Thoroughly Modern Emma:  Indian Style

Polite Society

polite society cover for the audio editionby Mahesh Rao
Narrated by Deepti Gupta
Penguin Random House Audio |Penguin Audio
Formats available:  Hardcover Paperback, Electronic, Audio
Pub Date: 8.20.19| 9 hours 48 minutes

REVIEWER: Sophia Rose


A modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma with a touch of Crazy Rich Asians set in Delhi, in which the daughter of a wealthy Indian family aspires to match-make for her friends and family, only to find herself caught up in an unforeseen scandal–and an unexpected match of her own.

Beautiful, clever, and very slightly bored, Ania Khurana has Delhi wrapped around her finger. When Ania finds love for her spinster aunt, she realizes her potential as a force for good.

For her next match, Ania sets her sights on Dimple: her newest, sweetest, and, sure, poorest friend. But her good intentions may be misdirected, and when her aunt’s handsome new nephew arrives from America, the social tides in Delhi begin to shift. Surrounded by money old and new, navigating gossip, scheming, and an unforgettable cast of journalists, socialites, gurus, and heirs, Ania discovers that when you aim to please the human heart, things seldom go as planned.

Using Jane Austen’s Emma as a springboard, Polite Society takes us into the lives of a group of characters we never want to part with. Pairing stiletto-sharp observation and social comedy with moments of true tenderness, this delicious romp through the mansions of India’s elite celebrates that there’s no one route to perfect happiness.



Book was provide by publisher. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.


 Polite Society offers the listener a window into the glam life of Delhi’s wealthiest with this colorful modern tribute to Jane Austen’s Emma. 

Ania Khurana is the apple of her widowed father’s eye and has it all her own way as she navigates the glitzy social scene of Delhi.  She has her charities, her pet projects like the book she is writing, a poor friend, Dimple, to guide, and now she wants to try her hand at matchmaking since she was so successful with her Aunt Renu.  Childhood, straight-talking friend Dev who is an archeologist of India’s history, warns her off this endeavor of messing with people’s lives and things get really interesting when her aunt’s nephew arrives from America.  Ania is riding high on her own perfection until she takes a hard tumble and learns that she can and has made some huge mistakes.

I found this one fun because I enjoyed spotting the familiar characters and situations from the original Emma and it also fascinated me with its look at the outlandishly rich and the culture of India.  The narrator Deepti Gupta was as amazing as ever telling Ania’s story.

But, as engaging as I found these aspects, I have to say that I never really took to these characters or felt more than shallowly vested in their story.  I didn’t find them developed into people interesting enough to care.  I think that this was audio and I was enjoying the narrator so much is what kept me going and gave it a sparkle that it might not have had in print.  She had a great voice and captured all the characters and situations well.

Now, I didn’t dislike this story and don’t want to give that impression, but I finished it with a feeling of something lacking.  I thought the tribute to the classic story hit the mark well except this Emma seemed more self-absorbed than the original and the setting of India was a great backdrop for it.  I can recommend this one, particularly in audio, to those looking for modern renditions of the Jane Austen classic Emma


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