Polite Society

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 20 Aug 2019

Member Reviews

https://www.smartertravel.com/9-new-fall-books-to-read-immediately-2/

Living amid the glitzy high-society scene of Delhi, bored socialite Ania Khurana tries her hand at matchmaking—until a handsome interloper from America comes and changes everything.
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I was excited to see a retelling of Emma set in South Asia; however, this book fell flat for me. While Emma was about the titular character's growth and development, I didn't see any sort of growth for the main character of Polite Society. In fact, it seemed like Rao was distancing himself from his own characters, as though he disliked writing them. Additionally, while this book has been compared to Crazy Rich Asians, it lacked not only the depth, but also the enthusiasm to earn this comparison.
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Thank you for the opportunity to read this title. Unfortunately, I was unable to get into it. Although it seemed like a perfect title for me as a Janeite, it just fell flat. As I didn't finish it, I will not be sharing a review on Goodreads so as not to skew the ratings.
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Got three chapters in before quitting.  Only superficially similar to Austen's Emma.  Nothing but fluff.
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Combining Jane Austen’s Emma with Crazy Rich Asians and setting it in the upper class of contemporary Delhi society is not a bad idea - after all, they’re two great (though very different) books about the mores of the often foolish wealthy. But Polite Society lacks Austen’s deeply developed characters and her affection for them, and the tone lacks Kwan’s fizzy exuberance. The plot neatly matches Emma, though adds in a lot more background about the secondary characters as well as frequently switching to their point of view, but there are a lot of loose ends (is the author thinking sequel?) The tone never quite knows if it should be light or dark; it feels like it should be a romp but there is genuine misery and misfortune and many of the characters seem adrift. The pacing is leisurely and often meanders but then the ending feels rushed and unfinished. Having said all that, I was quite taken by all the goings on of Ania (Emma) and her circle but never felt truly absorbed.

Thanks to Netgalley and Putnam for the digital review copy.
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I love Jane Austen. However, Emma is my favorite novel because I love Mr. Knightley, who has the courage to tell Emma her flaws. It is because of Mr. Knightley that Emma grows as a character. Therefore, I was excited to read this because I wanted to see how Emma would be retold in an modern Indian culture.
Unfortunately, this novel deviated from the original. This made it hard for me to follow because I know the story so well that I know what would happen, and I can enjoy the book easily. I did not know what was going to happen, and it took the enjoyment of the retelling away.
Another thing I did not like about this book is how the author discusses culture. The author did not explain any details  on the customs of Indian culture. The author mentions it, but does not explain why. For instance, her friend Dimple is surprised about going into Aina’s bedroom. Why is she surprised? Yet the author never explains. By explaining the culture to a reader who does not know much about their would make it a more enjoyable and learning experience.
Overall, this retelling left much to be desired. For fans of Emma retellings, I suggest that they not only read the original instead but also Sarah Price’s The Matchmaker. It is not only a faithful retelling of Emma, but it does an excellent job in introducing readers to a new culture and gives the reader a detailed insight into that particular culture’s daily lifestyle.
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I’m usually a total sucker for Austen re-writes, and I was excited to see this modern retelling of Emma in India. It’s usually Pride and Prejudice that’s being retold, so I was looking forward to a version of Emma.

Unfortunately, this novel was a real disappointment. It has none of the depth, social critique, humor, or charm of Austen’s original. The Emma character, Ania, has all of her flaws, but no redeeming qualities. She’s petty and even cruel in one scene. She doesn’t redeem herself by the end, and I really didn’t care about her relationship with Dev, the Knightley character. 

In fact, the most interesting character is Dimple (Harriet Smith), who is sweet and much more thoughtful and observant than Ania. 

I know that Emma is often the most disliked of Austen’s protagonists, but that doesn’t mean that Ania has to be this spoiled and thoughtless.
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I've never loved Emma, but found, in this novel, a glittering gathering of old friends in new paper and old melancholy. This one stands out as what Crazy Rich Asians should have been but without the sourness and overall malaise.
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A fantastic fun delicious read.A look at society in Delhi it is hilarious sweet charming a wonderful read.The characters come pop off the pages.perfect summer entertainment.#netgalley #penguinputnam
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Loved this book. It is a great read that goes quick. Definitely one you need to pick up this summer.
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Ania is very rich, very interested in "helping" her friends, family and acquaintances, she is also trying to write a novel.  Some of these priorities shift a bit according to order of importance as life goes on.   After the successful match of her elder aunt she sets sights on fixing up her friend Dimple, helping her other friend Dev with his lecture series, manage her social engagements and somehow write a novel in the midst of her very busy life.  This is a novel of the New India, with wealthy upper classes, climbing social class, international lives and family secrets.  Ania is not a malicious woman she's just trying to help others find the happiness and working to find the balance in herself that the loss of her mother very early in her life caused.  Helping others is her way to herself on her journey through life.  She might be a bit mixed up though.  Her aunt and her husband's marriage was a matter of their own attraction and courtship and when her plans for her friend Dimple's love life fall apart and her life is a mess she begins to doubt.  When scandal rocks her social set and her troubles begin to settle in he mind, her best friend gets engaged and she might have found love where she had not been looking for it.
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Not a fan, got to chapter three and had to stop.
Not my kind of book.
The book kept dragging on and on, nothing of interest to me.
I think i was expecting something closer to etiquette, old fashioned ways.
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I'm a sucker for a Jane Austen story. This update of Emma was a mixed bag for me. 

Things I loved:
The tone was pitch perfect. It felt just like an updated, Indian Jane Austen should feel, Arch and insightful, but ultimately generous to its characters.
The setting was fun. I agreed with a previous reviewer who compared it to Crazy Rich Asians (although not so much in tone). These people are RICH and jetsetting, at once mindful and oblivious to their privilege.
The characters felt both modern and like the original characters that inspired them.
The story is, as you would expect, wonderful. It's Emma.

Things I'm not sure about:
The rotating POV is certainly The Way Things Are Done now, but I'm not sure if I wanted other viewpoints besides Emma/Ania. Part of the charm of the original novel is that we get to see things through her limited viewpoint. We can see at times where she is wrong and selfish but at other times we are in the dark as she is. In Polite Society, we know more than Ania does and are without her for long stretches of the novel. Other characters that aren't POV characters remain a mystery all the way to the end. That said, the Harriet character, Dimple, benefited from showing her POV.
The length. The book sagged in the middle. I don't know if what is ultimately a slight story was able to sustain all the side characters and subplots

Things I hated:
The ending. There is so much anticipation for an ending we know is coming and it just.. ends. The love declaration happens offscreen, there is no confrontation of Ania's misjudgments and errors, Side plots developed for this novel are either wrapped up too quickly and offscreen or not at all. (For example, we spend a great deal of time on the Kamya character's subplot, but never get her POV or a real resolution to her story.)

Not enough Dev. This is covered in my earlier points, but it merits emphasis. Why does Ania love Dev? Why does Dev love Ania? If you were expanding POV's, why not include Dev's? It was hard enough to discern their feelings for each other if you knew he was meant to be Mr Knightley, but if you were new to this story, this would seem an out-of-nowhere plot twist.
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I'm so excited to have won an egalley of POLITE SOCIETY on Shelf Awareness! Thank you for the chance!
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