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Love Marriage by Monica Ali - Review

Saturday, July 15, 2023

This book was the July book club choice, chosen by Caroline, who generally chooses books that I really like. She warned us at the June meeting that this book was a bit weird to get into, but to bear with it. So I was prepared to do that! But I started this and quickly read 20% of it (I was reading on Kindle) so I'm not sure why Caroline found it hard - but I'll be interested to hear her and other opinions in the middle of July!

So the main character is Yasmin. She is a junior doctor, completing her training, and is working on a geriatric ward. She is engaged to Joe, and right at the beginning of the book, their parents are going to meet for the first time. The two families are going to talk about the wedding, but Yasmin and Joe want it to be quite small. 

Yasmin is the only daughter and eldest child of Indian Muslim parents. Her dad is also a doctor. Her mum doesn't work. She is very busy cooking a ton of stuff to take over to meet Joe's mum with. Yasmin has a brother, Arif, who their dad sees as a total waste of space. He hasn't managed to get a job since leaving university, but wants to make a documentary. He also has a secret girlfriend, Lucy. Yasmin has met her but only briefly. There is often a lot of tension in the family between Arif and his dad; the two women often just smooth things over. Yasmin really only became a doctor because her dad is.

Joe, meanwhile, grew up in a rich family with his single mother, Harriet. She is a renowned writer and activist, and once posed for a nude photo that all of Joe's school friends saw. He is close to her - in fact her boundaries with him barely seem to exist at all, she's always kissing him and she walks in on him in bed and in the shower. She's quite an overbearing person. There are the odd chapters from her point of view, in which she is trying to write her memoir and doesn't seem very comfortable with herself. 

She insists to Yasmin and Joe that they should have a Muslim wedding. Anisah readily agrees and everything spirals out of Yasmin's control. Then she's told by someone at work that Joe has slept with someone else... 

There are also chapters from Joe's point of view, which do feel a little bit odd, but they do add something to the plot because the reader is aware of something that Yasmin and all the other characters aren't. I can't say I enjoyed these chapters though. 

This book did not play out the way I thought it would, but I did really enjoy it. I was hoping several things would happen, and they mostly did. I liked Yasmin, but can't say that I liked any of the other characters. I am giving this four out of five. 

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