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Novel set in PAKISTAN (and London)

19th September 2023

Someone Like Her by Awais Khan, novel set in Pakistan (Multan and Lahore) and London.

Novel set in PAKISTAN

Trigger warning: the main theme of this book involves domestic violence, and some descriptions could be upsetting.

Someone Like Her, by Awais Khan, just grew on me – and now I’m a fan! While it might start slowly, the action builds and the characters blossom into completely rounded individuals who are thoroughly engaging. It’s hard to categorise the book – I’d say it’s a love story with a strong moral theme.

Ayesha is in her late twenties and unmarried, living in Multan, Pakistan. She thinks of herself as a modern girl trapped in a traditional Pakistani society. She hates her relatives’ efforts to find her a suitable husband – in fact she has a secret boyfriend, and her doting father has reluctantly agreed to her working outside the home, for a charity that helps victims of domestic violence. Her parents’ financial fortunes are on the decline and a good marriage would rescue the whole family – their pride and their lifestyle.

Meanwhile, in London, Kamil is British-born Pakistani nursing his wounds from previous broken relationships and wondering whether he will ever find love again. He is lacking in self-confidence and there are hints that his life experiences have been damaging. As a man in a western culture, he has much more freedom that Ayesha: he is able to work and make his own choices about girlfriends and living independently. It is fascinating to see how the characters develop as increasingly dangerous obstacles are placed in their way.

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Through her work, Ayesha meets the handsome, wealthy Raza Masood, who falls for her and is determined to marry her – a situation that would solve her parents’ financial worries and restore their good name. But Ayesha has other ideas and is determined to marry her secret boyfriend. Raza is not used to being refused and this sets in train a series of events that will change Ayesha’s life in ways she had never imagined.

Family is very important to both the main characters, and they are keen to keep a balance between their own desires and the kind of traditional life that their parents and society expect. Kamil’s parents have already gone some way to modernising, so for him the path is easier than it is for Ayesha – especially because she is a woman and therefore almost by definition of lesser status in that society.

Initially I found the characters’ concerns a bit trivial – they appeared rather self-centred. Soon it became apparent just how their lives were affected by the need to keep up appearances and act in certain ways, and this made the story more interesting. The author ramps up the jeopardy throughout the book and before you know it, they are facing life-changing and even life-threatening situations.

In summary, Someone Like Her didn’t seem promising at the outset but it was definitely worth persevering. It is far more than a simple romantic tale, and it raises some uncomfortable questions about how the way we treat our life partners. My only gripe is that it could do with a title that reflects this.

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Sue for the TripFiction Team

Follow our reviewer Sue on Twitter @suekelsoryan and IG @SueKelsoRyan

Follow Awais on Twitter @AwaisKhanAuthor and IG: AwaisKhanAuthor

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