– Love Marriage
[ About the Book ]
Yasmin Ghorami has a lot to be grateful for: a loving family, a fledgling career in medicine, and a charming, handsome fiancée, fellow doctor Joe Sangster.
But as the wedding day draws closer and Yasmin’s parents get to know Joe’s firebrand feminist mother, both families must confront the unravelling of long-held secrets, lies and betrayals.
While Yasmin dismantles her own assumptions about the people she holds most dear, she’s also forced to ask herself what she really wants in a relationship and what a ‘love marriage’ actually means.
Love Marriage is a story about who we are and how we love in today’s Britain – with all the complications and contradictions of life, desire, marriage and family. What starts as a captivating social comedy develops into a heart-breaking and gripping story of two cultures, two families and two people trying to understand one another.
[ My Review ]
Love Marriage by Monica Ali was published by Virago in February 2022 and quickly became ‘the new instant Sunday Times bestseller from the Booker Prize Shortlisted author of Brick Lane’. A very compelling read, at approximately 500 pages, Love Marriage is a very absorbing tale.
Set in London Love Marriage explores the family dynamics of two different cultures when brought together by an impending marriage. Yasmin Ghorami is a 26-year-old trainee doctor whose parents are originally from India. She is engaged to fellow doctor Joe Sangster, who is the son of a renowned feminist writer, Harriet. Yasmin lives at home with her GP father, Shaokat and her mother, Anisah who runs a very crazed and eccentric household. Her brother, Arif, also lives at home, currently unemployed with a below-par degree and a dream to be a documentary maker. Arif is a constant disappointment to his father, a man with great expectations for both of his children. Born into poverty and an orphan, Shaokat was determined from a very young age to have a better future for himself, eventually getting an education against all the odds and achieving his medical exams through fortuitousness and hard work.
Joe, an only child, reared by a very outspoken mother, had a very volatile childhood. His father had left them at a young age and it was left to Joe to be a listening ear and a comfort to his mother. Harriet, a determined feminist all her life, is recognised for her candid views of women’s bodies and their sexuality, exposing Joe to a unique perspective through his boyhood years. Still living with his mother, he is used to her quirky ways and is unaware of the influence she has had over him in his life to date.
Now Harriet has extended an invitation for Yasmin and her parents to come to dinner at their home in Primrose Hill. Yasmin knows her parents are different, she knows their belief system diverges from many of Harriet’s thoughts and ideas. Yasmin is nervous. Anisah has cooked enough food for a small army insistent that they do not, and will not, arrive to Primrose Hill empty handed. As tensions mount, Yasmin nerves do too.
Shaokat lives his life in a very black and white fashion. He is exemplary at his job as a London GP but he lives a very practical lifestyle with nothing going to waste. He is routine in much of what he does, driving an old car, dressing the same every day and solving medical problems with Yasmin. Her career path into medicine was very much influenced by her father and his dreams for her. From a young age the assumption was that she would always follow her father into medicine. But the ground is beginning to shift and Yasmin is starting to ask questions of herself and the path she has chosen.
The dinner proves to be an unexpected evening with Harriet delighting in Anisah in every way. She is open to opinions and is fascinated by Anisah and how she lives her life. Wedding plans are discussed and the two mothers start to make recommendations, advising Yasmin and Joe what to do. All done with the best of intentions yet Yasmin is flustered and frustrated, feeling that she is losing control.
In the days that follow events take an extraordinary turn, exposing them all to unanticipated questions about their pasts and the secrets that lie hidden there. The main players must all look deeper into themselves and come to terms with the impact of past actions but to do this properly there will be consequences. How far are they willing to go?
Monica Ali has written a beautiful and really thought-provoking novel about identity and love and what it means to us. Complex lives, familial relationships, past trauma and buried secrets all intertwine in this authentic and character-driven tale. Each individual is wonderfully fleshed out bringing them into our minds in technicolour as their lives unravel before us. Strong descriptions and vivid colours make for a very striking reading experience.
Using short and snappy chapters, Love Marriage is a brilliantly plotted story, leaving the reader in no doubt of Monica Ali’s writing expertise. Compassionate, vibrant and stunning in its presentation, Love Marriage is a warm-hearted story that I found highly engaging, entertaining and very astute.
[ Bio ]
Monica Ali is a bestselling writer whose work has been translated into 26 languages. She is the author of five books: Brick Lane, Alentejo Blue, In the Kitchen, Untold Story and Love Marriage. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, in 2003 she was named as one of Granta‘s Best of Young British Novelists. She has been nominated for, amongst others, the Booker Prize, the George Orwell Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and in the U.S. has been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She lives in London.