Book: Ayesha at Last
Author: Uzma Jalaluddin
Genre: Contemporary (Retelling of Pride and Prejudice)
Release Date: 4th June 2019
Purchase Link: Wordery
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.
Read to the ending for a mini glossary of any terms you may not understand! 🙂
First off, Khalid is absolutely amazing. I loved him. He was perfect and I need more of his awkwardness. I loved reading from his perspective, and knowing what he was thinking but what he ended up saying…. well, I’m in love. He’s so adorable!
Now for the actual review.. I’m going to be honest and put it out there. I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice so I can’t speak for how this retelling is accurate or how good the characters stay true to themselves etc. But I loved everything about this book. I definitely recommend it to everyone, not only because the storyline is great but because it’s a great depiction of how culture is so different from religion and it’s annoying how so many people misunderstand or don’t know that.
I hated Sheila with a passion I didn’t realise I was capable of. She’s introduced early in the story and I don’t think she got what she deserved at the end. She deserved something a lot worse. But at the same time, I love how Khalid and team (Clara and Amir) handled it because it’s so close and true to what Islam teaches. All he asked for was his right and he didn’t actually humiliate or throw Sheila under the bus, because kindness (even to someone who hates you) is something that is a part of the sunnah (actions/teachings of the Prophet (pbuh)).
I also adore how Uzma talked about something that culture often ignores. Khadija (RA) – the first wife of the Prophet (pbuh) – was a successful businesswoman. And she was the one to propose to the Prophet (pbuh). She was his most steadfast ally and by his side. I adored that. And what Clara did towards the end with Khalid, Rob and Ayesha … You go, girl!
I adored Ayesha’s family. Her nani was amazing, her nana was absolutely epic and the kitchen scene makes me swoon everytime! The relationships were so well developed, you could see how and what the characters thought without reading from their perspective. There were so many different depictions of the characters and I loved it. I need more of Khalid and Ayesha, and I definitely need more of Zareena!
Oh and another thing. The notebooks. Oh, the notebooks! *swoon* A certain introvert didn’t protest something and made me scream mentally when I first found out about the notebooks.
Overall, this book was an amazing diverse book on how damaging and toxic culture actually is, the many many ways Islam is misunderstood and the amazing and complex relationships between people. Not to mention a few toxic relationships that you definitely could do without. I definitely recommend reading it!
And here’s the mini glossary as promised:
Nani – Mother’s mother
Nana – Mother’s father
pbuh – Peace be upon Him
RA – RadiAllahu Anha (May Allah be pleased with Her)