Yasmin Ghorami is twenty-six, in training to be a doctor (like her Indian-born father), and engaged to the charismatic, upper-class Joe Sangster, whose domineering mother, Helen, is a famous feminist. Though both Yasmin’s parents and Joe’s mother approve of the marriage, the cultural gulf between Yasmin and Joe is vast.
The novel opens as Yasmin and her family pile into their car, packed with Indian food prepared by Yasmin’s mother, to go to dinner to meet Joe’s mother in her elegant townhouse in one of London’s poshest neighborhoods. Contrary to all of Yasmin’s fears, her unsophisticated mother is embraced and celebrated by Helen and her friends. But before long, complications ensue when Yasmin discovers Joe’s promiscuous nature, her brother is banished from the house by her father, and Yasmin’s mother moves to Helen’s house in protest.
Bold, intimate, and entertaining, Love Marriage is a multi-layered story that explores how the secrets people keep hidden affect their most intimate relationships—and how sometimes, it takes extreme upheaval, to find ourselves and our lives, truly transformed.
Love Marriage is a hard book to review – I absolutely loved it and I fear I won’t be able to do it justice in trying to describe why I loved it!
The book follows Yasmin, an Indian-born woman in her late 20s who is training to be a doctor, as she navigates engaged life with her fiance Joe, whose family are very upper class and very British. The book begins with a brilliant series of scenes, where Yasmin’s family are preparing to go to Joe’s mother Harriet’s house for dinner – the first time the two families have all met up. She is decidedly nervous. Monica Ali writes such brilliantly, I could very well imagine it all – from a half Asian family myself (though not Indian), I picked up on lots of similar social similarities and habits when reading it. It really made me smile.
It soon becomes apparent that all is not perfect in Yasmin and Joe’s relationship, and she’s having a hard time with family struggles too. Though their relationship is evidently a key part of Love Marriage, this is not a love story – it’s much more than that! So if you read it wanting lots of romance and details about how Joe and Yasmin connected, you’ll be a bit disappointed. For me, that was not a problem – I was far more interested in the here and now, and how Yasmin’s family were going to get through a truly difficult time. There are plenty of themes at play here, and I don’t want to give too much away, but some parts are quite emotional.
The book is written so brilliantly and authentically; I never felt like anything was over dramatised or overworked and the characters were just brilliant. From the infuriating to the lovable (I really loved Yasmin, despite some questionable choices – she’s definitely not without her own faults!), everyone in this novel feels real and convincing.
I enjoyed the everyday occurrences that take place in this novel which feel very relatable and the way it made me think about what family, relationships and friends mean to you. I can see why it’s been so popular and really enjoyed it.