Brick Lane by Monica Ali

September’s book club saw us cover Brick Lane by Monica Ali. Unfortunately although we were quite small in numbers this month, I appeared to be the only one that enjoyed this! The main criticism for the book was the fact that there was no story and no-one appeared to be happy. A few struggled with the flashbacks via the letters Nazneen receives from her sister. One member even admitted that she didn’t finish the book, such was the lack of interest for it.

When Nazneen begins the affair with Karim, members felt that this just didn’t fit right and the whole book seemed to be full of stereotypes and urban myths around that culture.

The character of Chanu we decided was incredibly naive and not arrogant as was suggested.

The biggest debate was around the whole arranged marriage versus a love marriage. This we agreed still happens in all walks of life and not necessarily just this culture.

The agreed verdict was that the book was depressive and scored an average of 2/5

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One Response to Brick Lane by Monica Ali

  1. Cathy says:

    This was also chosen for my book club quite a while back. I can’t remember if everyone liked it, I know I wasn’t massively keen on it. I just had a look to see what I wrote about it on Amazon:

    “I used to pick this book up in the bookshop near work a few years ago, and each time, I put it back down again. I wish I’d trusted my instincts when it was chosen for our book club and said I didn’t fancy it, but as the whole point of a book club is to read something you wouldn’t usually read, I thought I’d give it a try.

    If it was a struggle to start, it was certainly a struggle to finish. I don’t usually struggle through books; my feeling is there are too many books in the world to bother struggling through one you’re not enjoying, but as it was for my book club, I felt obliged to see it through to the end.

    I’ve given it two stars as it is very well written (except for the letters from the sister: why were they in there?). If I was rating just for the story, it’d get only one star.

    Nazneen has no personality or character as far as we can see. Chanu is better developed as a character, although I found his sudden rages towards his eldest daughter – Shahana – out of character. Why the aggression?

    The letters from the Nazneen’s sister I just couldn’t fathom; either the terrible broken English (why were they in English? Nazneen couldn’t read or write English, broken or otherwise) or why they were added in the first place.

    The affair with Karim didn’t seem to begin or end; it fizzled in, then it fizzled out.

    The only bit that really moved me in any way was when Nazneen told Chanu she wasn’t going to Bangladesh with him.

    The other bit that really stands out was the singing and dancing to Lulu bit. I have never read anything so excruciatingly cringeworthy. Terrible, really terrible.

    One of my book club readers said he didn’t get further than the first page. He was lucky. I wish I hadn’t bothered with the other 400+ pages.”

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