Still in her teenage years, Nazneen finds herself in an arranged marriage
with a disappointed man who is twenty years older. Away from the mud and
heat of her Bangladeshi village, home is now a cramped flat in a high- rise
block in London's East End. Nazneen knows not a word of English, and is
forced to depend on her husband. But unlike him she is practical and wise,
and befriends a fellow Asian girl Razia, who helps her understand the
strange ways of her adopted new British home.Nazneen keeps in touch with
her sister Hasina back in the village. But the rebellious Hasina has kicked
against cultural tradition and run off in a 'love marriage' with the man of
her dreams. When he suddenly turns violent, she is forced into the
degrading job of garment girl in a cloth factory.Confined in her flat by
tradition and family duty, Nazneen also sews furiously for a living, shut
away with her buttons and linings- until the radical Karim steps
unexpectedly into her life. On a background of racial conflict and tension,
they embark on a love affair that forces Nazneen finally to take control of
her fate.Strikingly imagined, gracious and funny, this novel is at once
epic and intimate. Exploring the role of Fate in our lives- those who
accept it; those who defy it- it traces the extraordinary transformation of
an Asian girl, from cautious and shy to bold and dignified woman.

Monica Ali—Brick Lane

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