“Ayesha at Last” by Uzma Jalaluddin

Thanks to Atlantic Books and Netgalley for the Advance Review Copy.

This novel is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in a Muslim Community in Toronto. Although Pride and Prejudice is clearly the main influence, I also saw elements of Emma and Sense and Sensibility too which was fun. The story follows Ayesha and Khalid as stand ins for Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy. Both Ayesha and Khalid’s viewpoints are followed which made things a bit more interesting than just reading from one character’s perspective.

It’s a really sweet story and there are enough differences from Pride and Prejudice to keep it feeling fresh. The cultural elements like food, religion and clothing woven into the story really help to help the reader envisage their world. Both the main characters are likeable and the supporting characters are varied and three dimensional and don’t fit into the older generation vs younger generation character dynamics that are often a feature of similar stories.

The antagonists are a little over the top and hammy, particularly Khalid’s boss. It was a stretch to imagine a supposedly intelligent career woman behaving in this way. It was a bit too pantomime villain for me. The ending was also a tad cheesy but overall a very enjoyable read that met my expectations and achieved what it set out to do.

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