Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Ayesha at Last

Rate this book
A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.

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 who dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.

When a surprise engagement is announced between Khalid and Hafsa, 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.

368 pages, Paperback

First published June 12, 2018

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Uzma Jalaluddin

5 books1,646 followers
I write funny, nuanced stories about Muslims, South Asians, Canadians, people. MUCH ADO ABOUT NADA (June 2023), THREE HOLIDAYS AND A WEDDING (Sept 2023), HANA KHAN CARRIES ON (2021) and AYESHA AT LAST (2019). Find out more at www.uzmajalaluddin.com and thanks for visiting!

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
5,475 (23%)
4 stars
10,633 (46%)
3 stars
5,484 (24%)
2 stars
1,000 (4%)
1 star
222 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,243 reviews
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews154k followers
December 9, 2020
I have read my way through 315 books to bring you my Top 10 Books of the Year (video) .

Now you know that this one made the cut, check out my video review to see the others!

"You're very honest."
"I have been told it's one of my worst qualities."
Ayesha is in her late twenties, unmarried and works for a living ( *cue the muted gasps of horror* ).

As a modern Muslim, she walks through life with her head held high. Her best friend has a live-in boyfriend, she teaches at a coed school and...she's lonely. Very lonely.

Her younger cousin, Hafsa, seems to have one arranged marriage proposal after another.

Ayesha swore to herself that she would never go that route...and yet...she finds herself...not quite jealous, but wistful.

Khalid recently moved with his mother to Ayesha's neighborhood. He sees Ayesha every morning flying out of her house with a coffee in hand wearing a vibrant hijab.

Khalid is nothing if not devout (thanks to the heavy hand of his mother).

He finds comfort in the rigors of prayer, in wearing traditional clothing and even though some practices are a bit...odd... in the modern world (ie. being forbidden to touch or look at women), Khalid respects and honors the old ways.

And yet... he cannot seem to help himself when it comes to her. When Khalid sneaks a peek at Ayesha in her outlandishly purple hijab on those early mornings he feels...wistful.

Khalid tries to brush these feelings away.

He has a comfortable job, a few friends and a mother to run everything for him. He's happy... or so he thought.
"I will find you the perfect wife - modest, not too educated."
Love often comes after marriage and his mother knows him better than anyone, so surely she'd know what's best for him.... or so he thought.
"It is so difficult to find a truly well-trained girl these days. So many modern ideas about education and careers. When I was growing up, a girl knew her role."
Despite his mother's best efforts, the two of them meet and suddenly... they don't feel quite so lost anymore.

However, while Ayesha may be devout, Kahlid is traditional.

And they clash.

Oh do they clash.
"You have a job?" Khalid asked, surprised.
"I also dress myself, bathe myself, drive a car and have opinions about things," Ayesha said.
Despite Ayesha's immediate dismissal and Kahlid's immediate disregard there is something....something that almost inexplicably draws them together.
When he looked at her, he was not sure what he saw.
But he was starting to feel something.
And that special something weaves together their stories like no other.

With the marriage proposals coming in left and right, an identity theft leading to unimaginable consequences and (above all) Khalid's mother's meddling - how will the two them even survive?
Marriage is too important to leave to chance.
This is one for the ages.

I am an absolute sucker for Pride & Prejudice remakes and this Muslim-Canadian version is absolutely divine.

This was honestly my first stayed-up-to-midnight-cause-I-gotta-find-out-the-end book of the year.

Ayesha's personality was perfect as an Elizabeth - strong, spunky and sassy.

Ayesha was wonderfully outspoken and yet true to her faith. I loved that.

So many heroines seem to abandon their family and traditions in favor of adventure. To me, it often feels like a way to streamline the writing.

I adored that the author took the time and effort to create such a tight knit family and had the close relatives always weaving in and out of the story.

Khalid was truly an inspiring character. The way he came to life within just a few short pages really set the tone for the novel.
Are they afraid of me? Khalid wondered. When Shelia looks at me, what does she see?
I truly felt his struggle to remain true to his faith and yet adjust to a world that holds it in such little regard.

I feel like the media portrayal of devout Muslims is so far skewed that it is an absolute rarity to see anything without the word "terrorist" attached to it on the news.

It's horrible that without positive representation, painful assumptions are made and inaccuracies are propagated as truth.

As for the plot - it remains true to the original and yet is entirely unique.

The intricacies and petty dramas between Ayesha's family and Khalid's was so incredibly fun to read. I devoured every shocking reveal.

And the humor! Oh I would be doing the book a huge disservice if I did not mention the humor. It was absolutely perfect.

It had so many witty and dry one-liners scattered in that - such as Khalid's first arranged-marriage meeting.
"Did you talk to her or stare at the floor?" she asked lightly.
"It wasn't just me. Everyone was staring at the floor. They had a really nice carpet."
All in all - this book was brilliant.

Perfect and everything that is right with the liteary world. I cannot wait for it to be published so I have an excuse to read it over and over.
"I don't think this is the end of of the story for you
With thanks to Berkley Publishing for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

All quotes come from an unedited proof and are subject to change upon publication.

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Ayman.
191 reviews71.1k followers
April 19, 2022
this was cute and adorable. i very much enjoyed and appreciated the accurate muslims representation. this is a modern day pride and prejudice retelling but make it muslim.

ayesha is a baddie. i loved her for how opinionated and outspoken she was. she doesn’t take anyones shit and i admire that. khalid, the one interest was kinda hard to grow on and i didn’t really care much for him. his character growth was much appreciated though.

the side characters and family is what really holds this story together and what kept me entertained. it was an accurate representation of a desi family household. the story felt kinda boring up until the last 45% but the ending was very cute and wholesome. i definitely recommend 😊
Profile Image for Liz.
1,966 reviews2,416 followers
May 10, 2019
The editors don’t do this book any favors comparing it to Pride and Prejudice. Other than a similar quote at the beginning and two headstrong characters, there aren’t many similarities until you get to the end. The comparison was actually a distraction, as I kept looking for similarities that weren’t there. If anything, this reminds me more of a Shakespearean comedy with its mistaken identities.

I’m not usually a fan of women’s literature, but I found this book engaged both by head and my heart. I cared for both of the main characters and enjoyed the way the story plays out.

This story is told in third person narrative and swings from Ayesha’s life to Khalid’s.

Jalaluddin does a great job of painting the scene, giving us the rich details to see the rooms, the food, the clothing.

I also appreciated the way she shows us both the casual and direct prejudice that Khalid encounters as a conservative Muslim and his being forced to choose between assimilation and his religious beliefs. Flip side, he initially looks down his nose at Ayesha, who has a more modern viewpoint.

This is a fairly standard romance novel, but it’s done well. It’s a fun, mostly light story. Think more along the lines of Crazy Rich Asians than P&P.

My thanks to netgalley and Berkley Books for an advance copy of this book.
Profile Image for ♛ may.
805 reviews3,775 followers
March 28, 2019
i meant to write this a very long time ago and then i forgot oops hehe


this book honestly had great potential. judging by the synopsis alone, it basically sounded like the greatest book that would ever grace my life.

when i picked it up, i became instantly invested in the story but somewhere along the way, between the teeny tiny font and the excessively long sentences, my emotional attachment slowly withered away to nothing

muslim rep/stereotypes
- i thought this had a strong start, it showed muslims in their daily life, where the majority of their problems revolved around ridiculous family politics (!!finally!!) and not so much about their race or their colour of skin (which was included too, but to a very BELIEVABLE amount)
- i liked how khalid's character was standing up for himself and his beliefs from the very start (that was so :') to see)
- i loved the close knit family ties and the many different family dynamics we got to see
- i liked how the mosque was given page time and it was shown how the community came together for events and programs
- but here's where my cons come in
- going back to khalid and his way of dressing, a couple characters kept saying how HE was so judgemental and yet they were CONSTANTLY judging his style of dress (his ankle-length robe) and the fact that he grew his beard??? like hypocrisy much
- and his whole development was the fact that he changed both those things to appease the people in his life and i was just baffled why THAT part of him had to be erased. what happened to self-acceptance??
- khalid's mother started off being the stereotypical, involved indian mother and quickly morphed into this ~witch~ of a character that was out to ruin ayesha's life
- she played into a lot of stereotypes (the evil, controlling, possessive mother) and opened manyyyy cans of worms that i never felt were properly addressed (literally, her and her daughter's relationship)

the romance
- in my opinion, as a 'halal' romance, i think it was done quite well
- the scene where they were making roti with the grandmother hfkjdahfkjah
- there were scenes where they were with each other and you got to see the internal dilemma they were battling out due to the situation (the name switch) they got themselves into
- and i just WISH it stopped there because that was HONESTLY enough for a lighthearted romance novel
- but no, we had to get trash-man tarek involved
- did tarek's character even need to exist? the only answer is no

trying to do too much
- the biggest flaw i found with this book was that it was trying to do EVERYTHING in the world and then some. it tackled racism in the workplace, halal (and,,,,not so halal) relationships, arranged marriages, family disownment, alcoholism, theft, faking identity, self-righteousness & sleazy dudes, daddy issues, masjid politics etc. etc.
- and i just felt it didnt need to do all that
- if it stuck to telling a romance story, between two people who would never guess themselves to be compatible, then i would have been concise and enjoyable and not this disaster that ended up happening
- and for a book that really went long and hard on explanations and internal dialogue, the ending wrapped up much too quickly to be even remotely realistic

the writing
- it's very much 'day-in-the-life' sort of writing and while i appreciated that most of the time, the book felt HUGE
- it felt drawn out and exaggerated and i really really thought it had so much potential to be something amazing but a lot was lost within the excessive descriptions and the unrealistic drama
- listen, jane austen knew what she was doing when she wrote pride & prejudice and i think that if the author stayed closer to that narrative, the story would have been so much more enjoyable
- why cant we just have a cute muslim love story between brown kids without all the excess trash in between???????????????

idk where this fits in, but there were some character inaccuracies i noticed while reading (i cant remember more than this example :( but there were moments when khalid was talking like a 14th century philosopher and then the next minute hes speaking slang and i was just,,,,,bro are you okay?
- i know it's supposed to tie into his character, like the socially awkward guy who's trying to fit in, but still, that's a wild jump to make in one conversation

and yet, the book was funny. it made me laugh out loud. it had it's charming moments, it had it's cute moments.
but i wish khalid's character development wasn't him giving up who he was for the girl he liked. i wish ayesha would stop having these extreme opinions of everyone while telling them they were too judgemental. i wish tarek didn't exist. i wish the book focused on the romance instead of trying to do a million things. i wish a lot of things

~this review is a disaster and so am i, but what else is new??
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,134 reviews39.3k followers
March 12, 2022
Three point five, should I round it up or down ….Up, down , up down, funk you up, up for fantastically developed, amazingly-rounded, strong hero and heroine, sweet, enjoyable rom-com materials capture your heart by extending through pages, down for cliches, third person narration, up for in the name of Jane Austen love , but down for “ it is not close to any other Jane Austen” books, there are too many cheesy parts, oh come on decide, okay, rounded down to three stars.

First of all, I think advertising this book as Middle Eastern version of “Pride and Prejudice” is not the right definition. It reminded me of soft Shakespearean comedies like “Much Ado About Nothing”, “As You like it”.

Another book is also on my list advertised as Indian version of the book named “Pride and Prejudice and other flavors” but as we may understand from the name , this book was a real retelling. Its blurb was closer to the classic novel.

So before starting the book, we may know that Ayesha and Khalid’s story was so different from Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam( most people call him my his last name, Mr. Darcy, we blame it on Colin Firth for being memorable one and his performance was imprinted on my mind forever!)

I liked Ayesha, strong, sarcastic, smart ( in my opinion there was not much similarities with Elizabeth Bennet and her characterization), independent woman who doesn’t only try learning to exist but live , express and find herself.

Mostly I liked the chemistry and connection, dialogues between Ayesha and Khalid and that pushed me to round up my stars. But … yeap, there is a big BUT that stopped me to do that.

What I didn’t like about the book : The hatred Ayesha had to endure and fight against made me want to toss the book too many times from my hands.
Too many characters and unstopping drama parts are some elements of Middle Eastern culture but those parts didn’t fit this kind of romantic comedy. A little angst and edgy parts are spices of a good-developed novel but if you add over-exaggerated drama, you kill the romance and create a soap-opera kind of melodramatic novel.

And don’t forget the pace. I got lost so many times. Maybe I had some issues about writing style but I had so many hard times to concentrate and give my full attention to Ayesha and Khalid because too many characters got in their way.

Only Khalid’s parts about his family’s pressure and his ethical and religious norms giving him hard time to make a choice between his beliefs or being expelled from his society are the closest parts about the prejudice.

I honestly liked the effort and the book gave me too many food vibes but the things I didn’t like beat the parts I mostly like. Maybe if I didn’t think it was retelling of Pride and Prejudice before I started it and coded this one on my brain as an independent Muslim boy and girl’s sweet and dramatic love story, I would have a better and fairer perspective.

So much special thanks to Berkley Books and NetGalley for sending me ARC COPY of this book in exchange my honest review.

Profile Image for Meredith (Slowly Catching Up).
781 reviews12.2k followers
June 21, 2019
“Sometimes there were no words, only sunshine on your heart.”

Ayesha at Last is a romantic comedy about marriage, love, and family in the Muslim culture. The plot loosely mirrors Pride and Prejudice but also incorporates elements of Shakespeare and other literature.

The main characters, Ayesha and Khalid are not the typical characters who appear in commercial fiction. Ayesha is a strong, independent Muslim woman who is trying to find herself. Khalid too is trying to find himself. He uses his faith, strong-willed mother, and traditional Muslim clothing to hide from what he fears. His appearance provokes some to call him a fundamentalist. Ayesha and Khalid are what I loved most about this book and kept me turning the pages.

While I loved Ayesha and Khalid, I had some issues with the plot. At a certain point, the plot spins out of control as there is too much going on. Trying to cover too many storylines, too many characters, and too much drama detracted from Khalid and Ayesha’s characters. I also had some other issues concerning the plot, but I am not going to get into them because of potential spoilers.

Overall, in spite of some of the issues I had, this was an enjoyable read. I found Ayesha and Khalid’s characters to be refreshing and I was rooting for them. I also loved Nana and Nani. I give Jalaluddin props for pushing boundaries and presenting characters that go outside of the box.

I received an ARC of this book from Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for emma.
1,822 reviews45.8k followers
November 9, 2020
I’m not going to lie: If you had not told me this was a Pride & Prejudice retelling and instead I was operating under the dreamy assumption that this was an enemies-to-lovers literary fiction-y romance set in a largely Muslim neighborhood in Canada, this review might be a different story.

But only slightly. Three stars is still, by definition, a positive rating.

But this didn’t feel very Pride & Prejudice-y at all.

There was fun stuff in spite of that heartbreaking fact, like how I really like both our main characters (even though I, uh, didn’t love their romance), and the fact that this made me realize I really, really, reallyreallyreally need to read more books with Muslim representation.

But then there’s also The Villains Are So Flat (shoutout to Sheila and Tarek) and Character Arcs Don’t Exist So Our Lydia-Type Annoying Cousin Character Simply Does Two Spur-Of-The-Moment-180s And We Call It A Day.

Which I guess means that even the few parts that did line up with the Pride & Prejudice storyline didn’t #do it for me.

I am a bitter shell of a person.

Bottom line: In spite of this review’s moroseness, this book isn’t bad! Just not what I was told it would be.


give me pride and prejudice retellings or give me death

(thanks to the publisher for the arc) (sorry it's been a year and a half)
Profile Image for Talia Hibbert.
Author 33 books27.8k followers
January 20, 2020
Ayesha at Last ruined my life because how is any romance novel allowed to be THIS romantic? Like, I understand that it's a romance novel, but still. THIS romantic? Uncalled for. I'm not even a Pride & Prejudice fan, but Ayesha and Khalid indirectly made me love that book, along with their book. THAT'S HOW POWERFUL THIS IS.

Enemies to lovers done right. The sweet but stubborn hero of every romance reader's dreams. The greatest heroine of all time (poetry-writing, career-questioning, bonkers-grandpa-having, rebellious and loyal and bold and relatable icon, in case you were wondering). Basically, I want every word of it tattooed on my bones and no I don't think that's an overreaction, why do you ask?
Profile Image for Erin.
2,889 reviews487 followers
July 31, 2018
Because while it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single Muslim man must be in want of a wife, there's an even greater truth:To his Indian mother, his own inclinations are of secondary importance.
All the stars for this debut Canadian author! Ayesha at Last was without a doubt my most anticipated 2018 release. Come on, a modern P&P set in Toronto and featuring two Muslim characters. It was absolutely perfect and I was all too sorry when it was finished. The characters(main and secondary) , the plot, the comedy and the romance. I need this to be a movie-ASAP! I laughed, I cried, and I fell in love.
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,037 reviews3,556 followers
July 6, 2019

Well played. I was expecting my dose of romantic comedy. But I came away with an unexpected, profoundly deeper read!
Heavy tones of race, religion, sexual equality and even fat shaming laced throughout. Yes, this book has it all. And somewhere in the mix is a budding romance.
I must say, sadly the romance somehow gets lost in the story.

“Choose laughter over tears”

Ayesha is a young single Muslim woman living with her family in Canada. While she dreams of someday getting married, it appears Ayesha is too busy looking after everyone else, unable to focus on her own happiness.

Khalid is a young professional single man. Still living with his mother. He is extremely traditional in his beliefs as well as his dress. He too wishes is to be married, but is conflicted with what comes first...love or marriage?

My struggles with this book were that the banter just felt mean at times. There was so much ‘hate’ tossed around and directed at Ayesha I had a hard time reading this one. (Of course, it’s just a novel…but still!) I couldn’t find the love and beauty within this story-line.

On the positive side is the wonderfully warm and loving relationship between Ayesha and her grandfather Nana! I loved and cherished all his words of wisdom that he doled out to Ayesha in her quest to find herself.

A buddy read with Susanne that sparked some incredible discussions

Thank you to Elisha at Berkeley Publishing for an ARC to read and review.
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,089 reviews30.1k followers
May 28, 2019
Ayesha at Last is a modern-day retelling of Pride and Prejudice with a Muslim main character. I loved it! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Ayesha is a modern Muslim and dreams of being a poet, but she has to forgo those dreams at the moment to pay her uncle back. She’s become a teacher.

Ayesha lives with her Muslim family who constantly remind her of potential marriage and that one of her cousins is currently turning down yet another marriage proposal.

Ayesha meets Khalid, and she is struck by his charm instantly. But at the same time, she’s turned off by how conservative and judgmental he can be. His family is also the subject of gossip in the community.

Will Ayesha find love with the flawed Khalid? Will Khalid fall for a modern Muslim woman, one who tests the boundaries of his faith and that of his devout family? Ayesha is devout, too, but Khalid is practicing the Muslim faith entirely in the traditional sense…until he meets Ayesha.

I absolutely loved the culture embedded in Ayesha at Last. It was a learning experience that one can be Muslim and devout but also traditional versus non traditional. The back and forth between the two families was so much fun. The humor was precious and witty, and I loved how similar, but yet original, this felt by comparison to Pride and Prejudice.

Overall, this is a stunning and enlightening retelling, one that I will cherish my experience, and I’m so grateful this story was told. I hope we will see more retellings of this quality in the future from Jalaluddin. Sign me up!

I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,157 reviews36.5k followers
July 15, 2019
3.5 Stars* (rounded up)

Being yourself and following your heart is not always easy, nor is it allowed.

In the Muslim culture, arranged marriages are often the norm. Ayesha, however, has never done what her family expects of her. Older than the other girls in her community, Ayesha also has a job: she’s a substitute school teacher and is also a gifted poet. She is passionate and has no qualms about speaking her mind.

Hafsa is Ayesha’s younger cousin. Full of dreams and unable to standstill. Hafsa has turned down proposal after proposal and is determined to wait until receiving at least 100 until she says yes to the “one.”

Khalid is a conservative Muslim who wears a robe and a skullcap and is a firm believer in arranged marriages. He is sure that his mother will find the right woman for him, someday. Khalid’s conservative dress code has never been a problem for him, until Sheila, a new HR Manager is hired at his place of employment, which brings to light discrimination and prejudice in the workplace and made for quite the heavy read at times.

I loved Ayesha as she made me smile throughout. I also enjoyed the chemistry between Ayesha and Khalid but was disheartened by the negativity that surrounded the two of them as it brought me down and would truthfully have enjoyed this novel more had it not existed. That aside, the writing in “Ayesha at Last” is absolutely superb. If you enjoy “rom coms” with heart that also have a serious side to them, I recommend “Ayesha at Last.”

This was a buddy read with Ms. Kaceey. This “rom com” garnered a lot more discussion than any other we have read -which is what buddy reads are all about!

Thank you to Elisha at Berkley Publishing Group and to Uzma Jalaluddin for an arc of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Published on Goodreads on 7.6.19.
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
909 reviews13.8k followers
June 25, 2019
The premise and characters alone in this made it so groundbreaking and fun to read. I like that this book explored Islam from both a traditional perspective and a modern one, and how those two interact. The representation in this, the wide cast of brown characters, and the way it's focused from Pride & Prejudice were really done nicely. I liked how snarky and headstrong Ayesha was, and she was modeled after Elizabeth Bennet so well.

The biggest downfall of this book was the pacing. It was so incredibly difficult to pick up because I was never sucked in. The plot isn't bad at all, so I think it's a writing style issue for me. It was quite longwinded and the third person narration of this came off a bit dry. I was so uninvested that I ended up skimming the last bits of it just for the scenes that would solve the main action, which I liked, but there definitely seemed to be a lot of filler.

I'm torn with this book. I wouldn't necessarily call it a romance because there's so many rotating parts, but if you want to read a P&P retelling with a diverse cast, this might be for you.
Profile Image for ↠Ameerah↞.
206 reviews141 followers
December 19, 2019
More like a 1.5 ⭐ now I have had time to think about it.

Where do I even start with this one?

The author tried to do so much at once that she failed miserably at everything, except Ayesha's delightful grandparents. This book had the potential to be great, as it tackled some prevalent and important issues but the execution was a mess.

Let me start with the things I liked:

Ayesha's grandparents

That's it.

The issues I had with the book:

1. How Khalid was portrayed as socially awkward just because he was following his faith and firm in his belief. You can follow your faith and still be normal person with interpersonal skills. I know, shocking right!?

- The fact that by the end of the book Khalid changed the way he looked and dressed to pacify an Islamaphobe. What made it worse is that the author changed Khalid's appearance under the guise of some (ridiculous) revenge plan to get back at his employer. Its amazimg that when Khalid cut his beard off and wore 'normal' clothing, he was suddenly approachable and had become this social butterfly. 🙄

Are we not tired of the whole Muslims bending over backwards to appease white people trope yet?

2. I was happy when I thought this book would explore the issue with forced marriages in certain cultures (FM has nothing to do with Islam may I also add) but it wasnt explored to it's full potential at all. In fact it was barely touched. We didn't get to see Zareena confront her mother or any development in their relationship at all. This gives me the impression that Zareena's story was thrown in there just for the sake of it as it added no real value to the story.

3. How did Farzana go from a protective and overbearing mother to an evil, conniving woman in the space of a few chapters? There was no rational reasoning for her character to go in this direction and it felt false and unbelievable. There was no redemption or positive development for her character by the end either. Not that there always needs to be redemption but we literally got nothing. No development whatsoever. The author just played right into the stereotype of the evil mother in-law.

4. The whole Tarik/Hafsa saga was just so ridiculous and immature. What was the point!? How did the author manage to get Hafsa from being a girl following cultural norms with arranged marriage to running off with a guy she met a few fimes and taking nude pictures for him, which then end up on a porn site? I can't even comprehend the thought process behind this. It was almost as though the author threw this storyline in there for the shock factor but it fell very flat and was extremely unbelievable.

5. Most characters were unlikeable and really judgemental which made it difficult to connect or relate to any of them. It was basically a bitch fest.

6. Almost every important story that could have made the book great was brushed over or just never explored at all.

-Ayesha's father's death
-Why Farzana was the way she was
-The reasoning behind Hafsa's entitled behaviour
-Zareena'a experience in Pakistan, her abortion, her relationship with her family etc
-Tarik's story
- Amir's journey with alcoholism
and so much more...

There is a lot more I could say about the issues with this book but honestly I just want to forget that I read it.

I will say this though, can authors who are trying to write a book with good Muslim rep STOP creating a distinction between 'moderate' Muslim (what even is that?) characters, who are lenient in certain matters and 'extreme' Muslims who are only deemed so because they choose to follow the religion closely. It does more harm than good.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for S.K. Ali.
Author 11 books2,240 followers
January 18, 2018
I had the opportunity to read this adorable book before it releases to the world!

World, you are in for a treat!

Profile Image for Katie B.
1,259 reviews2,943 followers
April 23, 2019
3.5 stars

I'll admit I almost passed on this book because I thought does the world really need yet another modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice? Thankfully, I went ahead and read this book anyway and I can honestly say it feels like something fresh and different and not something I have read a hundred times before.

Ayesha Shamsi lives in Canada and is working as teacher even though she has dreams of being a poet. Her cousin Hafsa is younger than Ayesha but she has already rejected numerous marriage proposals. Enter Khalid, who Ayesha kinda sorta likes but also kinda sorta hates because he comes across as super judgmental. But now that he is set to marry Hafsa, Ayesha's feelings towards him don't even matter, right? RIGHT?

It took me a pretty long time to warm up to Khalid and I much preferred Ayesha's parts of the story. I do wonder if I would have liked the book a tad more if the focus would have only been on Ayesha rather than being split among multiple characters. I love how the book featured Muslim characters and the different ways the author was able to weave that into the story really sets this book apart from typical romances. Definitely recommend giving this one a chance even if you feel like you have read one too many modern day retellings of classic books. This one is worth a read in my opinion.

I won a free advance copy of this book in a giveaway but was under no obligation to post a review. All views expressed are my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Sahar.
302 reviews251 followers
July 5, 2021
As a teen, I would often fantasise about how cool it would be to have Islamicized versions of my favourite books and characters. As an avid fan of fairytale retellings and reimagined stories, I was utterly ecstatic to hear of a Muslamic remake of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

My enthusiasm, however, waned almost instantly the moment I opened the book.

From the lack of coherent writing to the unnatural dialogue between characters, Ayesha at Last was messy, contrived and wholly unrealistic, which is quite an astounding feat considering this was supposed to be a retelling of an existing story. The protagonists, Khalid and Ayesha (26 and 27 respectively) were incredibly juvenile, acting like angsty children for the entirety of the novel. Not sure if this was down to poor writing or if they were intended to be this annoying. Khalid is portrayed as an emotionally repressed, borderline Muslim Twitter-incel man-child whose entire personality is his thobe – which he wears to work btw (#UnapologeticallyMuslim). Ayesha meanwhile is fiddling around with a career she loathes whilst trying to become the new Rumi. When she’s not ordering alcohol for her bestie, she’s trying to console her younger cousin, Hafsa, whose sole goal in life is to receive a hundred rishtas (aim high, girl!).

I really couldn’t tell if Ayesha was practicing or not. Khalid was portrayed as an orthodox, practicing Muslim man (albeit largely negatively in the narrative) but bar Ayesha’s donning of the hijab, there was no allusion to her performing other acts of ibadah. In fact, all religious association with her character was in a lacking manner; from literal identity theft and falling asleep in the masjid, to ordering alcohol and labelling Khalid as a ‘fundy’ (fundamentalist) for praying and limiting his contact with women – “a priest in a strip club”, “judgmental, sexist jerk”, she called him – there was nothing positive said about Ayesha’s religiosity or (evident lack thereof). Ayesha and Khalid’s “banter” was also very dry and artificial—kinda rom-com bar the com and the rom is just childish verbal abuse. I’m sorry but how do you at the big age of 27 think comparing Khalid’s thobe to bedsheets is a good comeback? My little cousins could diss harder than that. You’d think as an aspiring poet Ayesha would be a bit more articulate. But then again, her poems weren’t exactly stellar.

“My religion is not something I’m willing to compromise.” – Khalid. Except at the end he renounces the thobe and topi and shaves his beard to confront his Islamophobic boss. I didn’t get it. He also accepts Ayesha’s invitation to come to her HOUSE to learn how to cook with her nani. At this point I was ready to DNF because it was so unrealistic and contradictory. I did like nani though, I must admit. I understand that Ayesha and Khalid’s mutual dislike was intended to breed fondness, but the way the whole cooking scene and the invitation prior was written was difficult to read and I still don’t know how she got away with inviting a random man to her very Muslim desi home.

In an eager pursuit to address (seemingly all!) the common discriminatory/Islamophobic issues Western Muslims face, Jalaluddin sidetracks the reader by introducing a series of bizarre subplots. The overarching P&P storyline exits left whilst the plethora of splintered subplots (particularly in the second half of the book) are unnecessarily brought to centre stage. For instance, the subplots involving the explicit website, a couple eloping, the lingerie business, Khalid’s estranged sister, mosque politics and workplace discrimination got a bit much. Had Jalaluddin focused on the core storyline in earnest without yoking any and every issue under the sun into the narrative, this may have redeemed itself. She could’ve kept the story closer to Khalid and Ayesha, properly exploring their relationship and respective personal battles.

The ending was also very rushed and sloppy; there was no satisfactory resolution to a number of the aforementioned subplots. I was wildly taken aback by the lack of attention given to the one involving the Tareq and Hafsa.
On a personal note, I had an issue with the description of a particular character’s clothing—she was described as wearing “ugly orange cotton shalwar kameez”. I found this very offensive since I was, at the time, wearing orange shalwar kameez, so reading that felt like a bit of a shank.

All the above being said, I do appreciate that Jalaluddin intended to debunk popular myths about Muslims and marriage in this work. Ayesha was older than Khalid - we seldom find examples of this age dynamic in fiction (or indeed real life), so I’m glad that was woven into the narrative. I also think she does a good job of accurately representing South Asian culture and highlighting some of the taboos within the culture, especially around rishtas and standards. For the reasons stated here I am giving this book 2 stars as I believe the crux of the story would’ve been sound had the subplots not been as abundant and random as they were.

Profile Image for Mackenzie - PhDiva Books.
416 reviews14.4k followers
July 2, 2019
Through a myriad of Pride and Prejudice adaptations, it would be easy to think you’ve seen it all. I am a total sucker for the story, because it is so timeless and I’ve always found the way two independent characters come together to make my heart swell. Uzma Jalaluddin’s novel Ayesha at Last features two Muslim leads living in Toronto and feeling the pull between culture, family, religion, love, and passion. I found Ayesha at Last to be an entirely fresh take on the story, and one that completely delighted me from page one until the very last!

About the Book

Ayesha and Khalid have different ideas of what it means to interpret their faith and duty to their families, and they are constantly battling over those differences.

Ayesha is teaching high school and writing poetry when she can. She’s never appreciated the tradition of rishtas, where the families negotiate a union while she awkwardly avoids making too much eye contact with a man whom she could end up engaged to without even a solo conversation.

Khalid and his mother recently moved to Ayesha’s neighborhood. He works in technology but finds himself the target of his new boss, who shames his conservative religious views and dress. But when Khalid sees Ayesha one morning in her purple hijab, he can’t help but feel a spark of something. Love? But Khalid believes strongly in arranged marriages--he will let his mother choose for him.

When Ayesha’s cousin Hafsa asks her to fill in for her at a conference planning team at the mosque, Ayesha and Khalid find themselves forced to work together despite their differences. And then things only get more complicated from there. They clash, they butt heads, but perhaps there is something more between them.. How can it ever work though when Khalid is committed to marrying the woman his mother chooses for him?


There is very little in the way of physical romance, and understandably so. But the romantic tension is some of the strongest I’ve felt, founded upon two people who are so committed to their beliefs, that they struggle to acknowledge what they truly desire.

There is a levity to this book, despite what might be perceived as weighty themes. I found myself laughing at witty one-liners, and I adored the banter between Ayesha, Khalid, and the surrounding characters. Khalid’s best friend, for instance, is a riot though troubled. His storyline was surprisingly deep, and a lovely addition to this book.

This book was much more than a retelling of Pride and Prejudice. It has many other storylines that are fresh and inviting. I was talking to a friend about the book, and while describing it I found myself very interested in the evolution of a community steeped in tradition but also stocked with multiple generations whose interpretation and practice of those traditions is in a state of evolution. Even within a single generation we see everyone from modern Ayesha to traditional Khalid to friends of theirs who showcase all different ways of balancing their faith and their lives.

There is also a really great moment of cultural learning between Ayesha and her best friend (non-Muslim) around rishtas. I won’t spoil it, but it is such a fun scene and a beautiful way to think about how much we all still have to learn from each other’s cultures and traditions. That there is still room for the beauty of rituals in the modern world, just in a new way.

I can’t recommend this book enough!

Thank you to Berkley for my copy. Opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,415 reviews7,430 followers
September 25, 2019
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

When it comes to anything that claims to be a Pride and Prejudice retelling, my reaction is pretty much . . . . .

I think I’ve read three of them this year alone.

Ayesha At Last could have done itself some favors and made it more clear that it was simply inspired by the Austen classic, as I’m sure there will be some naysayers in the batch who were expecting a modernized, Muslim regurge of an old fave (pick up Unmarriageable if you are looking for a Middle-Eastern version that remains truer to the original – and make sure to wear your Thanksgiving pants because that one will make you want to eat all the food).

The ensemble cast of Bennetts and Bingleys may be missing this time, but Ayesha makes up for things with an “opposites attract . . . . eventually” trope as our modern Ayesha spars with traditional Khalid. This book also tackles real-life issues regarding prejudices (both inside and outside of the community) and I enjoyed tremendously that the “good” characters were fully fleshed out while the uggos were given no depth whatsoever (because let’s face it – in real life you (hopefully) wouldn’t waste a lot of time on garbage humans). Bottom line, when it comes to this little book . . . . .

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Sorry I suck so hard at posting anything in a timely manner!

Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 57 books7,898 followers
June 30, 2019
A Muslim romcom take on Pride and Prejudice, where the Darcy character is a fundamentalist. This is pure genius as a concept--we really can believe he knows that little about women, the arranged marriage stuff fits, and it allows us to believe in the utter cinnamon roll under the judgemental exterior, because unlike the yawnsome Darcy, Khalid actually isn't just a boring lump of unacknowledged privilege that we're supposed to be impressed by when he stops being quite such a dick.

Sorry. I loathe Jane Austen.

This book is mostly glorious. Khalid is an utter joy of a character--deeply religious but demonstrating that deep religion doesnt have to make people horrible jerks: that's a personal choice. He screws up through ignorance and awkwardness more than anything else, and it is *adorable* watching him gain in confidence and see his kindness. There's a lovely cast and a soap opera feel to the whole thing, and it wears its Shakespeare comedy heart on its sleeve. The villains are pretty one dimensional and several of the minor characters played mostly for laughs, but that fits. It's bright, breezy, vivid, and gigantic fun.

The only part that really lost me was that, having taken P&P as the jumping off point and then happily gone its own way, the book wrenches back on Austen track with the Disastrous Proposal scene. And it really really does not work. It's too late in their relationship, it isn't necessary for the plot, and it doesn't fit Khalid's character growth. It was really jarring to feel Austen's dead hand descend there.

Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed this. Next book by this author will be autobuy.
Profile Image for Anum Shaharyar.
95 reviews426 followers
February 25, 2019
Certain stories, it seems, will never stop being adapted, either into other genres and settings, or on to various mediums. One such versatile tale is Jane Austen’s 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice. From a British miniseries to a Bollywood adaptation (Bride and Prejudice) and even an online vlog (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries), it has also crossed genres from the detective (Death Comes to Pemberly by P.D. James) to the undead (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) and has been a popular base for modern novels (such as Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary).

Each adaptation has fluctuated wildly in how faithful it is to the original. That is a given, as adaptations can, as a matter of course, differ in what they retain of the original concept. However, while the latest offering in the line — Uzma Jalaluddin’s Ayesha At Last — is quite exciting as it puts a Muslim take on the story, in failing to retain much of Austen’s original plotline or charm, the book loses its allure.

The basic plot of Pride and Prejudice is a proud hero and a prejudiced heroine slowly unlearning lifelong habits and falling in love along the way. It makes for a captivating story. Unfortunately, the execution of this story in Jalaluddin’s novel is weak at best. The protagonist, Ayesha Shamsi, doesn’t have a gaggle of sisters or a mother obsessed with marriage or a Bingley moving in next door. There is, in fact, no character based on Bingley at all. What we do have is an Ayesha whose father died in suspicious circumstances back in India, prompting her widowed mother to move to suburban Toronto with her two children and her parents. Ayesha has a younger brother (nowhere present in the original), a set of grandparents (also missing in the original), and wears a hijab. That’s because Ayesha is Muslim — a refreshing twist which adds another point to the representation of Islamic stories.

But while it is very exciting that Muslim youngsters — who rarely see themselves represented as anything but a teenager about to be recruited for terrorism or, at best, a funny sidekick — can now see themselves as part of the main narrative, it is disappointing how weak the story itself is. Everything from the writing (middle-grade at best) and the characters (so very different from the original) to the plot itself, fail to impress. This might be the fault of the publishers who chose to market this book as a P&P retelling for young adult audiences. This creates false expectations; it would have made more sense had the novel been touted as a story about navigating this world as a regular girl who happens to be a hijabi.

Ayesha’s family includes a Shakespeare-quoting grandfather and cook-extraordinaire grandmother, a moody teenage brother and an overworked mother with a broken heart. Then there is the extended family, complete with flighty younger cousin Hafsa who receives multiple marriage proposals per week and for whom Ayesha is forced to act as the responsible, mature older cousin.

Because of a misunderstanding at the local mosque, Ayesha — who spends her days handling teenage students in her day job as a substitute teacher at the community school while simultaneously dreaming about being a poet — is forced to pretend to be Hafsa. As a consequence, she must now plan a conference with Khalid, the Mr Darcy to Ayesha’s Elizabeth Bennet.

Khalid — in a refreshing turn of events — is an actual practicing Muslim. It is important to get this point across because, even though the occurrence of Muslim characters has increased in recent years, it is still rare for those who practise the religion faithfully to be depicted as anything but evil, much less the actual hero of the story. The Muslim characters you do encounter in much of modern fiction are there as token representation, fine with drinking alcohol and never once mentioning prayers or actual Muslim holidays. This is why Khalid, who wears a thobe and a skullcap to his work as an e-commerce project manager, is such a welcome relief. Our handsome and conservative hero, who believes love comes after marriage, moves to Ayesha’s neighbourhood at the beginning of the story with his widowed mother — a scheming character completely new to the P&P narrative. However, Khalid’s sister, banished from the family to India for mysterious reasons, draws some parallels to Darcy’s sister Georgiana, and Wickham is introduced here as the charming rogue Tarek Khan, a slick conference organiser working with Ayesha and Khalid for the mosque.

A fun thing about reading an adaptation is identifying which parts of the new story were inspired by the original, or where the author linked the work to the source, and Jalaluddin does give quite a few nods to Austen. From the oft-quoted opening line “It is a truth universally acknowledged” to pivotal scenes such as the couple’s first, supremely awkward meeting or the horribly botched proposal, there are brief flashes of connection between this book and the text published in 1813. And since it is an ‘adaptation’, we already know most of what is going to happen. We know Tarek has his eye on Ayesha’s cousin Hafsa and that he is ultimately untrustworthy. We also know that even though there might be misunderstandings at first, our couple will eventually find their way to each other. I will concede that here, Jalaluddin does deliver on what she promises: Ayesha and Khalid, initially not willing to trust or like the other, find themselves taking comfort in each other’s presence and the various scheming characters — threatening to undo it all — ultimately lead our protagonists to fight their own pride and prejudices to find their ways back to each other.

There are several contemporary and cultural nods as well. Jalaluddin uses the story to talk about workplace Islamophobia, with Khalid facing a discriminatory boss and finding help in a supportive human resource manager. Ayesha’s lack of marriage prospects at the age of 27 gets a mention, pointing towards communities that value early marriages. Then there is the reference to political idealism and journalistic principles of fighting to report the truth, as Ayesha’s father died as a journalist fighting for worthy causes in India. Jalaluddin incorporates a number of issues into her story but, unfortunately, her deviations from the original plot, while relevant, don’t manage to retain the reader’s interest.

It is hard to feel invested, much less moved, by the plight of our protagonists — probably because, unlike Austen’s witty commentary on the times or the romantic comedy of manners she sketched, Jalaluddin doesn’t hold that same command over language. In the times in which we live, this story might be important, but here’s hoping there are multiple other adaptations as well, so that with increased representation of the modern Muslim, we also get better literature.


This review was originally published in Books and Authors on 11 November, 2018.


I review Pakistani Fiction, and talk about Pakistani fiction, and want to talk to people who like to talk about fiction (Pakistani and otherwise, take your pick.) To read more reviews or just contact me so you can talk about books, check out my Blog or follow me on Twitter!
Profile Image for a.
1,160 reviews
February 22, 2019

This was such a great Pride and Prejudice retelling!

The perfect blend of sweet and swoony, this modern retelling was everything my P&P obsessed heart needed. I especially loved that this was centered around Muslim characters and family's. It was so great getting to learn about Ayesha and Khalid's culture and different (but also very relatable) perspectives on marriage, life and love.

From nearly the first page, I was completely drawn in and I found myself unable to put this book down for hours. I read this nearly in one sitting and I was stunned when I would pause to drink water or check the time only to realize that I hadn't moved in hours. Ayesha is such a relatable character and I love that throughout this book we get to go on this journey with not only Ayesha but Khalid as well and watch them grow.

So why 4 stars? Around 75% into the book I started to lose my steam a bit and things started to drag a little. Not that it wasn't enjoyable, because I still was having a great time but at the same time I was starting to become impatient to have all the drama end already. I also wish there was a bit more romance in this book. Because of the plot and the characters, I knew that this wasn't going to be a steamy read by any means and the little moments we got made my heart skip a beat a few times but still...I wanted a little more. And finally, my last (and this is a bit silly) complaint is the emphasis the book seemed to put on Ayesha's age and how she's this "old maiden" and too old for the hero even though she's only a year older than him. I do understand it, and understand that it's a cultural thing but after the second time, it became a bit annoying.

Ayesha at Last was a fantastic debut from the author and is the perfect romance to read if you're a fan of Pride and Prejudice and looking for a more modern take, that still sticks to all the things we love most about the classic. I cannot wait to read more from this author!

*Arc given in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!!
Profile Image for Emma.
899 reviews869 followers
April 6, 2019
The ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

3.75/5 stars

Full review here

When I saw that this book was a Pride and Prejudice retelling featuring two Muslim characters living in Canada I knew I had to read it. I'm always up for a nice retelling with some good representation.
This novel did not feel like a debut at all, the author Uzma Jalaluddin really did a good job, I was quite impressed.
I must say I struggled a bit in the first third of the book. I think it was due to the two main characters not interacting very much with each other and also to some of Khalid's behaviours. To be honest in the beginning I totally agreed with Ayesha, he was too judgemental and I did not like the way he took one look at Ayesha and assumed everything about her life. I'm happy to say he redeemed himself and understood that sometimes it's not really nice to assume and to judge people without knowing the full picture. I liked how Ayesha and Khalid's story was dealt with, they did not fall madly in love straightaway, just like Elizabeth and Darcy. The little moments they shared were really cute and sweet.
The author also included a lot of things that Muslim people have to go through, such as discrimination in the work place. Sheila was the real rotten apple in there and we knew it from day one. I'm just glad Khalid stood up for himself with the help of his friends.
Overall it was a nice book with good representation. The pride and prejudice elements were there, but there was also much more included that you would not expect and that will surprise you in the most wonderful way!
Profile Image for Sherwood Smith.
Author 156 books37.5k followers
June 22, 2019
This was publicized heavily as "Pride and Prejudice with Muslim characters," which gave me some misgivings, but I've been on the lookout for fiction with Muslims that doesn't tokenize them, or double-team Muslims with terrorism, so I went for it despite being somewhat tired of P&P cash-ins.

Glad I did. Jalaluddin actually does a better job than most of the recent crop of Austen cash-ins by touching the basic plot points as well as the tone--somewhat satiric romance, observation of people with occasional flashes of insight, and also of parody.

I think this could have been a terrific novel without the Austen substrate, though I suspect it wouldn't have had nearly the publicity push it got. As it was, the changes Jalaluddin made helped shape an engaging story once we met all the recognizable character types: for example, the Darcy-character, Khalid, has an older sister with a Past, rather than a younger. The Wickham character is a lot more sinister in intent than the Wickham of Austen's story. Ayesha has no sisters--the Lydia character is her cousin, and Ayesha gets into a jam by pretending to be her cousin for plot reasons.

I really appreciated the fact that these Muslim characters are living their lives, not being tokens or villains--they come from all over the world (as Muslims do) and their identity as Muslim ranges from deeply devout to assimilated in all but who they hang out with.

Along the way they do collide with prejudice but the author keeps the pacing brisk, and the tone sparkling, as Austen did in her own book. Khalid/Darcy is unlikeable at first in his own prejudice, but as we get to know and understand him, his character takes on appeal, especially as he works to understand and improve himself.

Ayesha/Lizzie is a lot of fun, her cousin alternately annoying and a crackup, as Lydia is. The various aunties and hovering mothers determined to wrest their kids into marriage are entertaining, but drawn with a sympathetic touch.

I really enjoyed it.

Copy courtesy of NetGalley
Profile Image for Lisa.
1,422 reviews538 followers
June 8, 2019
I was happily surprised by this offbeat romantic comedy. The novel is billed as a modern day "Pride and Prejudice" but it is not a derivative retelling. Jalaluddin has created something new, nodding to both Austen and Shakespeare. She examines prejudice and narrow mindedness from several angles. I found myself re-thinking some of my assumptions as the novel progressed. A delightful read that is also thought provoking.

(I won an ARC from the Goodreads Giveaway program)
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,374 reviews1,836 followers
May 26, 2019
It pains me to rate this so low considering all the excitement I had surrounding this title, not to mention the brilliant diversity in this particular retelling, but..

If this story had been just about Ayesha and Khalid, with the former's delightful grandparents thrown into the mix, I probably would've rated this much higher. But then it also wouldn't have been as true to the PRIDE & PREJUDICE retelling. Or.. maybe it could've been! All I know is there were so many villains, so many unpleasant characters, and I was just bothered and frustrated by it all.

But even some of the non-villains were just.. annoying. The drama was really turned up and I know this is fictional but I was really uncomfortable, not to mention fairly rage-y, over the discrimination in the workplace plot line. Like.. no, I'm sorry. I just can't see that going as far as it did; and maybe I'm extra sensitive about it because this took place in my hometown? I'm not saying I'm naive enough to believe things like this don't happen in some form or another, as much as we think we're all above it, but it just went too far.

I think what it comes down to, more than anything, is while I'm aware that most of these caricatures existed in the original, I'm honestly starting to wonder if I just can't get behind the book anymore; if maybe I wouldn't even like the original if I tried to read it today. Maybe I should just stick to movie or TV adaptations from now on.

I love that this book exists for the representation it brings, I did enjoy the changes to the family structures the author made, could appreciate the Toronto setting (even if it only amounted to random references to Timbits and a fairly loose, though accurate, description of Scarborough..), but.. lots of buts.

** I received an ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Profile Image for Robin Loves Reading.
2,112 reviews383 followers
June 6, 2019
Ayesha Shamsi is a modern Muslim and is quite talented as a poet and has the opportunity to share her poetry. However, she works as a substitute teacher. She longs to get married but is not keen on the process involved with her family and her faith. However, Ayesha is behaving quite conscientiously. When she and her family arrived in in Canada, from India, her uncle helped in tremendous ways, something that she makes her feel deeply indebted. She hopes her job as a teacher will allow her to begin to pay her uncle back. Meanwhile, Ayesha cannot get away from her family, because her cousin Hafsa is front and center in her life. Hafsa is presented as having far more to offer than Ayesha and has been receiving numerous marriage proposals.

Khalid Mirza is a conservative and devout Muslim man. He is doing his best to follow the rules of his culture and tradition in his manner of dress and style and by allowing his mother to arrange marriage for him. When Khalid meets Ayesha, she affects him so much that he forgets to breathe, However, she is nowhere near as traditional as Khalid, so therefore, he finds her unacceptable and never once wants to trust the feelings he cannot help but to have for her.

While Ayesha is indeed drawn to Khalid, there are indeed obstacles that would prevent her from ever considering anything further with him. For one thing, there is much gossip about Khalid and his family, so bad, in fact, that Ayesha wants to be as far away from him as possible. She also knows that his mother has other plans for Khalid. Beyond that, Ayesha has very good reasons never to trust her heart.

Ayesha at Last is a multi-layered story. The stories intertwine quite well. The reader will be able to see things like Ayesha and her relationship with her cousin. Then there Khalid's mother and how she strives to orchestrate everything in his life. Meanwhile, he is facing huge adversity on his job. The fact that his boss shows remarkable aversion to him simply because of his religion and appearance was nothing less than despicable.

This debut novel was absolutely incredible! I can barely believe that Uzma Jalaluddin could write such an amazing book. So many scenes in this book are permanently imprinted in my brain. I learned about the culture and how, in today's society, things such as planned marriages still exist here in the United States. All I wanted was for Ayesha and Khalid to find love. For the author to write a book with so many conflicts and the resolutions that occurred, well, it was done expertly.

What an amazing book! If this is what this extraordinary author has to offer her readers, no doubt I will be first in line for any book she dares to pen. So, if you cannot tell already, I highly recommend this read. If one is overly concerned about the fact that this involves a situation where faith is often mentioned, they need not worry. What they will get is a book with real people, in real situations, with even some humor, oh, and beautiful poetry, finding their way to love just like any other romance novel one would read. Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not mention that this is a modern-day Pride and Prejudice retelling.

Many thanks to HarperCollins and to Edelweiss for this ARC to review in exchange for my honest opinion.
Profile Image for nick (the infinite limits of love).
2,119 reviews1,336 followers
March 4, 2019

Ayesha at Last was a book I just couldn't wait to get my hands on to because:
a) Look at that gorgeous cover!
b) P&P retelling!
c) Brown people falling in love!
d) Did I mention, the gorgeous cover?????
I'm so happy that Ayesha at Last hit all the right notes for me. It was such a gorgeously written debut and I, for one, can't wait to see what Uzma comes up with next!

Ayesha at Last was charming from start to finish, and a lot of it has to do with the characters. I adored each and every one of them. They will seem very familiar to readers who have read or watched Pride & Prejudice, but Uzma Jalaluddin still manages to make them across as fresh and delightful. I adored Ayesha. She was feisty, smart and very bull-headed, exactly like Lizzie Bennett. She had dreams and hopes of being a poet and was very passionate about the art. A misunderstanding at the local mosque pushes Ayesha to take the identity of her colorful cousin, Hafsah, and to be forced in the proximity of Khalid, a man she had previously met at a poetry lounge who had made assumptions about the kind of Muslim girl she was. Khalid, at first glance, may not seem anything like Ayesha. He was very devout and conservative and as a result, seemed a little quiet and stoic. To say that I loved Khalid would be a serious understatement. He may have initially judged Ayesha when he first met her, but he was such a kind soul. There was something very genuine and innocent about his character that I could not resist.

Ayesha and Khalid's romance was one that was developed slowly. I loved watching them gradually connect with each other and become acquainted with each others' real personalities. They meshed beautifully together and there were so many heartwarming and adorable scenes the two shared. These two certainly had my shipper heart very giddy! Admittedly, this isn't a romance novel that has any physical scenes of any kind between the couple, but that does not mean there is no sense of intimacy between the pair. In fact, I think the lack of actual physical scenes made Ayesha and Khalid's romance all the more intense for me. They both had a lot to overcome and their path to a happily ever after was far from without any obstacles. If you know anything about dramatic brown families, then you know exactly the sort of upheavals to expect with this book. I was delighted though so many of the faces were familiar. I especially adored Ayesha's grandparents, who were just breaths of fresh air. I also loved how rich in culture Ayesha at Last was. You see so much of both Ayesha and Khalid's traditions throughout the book. In particular, I was pleased with how Uzma Jalaluddin showed just how diverse and sometimes personal religion and faith can be to people. You see all shades of Muslims in this book and no one is villainized.

Ayesha at Last is definitely a book whose interior is just as lovely as the exterior. It was a beautiful and important tale of love, family, faith, and life, and I can't recommend it highly enough.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,243 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.