Book Review: Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Posted September 20, 2021 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

Ayesha at Last

Ayesha at Last

by Uzma Jalaluddin

Publisher: HarperCollins on June 12, 2018
Genre: Romance
Target Age Group: Adult
Representation: BIPOC, Hijabi, Muslim
Content Warnings: Abortion, Alcoholism, Bullying, Death of Parent, Islamophobia, Misogyny, Pregnancy, Racism, Religious Bigotry, Violence

Rating: ★★★★½

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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.

It took me a little while to get into Ayesha at Last – at the beginning I thought it was going to be another run-of-the-mill romance and as y’all know… that is not my genre. The deeper I got into the book the more I came to enjoy it. In particular, I really liked Ayesha herself.

If I’m going to read romance, this is how I like it. Ayesha at Last is down-to-Earth and doesn’t shy away from the ugliness of racism. There are a lot of shades of the Muslim faith in this book, and as someone who had very little knowledge on both the Muslim faith and Indian traditions, I really enjoyed the nuances to the world building. I also enjoyed the socio-economic differences between characters that added even more variety to the complex line-up.

Ayesha at Last is a Pride and Prejudice retelling, but I’ll tell you right upfront that you can be completely unfamiliar with Pride and Prejudice and still enjoy the novel. If anything, this story reminds me of elements of Shakespearean comedies… a similarity that was undoubtedly intentional considering how often the Bard was quoted. In addition, mistaken identities always remind me of Shakespeare. 🙂 Yet more nuances to this book I enjoyed! Also Ayesha’s grandparents are purely precious.

All the family relationships were really interesting, and all very different! From role models to benefactors to babysitting to unequal balances of power, there’s a wide variety of connections between characters which adds to the richness of the story. Aside from Ayesha and her grandparents, I also really liked Khalid’s relationship with his sister. The importance (and frustration!) of family comes through really well.

I thought Jalaluddin’s writing was fantastic. While Ayesha at Last may not be a book I run out to the bookstore to get (once is enough for most romances, in my opinion), this skill that went into writing this book proves that Jalaluddin is skilled at her craft. I’ll definitely pick up more books by this author. In addition to that, Ayesha at Last is an easy recommendation that I’d give to most the readers I know in real life!

If you’re looking for a desi romance with frequent, adorable confusion and occasional dramatic gestures, then Ayesha at Last is certainly for you. The minor revenge side plot and the beautifully described wedding are just bonuses after that. I definitely recommend reading this one – by the end, you’ll be cozy and smiling.


Rating: 5 out of 5.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Personal Enjoyment

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


Rating: 5 out of 5.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

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