There’s a lot to really like about Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, there’s Trisha Raje and her delightful, beautiful family and the wonderful aroma of the foods featured on the pages, but, sadly, for me, so much of the story got bogged down by an exceptionally angry...
There’s a lot to really like about Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, there’s Trisha Raje and her delightful, beautiful family and the wonderful aroma of the foods featured on the pages, but, sadly, for me, so much of the story got bogged down by an exceptionally angry hero.
Having never read a book from Sonali Dev before-but knowing her Indian background-I picked up Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, looking forward to a culturally-rich story that played off one of my favorite novels of all time. Meeting the Raje family was a delight and they met every expectation I had, from the stoic and proper father to the loving grandmother who counted the days between visits from her grandchildren. Dev brought these people to life and I missed them as soon as I closed the book, especially Trisha.
Trisha Raje is one of my favorite characters that I’ve read in the last few months. A brilliant surgeon who may or may not be on the spectrum, she’s justifiably arrogant about her abilities and completely insecure in her interactions with anyone who isn’t related to her by blood. Despite a self-imposed isolation from many family activities after a bad choice on her part years ago that almost destroyed her brother’s political career, she’s dedicated to her family, loves them unconditionally, appreciates good food, and is loyal to a fault. Her passion for medicine and healing pulsates off the page, but it’s her vulnerability outside of the operating room that really resonated with me. Dev wrote her perfectly.
While Trisha wears the role of Darcy in this retelling of Pride and Prejudice (and does so brilliantly), it’s Chef Darcy “DJ” Caine that takes on the poorer, looked down upon persona of Elizabeth Bennett. It’s in DJ that the book loses its ability to entertain and instead becomes a harsh lesson on what it means to be brown or black in today’s America and a severe scolding of the western world in general. While I expected this to a degree, after all it is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, DJ’s anger and resentment hovers on every page like a dark cloud, making it almost impossible for me, as a reader, to empathize with him. Instead I found myself wanting to skip the pages that he narrated. And, while I own that my response to DJ may reflect my own life experiences, I was more bothered that his anger and resentment stalled out the overall story, both his own journey and his relationship with Trisha. It’s not until the 65% mark that DJ starts to look internally at his own prejudices and, had I not been reviewing, I would have put down the book long before this. Which would have been a shame because once he recognized how he’d misjudged Trisha and started to see his life through different lenses, he became very likable and the book took off.
Overall, I enjoyed Sonali Dev''s writing and her depiction of Indian-American culture. As the daughter of an immigrant, this is something that I can relate to so easily and I look forward to reading more of her work.