Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Book Review: Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin


Ayesha at Last

By:
Uzma Jalaluddin

Release Date:
June 4, 2019

Publisher:
Berkley Books

Source:
Finished Copy received in exchange for a honest review 

Book Synopsis:
A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love. 

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 dresses like he belongs in the seventh century. 

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.



 

Lindy's Thoughs:

Let's take a journey back in time...  Do you remember what it felt like to fall in love for the very first time?  It was so exciting!  Something as simple as looking in to each others eyes, exchanging a smile, sharing a laugh, or the butterflies that flitted like crazy in your stomach upon seeing that person in a crowded room for the first time....It was about savoring the simple things.  It was an exciting adventure that built over time.  Love wasn't all about the carnal and physical intimacy that is more of a focus in modern times.

That is what the story, Ayesha at Last reminded me of.  It was a breathtakingly beautiful love story, where every little simple thing carried oh so much more meaning.  Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite classics of all time.  That was what initially sparked my interest in this story.  However, it stood brilliantly all on its own.  Ms. Jalauddin's writing style was effortless.  The moment I started reading, I found myself completely immersed in Ayesha and Khalid's love story.  The vivid imagery, the connection and love that took the time to grow for these two main characters, and an abundance of feeling, made this read everything I had hoped for and more.

Ayesha at Last, touched a lot on the way that our initial perceptions of people can cause us to be judgemental, and often times we are wrong in those perceptions.  It was a story that took the opportunity to speak on Indian Culture, family dynamics, the many facets and negative connotations that come from being a practicing Muslim in the modern world, hypocrisy, having the courage to take charge of one's happiness without letting fear or other people get in your way, and most of all; love.

The secondary cast did an excellent job of supporting the main characters.  I especially loved Ayesha's grandparents, her Nana and Nani.  They were both very loving and wise.  I looked forward to being in these characters presence.  Nana had a fondness for quoting Shakespeare whenever he wanted to give advice, and I found myself paying extra close attention to his recitations.  Clara was a good friend who helped both Ayesha and Khalid, and I liked her a lot.  

There were quite a few characters that I disliked with a vengeance!  Khalid's mother, Farzana, tops the list.  She was controlling, manipulative, and I couldn't find one redeeming quality about her.  Khalid's boss, Sheila, was a prejudice egomaniac, and made my blood boil.  Ayesha's cousin, Hafsa, was spoiled and self-centered.  Initially, I gave her the benefit of the doubt, because she was young and naive.  However, there was something she ends up doing, that made me see her as a narcissist that only cared about herself.  The author tries to redeem her in the story, but I just couldn't forgive and forget.

I highly recommend this gorgeous love story!  It will completely pull you in, and leave you with a smile on your face, as it comes to its sweet conclusion.  If you enjoy reading the classics, retellings, multicultural literature, or beautiful love stories you should pick this one up!


Ro's Take on this Journey:

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin lives up to it's reputation as being a modern day Pride and Prejudice; my favorite love story of all time!  Ms. Jalaluddin has brought us a wonderful love story with so much insight and so many emotions.  I was pulled in to the life of the two main characters, Ayesha and Khalid and their respective families from the first paragraph, and couldn't put the book down.  They live in an ethnically diverse neighborhood with immigrants from all over the world.  These  characters are two lonely souls, who are deeply scarred from the vesectatudes of life, that come together against all odds.

Ayesha is a strong willed, educated woman with firm principals and ideals about how she wants to live her life, and how Mr. Right is going to fit in. Though Ayesha is only 27, Hafsa repeatedly refers to her as a spinster, as does the rest of the family.  Hafsa is her younger cousin in love with love, attention, and run by dollar signs.  Her parents are wealthy and immigrated Ayesha and her mother and grandparents from India to Canada since the taboo death of her father, and now Ayesha feels compelled to do whatever they ask, because she feels obligated to them. 

Ayesha is very outspoken and opinionated, which causes a lot of problems for her with the elder Aunties, who think she hasn't been brought up properly.  She has a wonderful relationship with her grandfather, she calls Nana, who is a retired English Professor from Osmania University in Hyderabad, India, and a poet.  He is always reciting Shakespearean quotes, and making the reader feel what real love is.  The reader becomes compelled to bring out their own book of Shakespeare and find themselves the love of their lives as he has in his lyrical world.  Ayesha is always trying to get him to stop smoking to no avail.  Her Grandmother, Nani, makes exotic dishes perfectly formed with just the right spices to open the senses, and they go wild when Ayesha and Khalid take a cooking lesson with her in their cozy kitchen. 

Ayesha works as a substitute teacher, while waiting for a permanent position to open up.  Her real passion is writing poetry and going to Bella's, an open mike, to recite her poetry.  She doesn't believe in herself enough to make a full commitment, but carries her poetry journal in her bag everywhere she goes!  Ayesha is confused, but finds her way little by little, when she realizes that Khalid might not be so bad after all.  This is when she becomes aware of his inner soul, and what a loving heart he has.

Khalid lives alone with his very domineering mother, after the sudden death of his father six years ago, and is kept in the dark about the circumstances following the estrangement of his older sister, Zareena.  Though he does everything his mother requests of him always, he still keeps in contact with his sister, without his mother's knowledge.   His mother is not the woman he thinks, and this redirects his journey in the direction he desires. 

This book was phenomenal!!!   A must read!  Ms. Jalaluddin has outdone herself!  I am hoping for a second book that keeps us in Ayesha and Khalid's lives.  I didn't want this book to end!  It was a journey I loved every minute of.  The ups and downs were a bumpy road that kept me wanting to move forward...

My Favorite Quotes from Nana:

"This is just an illusion, as is most of reality, this is not a cigarette."

"We are all just cosmic players in the eternal dance of life."

I give Ayesha 5 Emotionally packed, dramatic, magical, love always wins Stars...







Purchase At:




About the Author:

Uzma Jalaluddin is the author of AYESHA AT LAST, a revamped Pride and Prejudice set in a close-knit Toronto Muslim community. The book has been featured in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Chatelaine, Quill and Quire and The New York Times. She has been a guest on television shows Cityline, CTV Your Morning and The Social, as well as CBC Radio. AYESHA AT LAST was recently optioned for film by Pascal Pictures. In addition to fiction, Uzma writes a culture and parenting column for The Toronto Star. She lives in the Greater Toronto Area with her husband and two sons.




19 comments:

  1. I loved hearing both of your thoughts on this book. What wonderful reviews and I am adding this to my list.

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    1. I'm so glad! I think you will love this story!

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  2. Loving your reviews! Sometimes hating characters is as much fun as loving them :)

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    1. I agree! That's when you know an author really brought their characters to life too!

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  3. I love when the secondary cast is great! The grandparents sound amazing! Lovely review!
    Genesis @ Whispering Chapters

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    1. Thank You Genesis! The grandparents were amongst my favorite characters!

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  4. Oh that's great! 2 wonderful reviews for a new book for me!

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  5. I got all warm and fuzzy from your intro there, Lindy. And, Ro's descriptions of Ayesha have me thinking I will love and root for her.

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  6. I'm happy to see you loved this one, Lindy! I didn't read your review because I'll be picking this up soon, but I'm thrilled to see your 4.5 stars. I'll come back to your review once I've finished mine. :)

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    1. I'm do excited to see that you are going to be reading and rewvieiwig this one as well! I can't wait to see what you think. I'll be looking for your review!

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  7. Very happy to see that you have reviewed this.

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    1. I'm happy I got the chance to read and review this too.

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  8. I LOVE multiculture books! Sounds like you and Ro really loved it too. ❤️ It was neat reading both of your POVs! This sounds like a must read for me.

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    1. I hope you read it Dani! It's one of my favorite reads of 2019!!! I can't recommend its enough!!!

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  9. I think the author did a great job with this re-telling! I loved Ayesha's grandparents, too. And yes, Shelia was awful! Lovely review, Lindy! :)

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