I feel like this has been the year of Pride and Prejudice retellings, but I think Ayesha at Last might be my favorite! It transcends the original, bringing new depth to the story.
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Ayesha at Last is such a fabulous Pride and Prejudice retelling, bringing new depth and color to this classic. It discusses how it’s hard to turn our backs on our dreams – what we are convinced we don’t want in the favor of hazy dreams which we should want. When what we desired should take root in our heart, ,but instead leaves us hollow. What I adored about Ayesha at Last was that we receive Khalid’s perspective and it gives the entire book new flavor! Ayesha at Last handles issues of class, religious difference, and racism.
Just like the classic, Ayesha at Last tackles when we are convinced our opinions about the world are right and cemented, rigid and without bend. But unlike the classic, Ayesha at Last deals with racism and particularly in the workplace – what can we do? Do we compromise our religion, our beliefs, in order to fit in, to be less scary, to survive? In this way, I really loved Khalid’s perspective and how he has to learn to come to terms with some of his own opinions – as well as how to deal with the conflict.
Ayesha at Last is about first impressions, split decisions, and wrong assumptions. But at the same time, it’s about our desire for happiness and freedom, freedom to be who we are and happy with who that is. We are trying to figure out who we want to be. Ayesha at Last is much more than the classic, as it discusses who we are in relation to our family, to our future, to our past.