Love Marriage by Monica Ali

At the heart of Monica Ali’s latest novel is, as the title suggests, the universal story of love and marriage. Those who have read Ali’s 2003 Booker-shortlisted novel Brick Lane will recognise her themes of displacement, family dynamics and the challenges faced by women globally, as well as Ali’s style of weaving these complexities into a seemingly ordinary story. Ali revisits these themes and more in Love Marriage, which follows one woman’s journey of love. In this novel, Ali packs in many wide-ranging contemporary issues such as racism, workplace inequalities, family challenges and addiction. Recent discussions in the media have pointed out how fiction often ignores the small details of women’s lives such as having their periods but Ali does not shy away from this subject.

The focus is on Yasmin Ghorami, a young doctor living in London, as she negotiates life with her fiancé Joe (theirs will be a ‘love marriage’), his family, her own family, and the challenges they all face. The novel alternates between the points-of-view of the two families, and, as we draw closer to the couple’s wedding, we discover Joe is confronting his own demons and his complex relationship with his mother.

Ali started this novel as separate stories about two families and decided to blend them into one book. It’s a reflection of family life and cultural expectations in contemporary Britain and how to keep relationships afloat within those expectations. The portrayal of Yasmin’s parents’ ability to accept change is particularly poignant.

Although Ali touches on many issues in this book, each is dealt with in a meaningful and respectful way. It’s a novel about the journey from love to marriage but at its core, it’s about acceptance – of both oneself and others. There is plenty to engage with in this very readable novel and it’s particularly appealing to be drawn into a world set before the pandemic. Give in to that fun cover design and pick up this perfect sit-down-and-devour-in-one-weekend book.

Nicki Levy is a bookseller at Readings Carlton.

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Love Marriage

Love Marriage

Monica Ali

$32.99Buy now

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