Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

TITLE: Ayesha at Last
AUTHOR: Uzma Jalaluddin
LENGTH: 346 pages
PUBLISHED IN: 2018 (Canada; 2019 US)
GENRE: fiction/romance (Pride & Prejudice reboot)
ISBN: 9781984802798
REASON FOR READING: the cover caught my eye at the book store & the summary sounded great–months later, it caught my eye again at the library and I found it’d been on my TBR list for a few months; a Pride & Prejudice retelling always interests me

SUMMARY (book jacket):

Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid, who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and who dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.

When a surprise engagement is announced between Khalid and Hafsa, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.

MY THOUGHTS: I loved this so much. I read it in practically two sittings, because I just didn’t want to put it down. I know Pride & Prejudice like the back of my hand, but this reboot was different and piqued my interest. By “different”, I mean the setting and characters aren’t similar to much I’ve read before. True, Toronto probably isn’t too different than any major city in the US, but still. The cover of this book is what first caught my eye. The woman in hijab attracted my gaze, so I knew it would be different than much of what I’ve read. But after reading it, I can say there was a lot of familiarity in there too, and not just the P&P storyline.

A “modern-day Muslim Pride & Prejudice” is the perfect description for this book. Add in a dash of Bollywood, and there you have it. Because the storyline is familiar to me, I couldn’t help but keep reading because I just wanted to see how this author would put in her own details to make it all work. The tension was there and I just wanted to see how it would resolve itself. I was especially interested in seeing what the villains were going to do to make them so…villainous. I think that the themes of pride and prejudice will never go out of style–these are traits people will always have, and it’s a classic you-know-what-happens-when-you-assume situation that spirals out of control.

Quotes I Liked

“Love sought is good, but given unsought better.” (This is actually a quote from Shakespeare, but I don’t know what work)

“Flowers are so often mistaken as superfluous, yet their purpose is intricate and clever. They attract pollinators, ensuring their survival, and in turn they are consumed for their nutritional value. Never underestimate a flower.” (p277-8)

“Always dream together, Raja. Always leave space in your life to grow and soften.” (p340)

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