I haven’t read Monica Ali for 18 years since her outstanding debut “Brick Lane” which was my runner up Book Of The Year back in 2004.
This is her fifth novel which shows once again her great skill at creating characters who will really resonate with the reader. In this book this is particularly the case away from the two main protagonists as she gives us an extremely memorable supporting cast.
Doctors Yasmin and Joe are planning their wedding. Yasmin’s father is a straight-laced Indian GP, who keeps himself to himself and likes nothing better than diagnosing case studies with his daughter. Her mother wears mis-matched charity shop clothes and handles each situation through cooking. Joe’s mother is a feminist writer and intellectual, infamous because of a naked photo which Yasmin’s brother Arif takes great delight in.
Ongoing preparations for the wedding causes both families to implode, Joe to seek therapy and Yasmin to act completely out of character. There is a delicious lightness of touch which makes it an enjoyable read and yet there is darkness in each of the lives which gradually become revealed to Yasmin who is a self-declared maker of “all sorts of misjudgements and assumptions” which is only too common when dealing with all of our responses to family.
I enjoyed the obviously well-researched medical setting; the lives in the hospital compared to the lives in the two very different family settings.
It doesn’t feel as essential a book as “Brick Lane” which felt so right at its time of publication and has since become a modern day classic but this is a strong, highly satisfactory read.
Love Marriage is published in the UK by Virago on February 3rd 2022. Many thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for the advance review copy.