Brick Lane by Monica Ali
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book has so much potential. Its a beautiful, powerful story of an ethnic woman. Not something particularly common. And its not a story with a soppy, romantic ending (although, you could be forgiven for thinking it will be). This is a powerful story of a woman doing the best for herself and her family, and gaining some peace and happiness (though its still not all perfect).
But it just doesn't live up to the story. Its not the writing - thats spot-on. Its not the characters - they're fairly dynamic most of the time. It just seems a little overdrawn, a little plain.
The woman has a sordid affair, and yet we are never given an in-depth look at Nazneen's thoughts. It skips to a letter from her sister or she begins reminiscing about the past. And then there are a couple of delusional visions featuring her mother. Her infant son dies, and yet he seems forgotten about for the rest of the novel. Surely there was more to look at there.
This novel is illuminating and encouraging for other women who may feel trapped (by anything - culture, religion, expectations, abuse - anything at all). But it just doesn't go far enough; it is not illuminating enough. There won't be the lasting impact that there could have been. For a novel that is so brilliant, I fear it may be forgotten by me as time goes on.