When Love Marriage floated into my line of sight, I was immediately intrigued by the note on the cover that states A NOVEL BY BOOKER PRIZE SHORT-LISTED AUTHOR OF BRICK LANE. Until that I time, I had never heard of neither Monica Ali nor Brick Lane. A little research and that was easily explained by the fact that Brick Lane was short-listed for the Booker Prize in 2003. (That was the year that Vernon God Little won – just in case you’re like me and that is what you would have asked next.)
Brick Lane was summarized like this:
Still in her teenage years, Nazneen finds herself in an arranged marriage with a disappointed older man. Away from her Bangladeshi village, home is now a cramped flat in a high-rise block in London’s East End. Nazneen knows not a word of English, and is forced to depend on her husband.
Confined in her tiny flat, Nazneen sews furiously for a living, shut away with her buttons and linings – until the radical Karim steps unexpectedly into her life. On a background of racial conflict and tension, they embark on a love affair that forces Nazneen finally to take control of her fate.
Love Marriage is summarized like this:
Yasmin Ghorami in twenty-six, in training to be a doctor (like her Indian-born father), and engaged to the charismatic, upper-class Joe Sangster, whose formidable mother, Harriet, is a famous feminist. The gulf between families is vast. So, too, is the gulf in sexual experience between Yasmin and Joe.
As the wedding day draws near, misunderstandings, infidelities, and long-held secrets upend both Yasmin’s relationship and that of her parents, a “love marriage,” according to the family lore that Yasmin has believed all her life.
A gloriously acute observer of class, sexual mores, and the mysteries of the human heart, Monica Ali has written a captivating social comedy and a profoundly moving, revelatory story of two cultures, two families, and two people trying to understand one another.
What’s clear before reading a single page is that Monica Ali is skilled in articulating the complicated life experience of young women straddling the expectations of family heritage and personal future. The first line of the book reads: “In the Ghorami household sex was never mentioned.” This is a perfect opener because the story really leans into all the things that aren’t talked about in family and in all types of relationships. This book is a tribute to all the stories we keep to ourselves out of shame or lack of understanding, fear of rejection or confusion. It’s a testament to the way that love makes it okay to be who we are, to speak to our truths, and to let ourselves be free to be who we really are – whether we already know who that is or not.
There are a lot of stories going on here. A LOT. Ali’s delicate and articulate touch make it easy for the reader to stay tuned, to differentiate one from another and to really get the most out of the lessons that each one provides.
Ali has this way of writing about dialogue that is really interesting, but takes adjustment. She will write about the fallout of the exchange before sharing the actual exchange. Several times, I wondered if I had fallen asleep or lost track of the page and missed a chapter before I started to anticipate that it was her roundabout way of introducing what had happened before to cause the current situation. It worked, and quite effectively, but I just didn’t always catch onto it right away.
This book is very good. I quite enjoyed it. It is rich family drama serving up all the things that any rich family drama should. It’s a great experience for any reader who seeks to understand. Those who seek to judge will thoroughly miss the point.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for the opportunity to get my hands on this in advance of publishing day today. And I’m grateful to Netgalley who made it possible for them to do so. This book is out now so get out there and get your hands on a copy.
P.S. There is one particular love-ish story that I absolutely loved. But, I won’t tell you which one until you read the book and message me your guess. ❤️