Ayesha at Last

Ayesha at Last

A Novel

Book - 2019
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Soon to be a major motion picture by Warner Brothers Entertainment and Pascal Pictures

Pride and Prejudice with a modern twist--a feel-good, laugh-out-loud comedy of love where you least expect it

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.

Publisher: Toronto, Ontario : HarperPerennial, 2019.
Copyright Date: ©2018.
ISBN: 9781443455862
Characteristics: 339 pages ;,21 cm.


From the critics

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Aug 24, 2020

Khalid has always accepted that his mother would be finding a bride for him, but when a beautiful young woman catches his eye he suddenly develops less interest in that particular cultural practice. Ayesha, a teacher, has volunteered to help plan a conference her local mosque is organizing for Muslim youth, and when her flighty cousin Hafsa is a no-show at the first meeting, everyone assumes she is Hafsa. Khalid, also on the planning committee, is delighted to be working with his secret crush, "Hafsa," and he is unsurprisingly delighted when, a few weeks later, he learns that his mother has arranged marriage between them. Except that "Hafsa" is actually Ayesha, and Khalid is now engaged to her cousin.

I selected this title for the category 'a retelling of a classic' in this year's Read Harder challenge, as it is a Muslim reimagining of Pride and Prejudice, and it was quite fun. Though somewhat unbelievable that Ayesha would let such confusion about her identity continue for so long, apparently it was the trope that was needed here. A good summer/vacation selection.

Aug 17, 2020

August 2020

ArapahoePaige Jul 20, 2020

Ayesha's obligations clash with her personal aspirations in a funny, poignant and ridiculous story. An independent woman and Muslim, Ayesha meets Khalid, a devout, traditional Muslim. Her friends’ and family’s antics highlight their differences. There's got to be a middle ground.

CCPL_Laura Jan 15, 2020

There’s a new Lizzie and Darcy in the house, and their names are Ayesha and Khalid! Jalaluddin brings an amazing Muslim Pride & Prejudice retelling for the modern age, incorporating all the classic antics (a flighty younger relative, an image-obsessed matron, a sensible but judgmental heroine, a quiet and misunderstood hero, and the ever-present letters) and spinning them on its head. The discussions of what it means to be Muslim in the 21st century was powerful and eye-opening, and the characters grow and develop in beautiful ways. Fans of Austen’s classic and readers of Sophie Kinsella, Sonali Dev, and Balli Kaur Jaswal alike will devour this book!

JCLJessG Dec 31, 2019

Sure, it's a P&P retelling, and that might be what makes you pick it up in the first place, but it is also its OWN story, which is much more remarkable. I actually really enjoyed Khalid's arc, especially how he tries to maintain his sense of self at work, and the HEA was well earned. I didn't want to put it down!

Oct 21, 2019

I am loving these modern re-tellings of Jane Austen novels set in diverse communities! This one takes place in a tight-knit Muslim community in Toronto. It's an homage to Pride & Prejudice but has sprinklings of other Austen works like Persuasion as well. There is also a grandfather (Nana) who loves Shakespeare so we get that literary influence too.

I adored this book. The characters were charming, the story compelling, the world unique and interesting. I flew through the last half of the book. There is a lot to this story about breaking out of your family's and/or society's expectations for you, finding your own path, knowing your own heart. There is love here, both familial and romantic. There is encouragement to keep an open mind, to learn of cultures outside your own. There is warning not to judge others or yourself. There is just so much YES in this story! I was rooting for everyone!

If you are a Jane Austen fan, I highly, highly recommend this book.

If Jane Austen is not your thing, but you are a fan of really fantastic literature, I also highly, highly recommend this book!

Sep 29, 2019

Its a cute, a nice PG romance in a world of billionaire sadist and brooding, borderline abusive bad boys. I think some of my issues are with the underdeveloped side characters and weak villains that are kind of on the cartoonish side. A little heavy handed on the Pride and Prejudice references. But a solid cute romance.

OPL_ErinD Sep 08, 2019

This sweet and chaste romance, a modern-day retelling of Pride & Prejudice set among a Muslim community in Toronto, will warm your heart.

STPL_JessH Sep 05, 2019

This is a Staff Favourite here at STPL! A number of us read it and loved it. I really appreciated such a fresh updated take on Pride and Prejudice. Jalaluddin leans into some difficult conversations and still provides a fun and flirty novel. I highly recommend this one!

ArapahoeKati Aug 02, 2019

So close to a 4-star read but some of the character development was lost in the last 1/3 of the book. However, it was a fun, if loose, retelling of Pride and Prejudice, especially with the Muslim characters and its Toronto setting.

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SPL_Melanie Nov 06, 2018

At this dreary season in the year, brighten up a rainy day with some fresh, sparkling perspectives on romance! All three of these contemporary novels explore what happens when a young, busy working woman finally meets someone special – although in each story, the potential of The Man is certainly not clear at first glance.

In The Proposal, Nikole meets Carlos after she turns down a very public proposal from her short term boyfriend, and they begin a sexy flirtation – but is that all it is? This novel has snappy dialogue, wit, and is quite high on the spicy scale. It’s the second novel by Guillory (her first is The Wedding Date) and in both books, the main character is a determined and successful woman who enjoys her relationships.

A Princess in Theory introduces a new series by Alyssa Cole, Reluctant Royals (book two, A Duke By Default is also in the library now). Naledi, an American grad student, gets a series of spam emails claiming she is the true soulmate of Prince Thabiso of the African country of Thesolo – deleted, of course. Shortly after, she meets and immediately clicks with her new neighbour Jamal. But is Jamal who he says he is? He doesn’t seem familiar with the basics of life, like cooking or taking the subway… This is a clever story featuring a heroine who is a successful, smart scientist. It sets up the next book in the series well, and provides lots of laughs, suspense, and a slightly elevated spicy rating.

Ayesha At Last is inspired by Pride & Prejudice and is set in Scarborough amongst the Muslim community. Its spicy rating is quite low, and the romantic tangle comes more from community expectations and the main characters’ mistaken assumptions about one another. Ayesha meets Khalid at their mosque when she is volunteered once again to take her flighty cousin Hafsa’s place on a committee, and thus is mistaken for Hafsa. But it’s this very cousin who Khalid’s mother is trying to set him up with, leading to confusion all around. Drama, a large cast, and a seasoning of humour result in an entertaining Canadian read.

If you are in the mood to warm up with a good romance, any of these might do. Or ask us for more suggestions, any time!

(as published in the Stratford Beacon Herald Nov 9 2018)

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