In Brick Lane, author Monica Ali presents the story of two Indian sisters as they seek love. Hasina elopes in a love marriage and seems to fall into love naturally while Nanzeen moves to London as part of an arranged marriage and waits for love to grow in her union. Throughout this modern-day love story, September 11 happens and the war on terrorism begins. What could be a story focused on the state of Indians during our current political climate, in fact becomes a tale of love. What is it and how does one find it?
Ali introduces, as a backdrop to her story, an accepted definition of love by Indian elders. "There are two kinds of love. The kind that starts off big and slowly wears away, that seems you can never use it up and then one day is finished. And the kind that you don't notice at first, but which adds a little bit to itself every day, like an oyster makes a pearl, grain by grain, a jewel from the sand."
Brick Lane starts out seemingly as propaganda for the merits of arranged marriages. Nanzeen marries Chanu, a much older, unattractive man who is pompous and long-winded. However, Chanu provides for her and treats her kindly. Nanzeen first views her husband in disgust as she grooms him and his home. Eventually though, she finds comfort in the stability in her life and wonder if what she feels for him is love.
Hasina flees her home in Bangladesh to marry her love, writing to her sister that, "We have love. Love is happiness. I feel to run and jump like goat." That love soon fizzles, however, and Hasina flees that home and finds herself on the go for many years.Read more ›