As you can probably tell from my blog content, I will read anything that has to do with Pride and Prejudice or Jane Austen. A N Y T H I N G. And when I saw a Pride and Prejudice with Muslim characters was coming out, I shouted and flailed. The more people who can see themselves in this story, the better! Everyone wants a happily ever after after shouting at a rich dude, right? Exactly. Ayesha At Last did not disappoint. Ayesha and Khalid are wonderfully written characters. They banter, they fight, they learn, and they love. I smiled so much while reading this. Let’s get to the review!
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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.
The book switches between Ayesha and Khalid’s POV. So unlike the original, we get to know both of their thoughts and feelings which I LOVE!.
Ayesha has a lot to deal with. Her young cousin Hafsa is like Lydia Bennet, but in the modern age and Ayesha has her hands full ensuring she is happy and not getting into too much trouble. She also has to deal with her own immediate family including her distant mother, not to mention everyone in the neighborhood wondering if she’ll ever get married.
Oh and did I mention she is also a new teacher?! She has to deal with students that are…less than lovely. Like I said, Ayesha has a lot going on.
But so does Khalid. He is constantly worried about his sister who was sent overseas to be married to a stranger because of her “misbehavior”. He has to deal with his mother who wants to control his whole life including who he marries.
Additionally, he works as an e-commerce project manager and tries to make his incredibly Islamophobic boss happy so she won’t fire him (not an easy task). He also has just met a strong young woman who fights with him and who he may or may not have feelings for. Her name is…AYESHA.
Ayesha and Khalid do not get off to a great start. This is Pride and Prejudice after all. It must start with a misunderstanding. Khalid says something insulting about Ayesha, she hears it, and vows to dislike him forever (ok that’s not exactly it but you get my point). But through planning an event at their masque and a few meetings planned by their mutual friend, Clara, they begin to enjoy each other’s company.
Unfortunately, the people in their lives have other plans. Khalid’s mother picks someone for him to marry who is not Ayesha and Hafsa gets herself into something none of them could have imagined.
I absolutely loved this book. It has just enough of Pride and Prejudice that die-hard fans will recognize the call-backs, but also is definitely it’s own story. You don’t need to have read Austen to enjoy this. It’s fun and romantic and the characters could honestly not be better developed. Ayesha and Khalid come to accept each other for who they are, but also find out things about themselves along the way. I am giving Ayesha at Last 4 out of 5 stars. I love Pride and Prejudice and I’m so happy there are diverse re-tellings coming out for those who never saw themselves in the original. Please pick up this book. You will not be disappointed.
Ayesha at Last comes out June 4, 2019
Thank you to First to Read and Berkley Books for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review!