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Polite Society

2.86  ·  Rating details ·  738 ratings  ·  169 reviews
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. W
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published August 17th 2018 by Penguin Random House India
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Average rating 2.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  738 ratings  ·  169 reviews

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Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mahesh Rao reinterprets Jane Austen's Emma in a novel set in Delhi in India. I should say that Emma is my least favourite in the Austen canon, Emma is not a character that I felt any affinity or appreciation for. In this version, perhaps it is not surprising that I was less than enamoured by the privileged and entitled 25 year old socialite, Ania Khurana, the only daughter and child of the super rich Dileep. With a mother who died when she was too young to remember, this no doubt contributed to ...more
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Polite Society is a perfect re-telling story of Emma from Jane Austen, set in one of extravagant country like India the novel is highly anticipated and recommend from us!
The amazing culture and Indian traditions are detailed brilliantly, the background and food was something fascinating to read and it made the novel so unique!
The story is captivating and it will make you feel different kind of emotions, I enjoyed the well crafted stories that came by, Mahesh had an amazing structure to tell the
I’ve been on a roll for almost the past year, trying to read as many modern Jane Austen retellings as I can. So when I found that there was a new version of Emma set in Delhi, I just had to get my hands on it.

Emma is one of those books that’s not easy to like, especially because of our titular character. The retellings which stay close to the original tend to have similar concerns, so I really wanted to see how the author would manage to make me like the story here. I think the author’s decisio
Cindy Burnett
2.5 stars

I am a huge Jane Austen fan and love to read retellings of her books (unless they involve vampires or zombies) so I was excited to read POLITE SOCIETY, a modern retelling of EMMA. I realize that retellings would be boring if they took the original tale and just copied it with a new setting or other background. However, I found it very distracting that POLITE SOCIETY seemed to diverge so greatly from EMMA, and then the ending sort of fell apart which ruined the book for me. Maybe I am ju
Polite Society is a modern day re-telling of Emma, by Jane Austin set in India. Normally I'm not a fan of re-tellings because I like the original too much, with the possible exception of fairy tales and fables. However, because of the caste system or class structure in India, this particular version works well. The story is cleverly written with a lot of wit and charm. Sadly, for me, I didn't enjoy Polite Society as much as I had hoped. I think there is too much feminist in me to think anything ...more
Jane Austen’s Emma is not a favourite of mine. I’ve read it only once, unlike a few of her other titles, as I never particularly liked Emma, the main character, finding her and her high-handed meddling in others’ lives irritating.
Mahesh Rao transports this story to present day, terribly smoggy Delhi. Ania Khurana is a 25-year old socialite, breezily moving through her life, who takes it upon herself to interfere in Dimple’s life. Dimple is attracted to a young man, Ankit, whom Ania decides isn’t
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-talkin
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
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 switc ...more
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Austen retellings & Crazy Rich Asians
Ania is just as exhausting as I remember Austen's Emma so Rao hit that mark perfectly. Actually maybe a little more because she had social media preoccupation & lived in a state of perpetually being accessorized appropriately just in case some random took a pic and posted on Instagram (she'll carry around an empty hatbox just to look "casually" perfectly accessorized). Admittedly, while I'm an Austen fan and always want to get my hands on retellings, Emma is not my favourite work. I'm a Persuasi ...more
I made it to 20% of this book. Chick lit is just not my genre. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
very kicked that i am (i think?) the first rater of this book on goodreads!! i feel like i've made it in life!!

i adore emma retellings & this one is no exception: it is so cleverly told, so funny and incisive and readable, and unexpectedly touching. (side note: it feels like delhi high society is exactly where emma was meant to be transposed.) not to be one of those "book review bingo" clichés but i legitimately could not put this book down: it's not just a great emma retelling, but a truly fant
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf, booktrib-wins
Thanks to BookTrib and Penguin/Random House.

I just couldn't get into this book at all and gave it 100 pages (my usual time to stop reading a book if it doesn't get flowing).

Sometimes you have to be a fan of a classic book, in this case, a Jane Austen Emma fan to read this because it got lost in translation for me, as do a lot of modern retelling of books.

It was definitely a chick lit book since she was in her 20s. I got bored seeing her trying to fix up her best friend Dimples with a man on the
When I read the opening of Polite Society on First Look Book Club I was intrigued, and when I won a copy of the novel I was pleased.

The story is inspired by Jane Austen's Emma, only set in Dehli among the upper strata of society.

Early on I was laughing out loud. I even selected a sentence to share on David Abram's Sunday Sentence on Twitter. Roa's satire permeates the story.

In some ways, Ania's initial interest in Dimple's affairs could be placed on the same spectrum of charitable instincts as
Monica Kim: Reader in Emerald City
DNF @ 25%, just could not get into the characters...
Paula  Phillips
One of my favorite tropes to read is when authors decide to write renditions/variants of classic novels and even more so when they bring them into the modern centuries. This one grabbed my attention at the library, especially after seeing the movie Emma at the cinemas. Polite Society is a modern version of the classic Jane Austen story "Emma" and is set in India. Our Emma is Ania Khurana and her best friend is Dimple whom we knew in the original story as Harriet. Our Elton, the character she wan ...more
Dec 25, 2019 added it
Shelves: dnf
DNF no star rating.

Around chapter 13 I started skimming and decided I wasn't enjoying the story or relating to any of the characters. Not my cup of darjeeling.
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The televisions series "Made in Heaven" dealt with a class of Delhi that I knew existed but never got to deal with. The class of the jet-setting millionaires, addicts, and farmhouse-owners. Since, then, each time I see someone who 'fits the bill', I silently address them as the "Made in Heaven" types! 

Rao's "Polite Society" has now become the book equivalent of the "MIH" series for me. Rao tracks a bunch of families loosely connected through affairs, businesses and the Delhi cocktail party circu
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
I received a free digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Some of the descriptions in Polite Society are lovely, but I found the characters to be flat and vapid. Any attempts at humor are lost because while the characters make tone-deaf remarks, there is no complexity to balance their ignorance. I ultimately decided not to finish the novel because the characters weren't sustaining my interest.

Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm a sucker for a Jane Austen re-telling and especially an Indian one. What I really enjoyed about this book was that, yes, it had the comedy-of-manners sort of wry humor you'd expect from something Austen-ish. But was also serious and sad around the edges. The chapters would end in this lovely sort of zoom out from the ridiculous-ness of the lives of these very wealthy Indians to a tiny glimpse of the world for everyone else. The pool boy at the very end of the book. A woman in the market. I r ...more
An Indian retelling of Emma which did justice to the scathing but hilarious social commentary of Jane Austen but fell short in the domain of the main love story. I wish there was a slightly more focus on Ania/Dev's relationship, especially towards the end. Felt the lack of those big Emma/Mr Knightley confrontations, even the movie "Aisha" had them ffs.
My complaints as a romance reader aside, this should be one of THE books to read if you want to know more about India. It has some really beautif

A full point+ deduction for the ending. An excellent Emma(Ania)/Mr K(Dev) combo...but they are together rarely. Best Harriet Smith(Dimple) I've encountered but other minor characters are various shades of vile. Unhappy endings for most minor characters...Edith "I've never met an unhappy I didn't want to write" Wharton would have impressed! Yikes!! And many know how I feel about Jane Fairfax. Worst "Jane Fairfax" EVER!!!!! Boooooohissss.
Feb 07, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I truly love a book that revolves around a culture and background that I am not familiar with, and Polite Society did that. I learned a lot about Indian culture and Delhi that I did not know, while enjoying the story of Ania, who enjoys trying to set people up to become couples. It is a reimagining of Jane Austen's Emma, and so enjoyable! ...more
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Feb 25, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had to quit almost halfway through. I have not read Emma but I just found no plot or climax after finishing halfway. I was looking for some sort of story but it just seemed to be stories about the characters and no main theme.
katayoun Masoodi
must admit that Emma is not among my favorite books and after reading this book i am not sure that if i remember the book correctly and or that all i remember is the gwyneth paltrow movie, which i really didn't like. so that said, the only thing that made me want to read the book was the delhi setting, and for me the first third of the book was definitely like the gwyneth paltrow movie, i was thinking of giving up and then the book changed, it got darker and the characters and writing more inter ...more
Sep 22, 2019 rated it did not like it
DNF. So boring.
(I received an ARC of this novel in a Goodreads Giveaway)
(2.5 stars rounded up)

Before stating anything else, I'll admit that I've never read Emma and I am not a huge fan of Pride and Prejudice, however; the idea of a modern day Emma meets Crazy Rich Asians set in Delhi truly intrigued me.

While I loved Rao's beautifully descriptive writing, I found the pacing a bit slow and some of the characters to be rather dry. However, having been somewhat familiar with Austen's writing style and how she int
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Never read Emma. But this was mostly fun. A lot of satire, and eventually becoming darker.
Yes, you also get the feeling of being left behind, as right from the start to end, Ania remains mostly where she was, but the rest enter her life and mostly move on. I wonder if that was part of Emma too.

What really works is the very precise language, where people use words like "civilastrice" and not feel out of place. And I was really glad for the print. That's the second novel from this year that I've
Anil Dhingra
Sep 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-2018
This is a book about the lives of the south Delhi and other socialites. Tongue in cheek, the author tries to make situations humorous but doesn't really succeed. A number of interesting characters are described, party scenes, gossip, anecdotes and incidents. A compilation of Shobha Dey type of articles.
Fails to keep the reader hooked. Narrative is weak. I wish it was better as we identify with most places especially of Delhi.
Oct 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Most of the plot takes place at the Khurana Residence, Prithviraj Road in Lutyens Delhi. A rich, well-connected household surrounded by social creepers and climbers & jewel-decorated reptiles of humans. For the Khuranas lavish parties, expensive art fairs, vacations in the Mediterranean are all but a way of life.

The central character, Ania Khurana, is a young, beautiful, rich & well groomed girl who is incredibly vain, disparaging & catty. She is constantly preoccupied with stage-managing her l
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