Brick Lane by Monica Ali

About the book

Brick Lane – named after Brick Lane, a street at the heart of London’s Bangladeshi community – follows the life of Nazneen, a Bangladeshi woman who moves to London at the age of 18, to marry an older man, Chanu. They live in Tower Hamlets. At first her English consists only of “sorry” and “thank you;” the novel explores her life and adaptations in the community, as well as the character of Chanu, and their larger ethnic community.

Review by Basingstoke Library Thursday Reading Group

One gentleman couldn’t get interested in the book so he soon gave up reading it. All the other members are female and they agreed that it was an interesting read. However a few did not exactly “enjoy” the story, but felt compelled to read to the end. I enjoyed it because of the colourful characters, the money-lender reminded me of a Dickens character. We all thought it well worth reading because of the insight it gave into the life of Nazneen, an eighteen year old Bangladeshi girl in an arranged marriage. Very well written story.

Star rating: ****

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18 thoughts on “Brick Lane by Monica Ali”

  1. Review by North Baddesley WI Reading group
    Interesting to hear about another lifestyle but some members found it ‘disjointed’. Perhaps rather long but excellent for a first novel.
    Star rating: ***

  2. Review by The Literature Group
    A powerful novel, beautifully written. Strong characterisation esp. Chanu. An important insight into lives of London immigrants.
    Star rating: ***

  3. Review by Museum book group
    An interesting book looking at immigrants from Bangladesh in the 1950’s. The attitude of husbands and wives in arranged marriages. The expectation of wives and daughters in a British setting. Quite a testing read.
    Star rating: **

  4. Review by Friends of Farnborough
    Star rating: We had several 2 star ratings, a few 3’s and one woman gave it a 5 star.

  5. Review by Shipton Bellinger WI reading group
    Many felt Brick lane a little long winded and repetitive but a minority found it very good indeed. Despite disagreement over the literary style, the content generated much discussion.
    Star rating: **

  6. Review by Anton U3A Bookies reading group:
    Rather slow at the start. Some members gave up reading owing to lack of involvement, others found it a very interesting account of a London community. Voted average!
    Star rating: ***

  7. Review by White Lion reading group:
    Worthy of being shortlisted for Man Booker prize. Interesting view of another culture, and the role of women within it. Very readable, well written and humorous.
    Star rating: ****

  8. Review by Whitchurch Book Group:
    Unusually, the whole group liked this book and found it gave a fascinating insight into a different culture. Well written and the characters all developed during the course of the novel with a few surprises along the way.
    Star rating: ****

  9. Review by Ladies Who Lunch:
    An excellent book for a reading group as it sparked a lot of detailed discussion. Although not liked by 1/5 two loved it and two thought it OK. Will be reading her next book Alentejo Blue.
    Star rating: ****

  10. Review by Goodworth Clatford WI:
    Fascinating insight into the Bangladeshi culture and how its changing when settled in another. The influence of this change on relationships between the sexes. Development of individuality in women translated from the Muslim to a looser culture.
    Star rating: ****

  11. Review by Boaters Book Club:
    The comments were extremely varied on this post colonialism feminist book. Two people really liked it but the other 8/10 did not. The characters, affair, Asian life etc were discussed but generally it was found to be somewhat shallow and muddled. It did not meet the groups expectations.
    Star rating: *+

  12. Review by Kings Somborne reading group:
    Group was divided, but not strongly. Most agreed that it was a worthwhile read and some enjoyed it more than they thought they would. Strong points were well-drawn, developed characters with poignant observations of life as an immigrant. The feeling of not belonging in either place and the alienation from ones ‘westernized’ children are strong themes. Good writing and colourful imagery.
    Star rating: ***

  13. Review by Phoenix reading group:
    An evocative read. Most of us enjoyed the interesting introduction to a different culture, and very grateful to be born into a culture that allows women to have the freedom to choose how to live their lives and not to cut one’s husbands corns!!
    Star rating: ****

  14. Review by Bridewell Beauties:
    Some readers found it over long particularly the letters from the sister. All agreed that characterisation and powers of description were very good. The book gave a good insight into family life in the Bangladeshi community in London.
    Star rating: ***

  15. Review bt Lymington WI reading group:
    We found this very controversial hence we discussed the book longer than usual. Generally enjoyed but quite depressing.
    Star rating: ***

  16. Review by Fawley/Holbury U3A reading group:
    In general, we were surprised at just how much we disliked this book; we had all heard about it and were expecting a great read but, unfortunately, we were disappointed. We did not ‘engage’ with the characters and would have liked more of the back story to give them some context, but it was generally hard going as Nazneen, the main character, was simply boring for 80% of the story. We felt the book needed far more editing, as it was too long and wandered from the storyline, for no purpose.
    Rating: 1 Star

  17. An interesting but sometimes tedious read. Thought-provoking and some interesting characters. An insight into the way of life of arranged marriages in the UK. Two star rating.

  18. Review by Cowdray Reading Group
    Disappointed – had the potential to be a good story but it is overlong. There are far too many scenes and characters in the book to be justified. In particular the letters are almost unreadable and add very little to the book after the first few. Started well but became laboured.
    Star rating: *

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