13.7.18

review and cover mani: ayesha at last

AYESHA AT LAST was an absolute delight. Tight storylines with delicious layers of complications gave a solid nod Pride and Prejudice, but the fresh Muslim take and Canadian setting created a fun and touching story that stands on its own. I got attached to the main characters pretty quickly and then held on for the emotional rollercoaster. Because for real, there were a ton of moving parts.  




The back jacket, from goodreads:

Pride and Prejudice with a modern twist 

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. 

When a surprise engagement between Khalid and Hafsa is announced, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and his family; and the truth she realizes about herself. But Khalid is also wrestling with what he believes and what he wants. And he just can’t get this beautiful, outspoken woman out of his mind. 

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As AYESHA AT LAST is a retelling-ish tale, I was aware of the general progression of events, but then something awesome happened: I totally forgot them. Confused? Me too! Haha! It was remarkable, really, because every so often, there’d be a heavy reference that reminded me of the connection to Pride and Prejudice and I’d think: Oh riiiiiight. Bennet and Darcy. Those two.

Because these characters felt like real people I could to run into on the street. So quirky and honest and endearing that before long, they became friends. Each cast member, from Ayesha to Khalid and everyone in between, were well-rounded, authentic characters who never felt like they existed solely to tell Ayesha and Khalid’s stories. And isn’t that the best? 


All cover images: Shutterstock

Ayesha’s struggle to remain supportive of her extended family while trying to have a fulfilling life of her own was totally relatable. Doubling-down on the pressure, Ayesha also fell into a sort of grey area, being judged by non-Muslims for wearing hijab, and judged by Muslims for being too progressive, which must be a reality for many Muslims who’ve grown up in Canada. Ayesha loved to write poetry and longed to travel but needed a more stable career choice in order to pay off her debts. That is, until she found a husband and would thusly be expected to drop everything and become a wife and mother. That element was direct a tie to P&P: women could hold certain approved positions, teacher included, but striving to be a wife was the ultimate and inevitable path. Considered a near spinster in her later twenties, Ayesha seemed to have accepted her place as outside the norm and naturally, that made me love her even more because she wasn’t willing to compromise. 

Then there was Khalid. Grounded in religion, Khalid’s personality worked as the total opposite to Ayesha’s. A man of rigid faith, his stern nature immediately repelled Ayesha, despite Ayesha’s appreciation of his physical appearance. Mr. Darcy was never more religious than most, his uppity demeanour stemming from privilege and wealth, which made Khalid all the more interesting. His somewhat stifled life, one where he did was he was told and held himself to the highest of standards, immediately had me sympathizing with him. Between Ayesha and Khalid, the latter’s journey proved more captivating, more significant. Because while Ayesha had people in her corner who encouraged her to express herself and be true to her dreams, Khalid had no such support. His obedience was a given, which made his choice to take another path all the more powerful.  




And can we please talk about how AYESHA AT LAST was set in Toronto? And how the writing was smooth as silk, rhythmic and immersive? Or to circle back to my intro, how the vast number of interconnected storylines joined forces to form an epic saga of love and family? Where every single character had their own highs and lows, goals and drives? I would like to chat about all of these things because there’s so much awesome crammed into this novel that I can hardly stand it! So if you’re in the mood for a touching, fun, and ultimately uplifting, diverse romantic comedy about two people who have to find themselves before they can find each other, AYESHA AT LAST is the book for you! Five stars, plus one bazillion stars, for a total of one bazillion and five stars. 

As a special bonus treat, the awesome folks at HarperCollins Canada have offered a copy for me to give away! Check out my Instagram account to enter! Giveaway closes on July 20. 


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For this mani, I used:

ORLY – Skinny Dip

FingerPaints - Black Expressionism and Paper Mache

China Glaze – Werk It Honey and Water-Falling in Love

OPI – A Good Man-Darin is Hard to Find and matte topcoat

Glisten and Glow – topcoat

So Nailicious – needle brush

Small dotting tool