Her Story: Ladies In Literature with Nisha Sharma

Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a special, month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader in which we celebrate the literary female role models whose stories have inspired and empowered us since time immemorial. From Harriet M. Welsch to Anne Shirley, Becky Bloomwood to Hermione Granger, Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a series created for women, by women as twenty-four authors answer the question: “Who’s your heroine?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!

About Nisha Sharma

Award-winning author Nisha Sharma was raised in the countryside of Northeast, Pennsylvania. With very little to do in a small town, Nisha filled her spare time with eighties music, Bollywood movies, and lots of romance novels. When she ran out of romances to read at her local library, she started writing sequels to her favorites and she’s been writing ever since. Her young adult romance, My So-Called Bollywood Life, comes out in the Spring of 2017 with Crown Books for Young Readers.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramPinterestGoodreads

Because I grew up in a culture where romance was infused in the arts, reading romance novels was destiny for me. I started at a young age with stories like The Babysitter’s Club (I basically read them for Ann and Logan’s dating life) and slowly drifted towards adult romances like novels written by Nora Roberts or Linda Howard.

When I hit my teen years, my family’s expectations of me became a bit clearer and directly conflicted with all of the wonderful happily-ever-after stories I’d been reading. I was to get a degree, get married, have babies and then my babies were to have babies. Oh, and to make things a bit more difficult? The dude had to be of a particular Indian background with enough moolah to support me for when I’m at home taking care of my young. (Edit: This has changed now that I’m still single at 30. Anyone will do.)

It all made sense. Indian culture, which affected my reading choices, was all about love stories because reality was all about obligations, arranged matches, expectations, etc.

I was conflicted. Confused. Annoyed.

And then I read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen one summer and my life changed.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

Austen’s opening line of Pride and Prejudice, straight from the intelligent, witty voice of Elizabeth, Lizzie/Liza Bennet was exactly what I needed to bring to focus what I couldn’t see clearly in my own life.

Elizabeth Bennet is one of five daughters and her father’s favorite. She’s well read, spirited, independent (as much as a women from middle class 19th century England can be) and has a sharp tongue that sometimes gets her into trouble. She knows that her mother wants her married and any man with a big enough bank account would do. The only problem is that Elizabeth wants someone who actually has affection for her as a person (read: love) even though she knows that with her family background, (read: obnoxious mother and middle class upbringing), that is probably not going to happen. That’s why the first line of the book is so perfect. It’s cheeky, sarcastic and carries the weight of societal expectations.

When Elizabeth meets the hero Mr. Darcy, instead of losing that sense of self, she becomes stronger, more open, and more convicted in her beliefs as a person. The scene that conveys this the most is when Mr. Darcy proposes to her the first time. Let’s face it, the dude botched the whole thing. He calls her poor, says that her family is beneath him, and that he should be marrying someone more at his level, but despite all that he’s willing to have her. A woman in 19th century England with poor possibilities for marrying someone at Darcy’s stature may have taken the jerk up on his offer regardless, but not Elizabeth. She calls him out, and does so with such fantastic gusto that Darcy feels the need to explain himself and apologize in a letter.

After first reading Pride and Prejudice, I knew Elizabeth Bennet was the fictional character that I would do my best to embody in real life. She saw through the façade of family obligations and societal pressure and stayed true to the person she was despite all that. Even if she was being unconventional, it didn’t matter.

Her truest test came when Darcy’s aunt, Lady Catherine, came to tell her that any rumors of her engagement to Darcy had to be immediately quashed because Elizabeth wasn’t nearly as qualified to be an upper class wife that Darcy needed as Lady Catherine’s own daughter. Elizabeth’s response was so perfect that it said everything about who she was as a person with that one simple retort. “He is a gentleman, I am a gentleman’s daughter. So far we are equals.” (Chapter 56)

I know that many people read Pride and Prejudice because they love Darcy, and hey, I am one big supporter of sexy rich men who do things out of love, but Elizabeth is by far the hero of the story. She sets an example that I try to follow to this day. Say what’s on your mind, love family, and never, ever, ever apologize for the person you are and were meant to be.

Because of that lesson alone, Elizabeth Bennet is my favorite lady in literature.

Lizzie Bennet, Nisha’s kitten, plus her favorite book that she likes to chew on when her mom isn’t watching.

Title My So-Called Bollywood Life
Author Nisha Sharma
Pages N/A
Genre Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Publisher Crown Books for Young Readers
To Be Published Spring 2017
Find It On Goodreads

Winnie Metha, Bollywood film groupie, has a dilemma: her boyfriend breaks up with her one week before senior year and instead of running the Princeton, NJ student film festival with him, she has to compete against him for the spot. Dev Khanna, indie film savant, has a solution: sabotage Raj the douchy-ex and take over as festival chair. Dev will help of course, as long as his movie short gets the best spot in the festival lineup. At first, the plan seems to be working…until Winnie falls in love with the one guy who just may be the perfect hero she’s been waiting for.

In a story where high school has more drama than the Indian film industry, two Indian Americans learn that a little Bollywood romance just may be the key to a happily ever after.

3 responses to “Her Story: Ladies In Literature with Nisha Sharma”

  1. “Never, ever, ever apologize for the person you are and were meant to be.” <3
    Shelumiel @ Bookish and Awesome recently posted…Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases for the Rest of 2015My Profile

  2. Alexa S. says:

    Oh, I ADORE this post! Nisha, your thoughts on Elizabeth Bennet are fantastic, and I agree 100%. It’s always nice to remember that she’s such a great, fierce female in literature!
    Alexa S. recently posted…The Lexie Project: On BFFsMy Profile

  3. Nisha says:

    Thanks guys! And thanks Jen for being such an amazing host. Your support is so humbling!

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