Friday, June 28, 2019

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev

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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...

A family trying to build home in a new land.

A man who has never felt at home anywhere.

And a choice to be made between the two.

Source: advance e-galley provided in exchange for an honest review

In her update of the Jane Austen classic, Dev not only flips gender roles - Trisha as Darcy and DJ as Elizabeth - she also spices things up with a diverse cast whose cultural backgrounds add interesting new layers to this story of privilege and stereotypes. Trisha may come from a family with a rich royal heritage and with all the conveniences to make her upbringing ideal, but that doesn't mean her life doesn't come with its own set of complications. She's a successful neurosurgeon who since a young age has always been able to identify a problem and set her mind to solve it. She prides herself on her work but the rest of her life is a different story. Her dating life is weird and her relationship with her parents is strained, to say the least. Still, as an ever dutiful daughter brought up to value family, she is devoted to them. DJ's history is complex for different reasons. After his father died, his father's racists family disowned him, his sister and his mother. His single mother then worked herself to the bone to support them before she passed away while DJ and Emma were still young. They were on their own then relying on the kindness of a family friend who provided shelter and a safe haven for them. When Emma gets sick and the only person who can help her is Trisha, DJ drops everything and relocates his catering business from England to the States so he can be there for her. 

Trisha and DJ meet when he's catering her parents' event and it's not a meet-cute as they instantly rub each other the wrong way. It seems that with every encounter after that they manage to find new ways to unintentionally offend the other. DJ, a by-product of his tough upbringing and experiences, is a hardened character who doesn't have time for distractions or people who'd discount him so easily. He's sensitive about how he's perceived and this makes his personality a bit prickly. The trouble for him is that Trisha discounts him constantly while simultaneously making him mad for her. And she also happens to be Emma's doctor, the only person capable of saving his sister. Trisha herself is a bit oblivious as to how her demeanor and tone can put people off.

Along with economic disparity Dev includes current hot button issues such as colourism, racial profiling, and how successful career-driven women are perceived and treated in the workplace. There's also the ups and downs of family relationships. I took to Trisha right away. I liked her straight-forwardness and her dry humour but what makes her stand out is her unflappable confidence in her gift as a neurosurgeon. There's just something impressive about a woman who fights sexism in the workplace by simply being adept at her work and not rising to the bait when others try to ruffle her. The fact that she doesn't have it all together in every aspect of her life made her real to me. Same with DJ who's talented in the kitchen but is cool around people he's unfamiliar with. The bad guy, who has ties to Trisha, comes in the form of Julia Wickham as a sly, devious scoundrel who betrays people's trust during their most vulnerable moments. She's the worst and slimy to the core.

I knew I had to read this novel as soon as I'd heard about it. Sonali Dev impeccable at drawing you in to the story rather than leaving you there as a bystander. And let's talk about the food! DJ's French-Indian creations are mouthwatering temptations. If only I could reach in and taste some of them. As a retelling of the classic, it's fun to see it in a contemporary setting with what feels like a brand new cast of characters. I would LOVE to see this turned into a movie by none other than Gurinder Chadha (director of one of my favourite movies, Bend it Like Beckam). Can you just imagine how awesome that would be? Anyway, make sure you read Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors while I pray that my wish comes true.

~ Bel

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