Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler » No « Hide Spoiler
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Rowena's 2019 New to Me Challenge
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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.
I picked this book up for review because I’ve heard so many good things about it around blog-land. Lots of bloggers loved this one so I knew that I would be reading it. I’m so happy to report that I agree with all of the other reviews out there. This was a charming P&P retelling even though it’s not a clear P&P retelling until you get almost to the end. Still, I was charmed from beginning to end and am definitely interested in reading more from Jalaluddin. She’s got a nice writing style that kept me involved in what was going on in the story and I appreciated her efforts.
Ayesha and Khalil were great. Their romance developed slowly with them getting to know each other but there was so much else going on in this book that I thought Jalaluddin did a great job of bringing everything together. I really liked that Jalaluddin didn’t waste words on stuff that didn’t matter. Everything and everyone had a purpose and the way that Ayesha and Khalil came together was pretty great. They were really put through the wringer but that made their coming together in the end so much more impactful. I mean, there were times when I was a little frustrated with both of them but for the most part, I was rooting for them to get their shit together and come together already.
They were also a great Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett pairing. I had a lot of the same frustrations with Ayesha’s character as I had with Elizabeth’s character in P&P. I saw a lot of Darcy in Khalil and seriously, the same issues I had with P&P were issues that I had here. There were times in P&P where I thought Elizabeth wasn’t remorseful enough when she was in the wrong where Darcy was concerned and I experienced that same thing here with Ayesha. Sure, I loved her as a character in the end but there were times when I wanted to wring her neck because I felt that Khalil was a lot more remorseful and showed a lot more growth than she did. Still, Uzma Jalaluddin did a great job of turning things around for the two of these guys and honestly, she brought out a lot of feels in me so I know that I’ll be thinking about this book for a while still.
This was a good one so I definitely recommend it for those of you guys looking for a diverse P&P retelling with a charming cast and a refreshing writing style that I ate right up with each page turned. Good stuff.
4 out of 5
I am thrilled that you liked it, Rowena! I adored this book as much as I adored P&P! I can definitely understand your reasons for the minor frustrations. I hope we see more of Uzma’s words soon!