character is gender swapped and instead of being an upperclass nobleman, we have a young surgeon whose family is descended from Indian royalty (Trisha Raje) I initially didn't like that Dev had focused on the Mark Darcy character first, but I get why she did it. Eventually we get our Elizabeth Bennett (DJ Caine) and he was fantastic. Dev follows the same plot though modernizes it for readers. And she even takes a look at black live matters, feminism and rape culture that I was not expecting in this one. I maybe choked up a bit a few times. No spoilers, but I can say that I am excited to see if Dev follows Trisha's brother (Yash) in the next one. I really really want it. Cause, I am all about revenge, I wanted to knock the block off the Wickman character we get in this one. I was pretty much dream casting this book from beginning to end.
"Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors" follows 30 something year old neurosurgeon, Trisha Raje. Though Trisha's family is pretty freaking spectacular, her mother is an ex-Bollywood performer, her father is descended from Indian royalty and is a doctor. Her older brother was Attorney General in California and is now running for governor. However, Trisha feels pushed out of her family. An incident occurred when she was 17 that affected her brother and caused a scandal that was hushed up. Trisha though finally decides she's tired of being on the outside of her family and wants to help her brother get elected. However, an old enemy rears her head again and Trisha deals with that, a secret her sister wants her to keep from everyone, and her growing feelings for chef DJ Caine.
Trisha is a snob. Sorry, she is. I actually didn't like her at first. But heck, I wasn't a huge fan of Mark Darcy either until later in Pride and Prejudice. Trisha without realizing it talks down to people and has a way of being rude to DJ and acting as if cooking isn't a real job and that it makes him lower class. These two end up having a terrible foot in the mouth meet cute, and then again when DJ has a special reason to keep interacting with Trisha. Trisha though has a lot of heart. She's just afraid to show it. When we hear about the incident that occurred that caused Trisha to be labeled the "black sheep" I felt sorry for everyone involved. And when she has a heart to heart with her mother, I maybe teared up a bit. This was a strong story-line I wasn't expecting and Dev did an excellent job with it. We also of course get the Mark Darcy I am attracted to you scene in this one and it goes just as poorly in this book as it did in P&P. It doesn't help that this is after Trisha almost gets DJ shot by a cop (it's a long story) and I loved that DJ had to slap her down about her privilege of being a rich woman whose family is known and he is seen as nothing but a black man when law enforcement is around.
DJ Caine is an up and coming chef. He left England after he realized that his younger sister needed his help. Now he's catering and hoping for a big break. His sister is all he has and DJ is worried that he won't be able to do what is needed for her. We do get a Wickman in this one, but won't get into that too much. It was a surprise and I liked how DJ interacted with Wickman and Trisha. Dev did a good job with DJ's backstory (actually English, though his father side is descended from Indian's too and his mother was a Rwandan refugee). I loved how DJ learned how to cook Indian food and how he modernized it up a bit too.
The other characters are very developed in this one too. Loved Trisha's sister Nisha and her brother Yash. And wow, Yash's story-line. Once again, I hope the next book in this series follows him. I have some questions.
Dev takes a very good look at the Desi culture in the United States and how Trisha's family remade itself. And I think it was great that she included in DJ's background and what he went through becoming a chef and how he still has to carry himself a certain way due to the fact that yes, he’s seen as a black man who can be killed if he breathes hard a certain way.
I do wish that Dev had included the recipes of the food that DJ was cooking though. Seriously everything sounded delicious and I love Indian food. Don't read this book while hungry. Have a snack nearby.
The flow was a bit uneven at first, but stick with it. I promise it gets better.
Review is now live on A Take from Two Cities blog here.
This read was the most unusual Pride & Prejudice retelling I have encountered and where it shone was in the complexity of the plot and characters of the family, so true to the original. However, this is a authentic piece of fiction in it's own right, you recognise the foundation of Pride and Prejudice but the Rajes family are new and fresh for your perusal.
Trisha Rajes was a savant-type neurosurgeon but she was also everything socially awkward, quirky and sensitive in her non-professional life. I lost count of the times her dialogue and inner monologue made me laugh out loud. Believe it or not, although talented, Trisha was pretty insignificant in her family and she longed for closer ties with them.
"Because it was a fact universally acknowledged that she was an approval slut when it came to her family."
When Trisha met DJ (Darcy James), also known as 'Bicep-Chef' she was all clumsy tongue, arrogance, superiority and foot in mouth. This situation continued whenever they met and that was often. Trisha's connection to DJ was complex and emotive, there was a story with such heart in the background to this retelling. DJ was definitely the one with the quick quips and speedy rebuttals but really he was no better behaved than Trisha.
"What was it about this woman that made him want to be a prick? Oh yeah, it was the fact that she was a callous snob and she made him feel like - what was the phrase? -ah, the hired help."
The family element in this story is strong with lots of dysfunctional connections but bonds that desired more. Nisha and Yash were my favourites, with HRH my least favourite. There were short periods of description and back story that sometimes felt like I was pushing through but this story was so worth it.
If you fancy a classic retelling that is out of the ordinary, then Sonali Dev will inspire you, make you laugh and generally entertain the heck out of you.
I voluntarily read an early copy of this book, thank you Edelweiss and Harper Collins.
This book bewitched me, body and soul. I'm biased as an Austen enthusiast but Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors gave me just what I wanted: the acidy burble in my stomach that comes from vicariously living through a glorious misunderstanding between could-be lovers.
The Essence of Jane Austen Infused With Bold Indian-American Zest
TYPE OF NOVEL: Pride and Prejudice Modern Adaptation
SETTING: San Fransisco, Present Day
Dr. Trisha Raje: A brilliant neurosurgeon who developed life-saving technology to help operate on brain tumors comes from a titled Indian family living in California. She is horrible at relationships, feels banned from her family, and has a strong mistrust of others due to appalling events that happened a few years back.
DJ Caine: A talented chef who abandoned his life and career in Paris to take care of his sister who has a brain tumor. He is trying to stay above the expensive doctor bills by catering fancy events for the elite such as Trisha’s family.
Due to their professions Trisha and DJ are constantly being thrown together. And after a few contentious encounters and misguided prejudgments, their opinions of each other could not be lower. With such critical outcomes at stake, how will Trisha’s and DJ’s animosity effect the delicate and important work they are involved in? Can these two ever learn to understand each other, or has their unpleasant encounters together “built so immovable a dislike?”
WHAT I LOVED:
- Inspired by Pride and Prejudice: I love that this story only utilized a set of specific parallels to Jane Austen’s original tale. DJ isn’t one of 5 brothers, there is no Mr. Collins/Caroline Bingley/Lady C characters. However, there is a spectacularly horrible first impression, frequent heated debates, a heartwarming devotion to siblings, and the challenges of family, society, and personal development. Other similarities are more shades of Jane Austen, but that makes them even more diverting to spot!
- A Brilliant Gender-Swap: Yes! This has to be one of the best and most successful gender-swaps I’ve ever witnessed! I thoroughly appreciated the nuanced way Sonali Dev transformed Jane Austen’s characters into her own. They weren’t reincarnated modern replicas, these characters instead captured key similarities while also exhibiting their own persona. I really enjoyed how these characters were still likable through their flaws. Readers can understand Trisha’s extreme arrogance and sympathize with her reserved/skeptical demeanor, yet at the same time comprehend DJ’s defensive attitude and forgive his errors in judgment.
- Compelling Conflicts: Aside from DJ and Trisha, there are other characters in this story with gripping storylines. I was desperate to know what happened in Yash’s (Trisha’s brother who is running for governor) past that ruined Trisha’s relationship with her family. And I was completely consumed by what would happen to Nisha (Trisha’s sister who is hiding a critical secret from the rest of the family) and Emma Caine (DJ’s artist sister with an operable brain tumor). Not to mention Julia Wickahm – who I knew would commit some heinous act to destroy others. I loved that these conflicts weren’t all the same as the ones we experience in Pride and Prejudice, it added some new intensity and suspense.
- The Raje Family: There are so many members of this illustrious, royal family. I loved learning more about their history and witnessing each family members’ distinct personality. There is definitely some heart-wrenching pasts for some characters, and I appreciated the depth these experiences gave to these characters. Also, it was a lovely switch to see the “Darcy” character come from a big, dynamic family, when it is usually the opposite.
- Other Details: The depiction of immigrant families, Indian culture, funny family nicknames, and inside jokes – I loved all these details that provided such vibrancy and color to this tale. In addition, I absolutely adored every single bit of food described and every decadent and inspiring creation conceived by DJ Caine! What scrumptiously vivid and sensory descriptions. Cooking is indeed an art form.
- It’s A Series!?!: I’m so elated! I could not contain my happiness when I read that this book is the first in a series and that Sonali Dev is planning to write more! I cannot wait to learn who takes center stage in the next story and if it will be inspired by another Jane Austen novel!!
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
That the second book in this series isn’t out yet. I need it yesterday! 😉
WARNING: Due to the use of strong language and reference to a sexual encounter (nothing explicit), I’d recommend this book for readers over the age of 14.
Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors is an inventive, remarkable, and perceptive homage to Jane Austen’s characters that I thoroughly admired. This savory and vibrant tale is appetizing enough to tempt readers who enjoy contemporary stories, dynamic family sagas, and compelling fiction. I heartily recommend!
Yet another "inspired by Austen" pastiche. If these authors truly loved Jane Austen, they would leave her the hell alone and stop trying to profit off of her books. Having two characters dislike each other but click romantically, and naming the guy Darcy doesn't make you another Jane. This could be likeable fluff, but the attempt to make it resemble Austen ruined it for me.
If you DO want to read a fabulous book that was inspired by P&P, try A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. Set in 1950s India, it's not packed with modern bling and branding. It's also over a thousand pages long. But people who truly love Jane (and by that I mean Austen's books, not just the glossy mini-series with hunky heros, or (ugh) the zombie version), should put it on their reading lists, and I need to re-read it myself!
I love how this story took beloved character and repurposed them with a different cultural experience. I loved DJ from the beginning and hard to work to like Trisha. This story made me question some beliefs I have about super wealthy people and that was a good thing. Rich and poor people have stereotypes about how the other is living, and we are all too complex for those shallow assumptions.
I love that the man was the chef and the woman was the renowned surgeon. I also want to delve more into that Indian/Rwandan heritage. I would have loved more about that in the story since Indians and Black or African people don’t have the same experience as far as racial injustice.
Also, there was an implication about Emma and the friend who left the VW beetle. Is there any romantic. Feelings there.
A great story about family dynamics, love and first impressions being correct or are they?
I come upon this book by chance, I’ve never read any books by this author and when I realized this was a Pride and Prejudice retelling I was eager to start as soon as possible.
Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s most acclaimed neurosurgeon. She is considered the black sheep by her Indian American family, the Rajes, a family that has been setting rules since the beginning of their arrival to the continent. Trisha has been breaking those rules, having a chance at redeeming herself. Chef DJ Caine comes into the picture when he is assigned to cook for her family. He has known people like Trisha before and he is not eager to put up with someone that judged him. He cannot pass the opportunity to work for the Rajes since he needs the money for his sister’s surgery, discovering that Trisha is also the only surgeon capable of saving his sister.
I thought this was going to be a romance contemporary book, and it is at some parts. To be honest, for me is not that much of a romance since the main characters don’t come into contact that very often, always trying to avoid each other. However, I enjoyed the author’s writing so much that I didn’t mind the lack of romantic moments. I liked how everything was narrated, and I loved the author’s intake on this retelling of Pride and Prejudice.
I’m a sucker for retellings of Pride and Prejudice, one of my favourite books by Jane Austen. Here Sonali Dev updates the story about about two people passionate about what they do (microneurosurgery for Trisha, and high-end cuisine for DJ (Darcy)). Dev also considers a variety of cultural and racial issues through these two characters and their respective families: Tricia’s being very rich, privileged and high-functioning Indian American and former Indian royalty, while DJ’s comes from a distinctly less exalted and definitely not wealthy mix of Indian and Rwandan and Brit working class. The romance is actually less prominent than the butting together (or against) of different world views and vastly different experiences, though I could still see Jane Austen’s book through the backbone of this story. I have to admit I had some difficulties believing Tricia’s parents could acknowledge their expectations and conditional love could be a problem (it’s not been my experience that Indian parents ever noticed or apologized for their behaviour) so I’m putting this story firmly in fantasy-land. (Yeah, I can believe the Raje’s ridiculous privilege and the medical stuff over the parental forgiveness.) Other than that niggley point, I enjoyed this.