Customer Reviews for

Brick Lane

Average Rating 3.5
( 56 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(13)

4 Star

(14)

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(15)

2 Star

(10)

1 Star

(4)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

let's you live a different life ... from the comfort of your own

I'm only halfway through this book but I am completely engrossed and unlikely to be let down because ... Monica Ali is a wonderful writer. So far what I've read about Nazhneen and her sister, husband, children, neighbours, relatives, and prospective lover, makes me thi...
I'm only halfway through this book but I am completely engrossed and unlikely to be let down because ... Monica Ali is a wonderful writer. So far what I've read about Nazhneen and her sister, husband, children, neighbours, relatives, and prospective lover, makes me think that the news tells us what happens in the world, history tells us how events happened, but novels like Brick Lane can show us WHY human beings do what they do within the constraints of their circumstance, and this is the most illuminating for understanding and appreciating others.

posted by Anonymous on April 22, 2007

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

It was just ok

While the story had potential it lost my interest midway through.

posted by 8106052 on April 15, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2007

    let's you live a different life ... from the comfort of your own

    I'm only halfway through this book but I am completely engrossed and unlikely to be let down because ... Monica Ali is a wonderful writer. So far what I've read about Nazhneen and her sister, husband, children, neighbours, relatives, and prospective lover, makes me think that the news tells us what happens in the world, history tells us how events happened, but novels like Brick Lane can show us WHY human beings do what they do within the constraints of their circumstance, and this is the most illuminating for understanding and appreciating others.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The simple story ...

    This was the first book that I read by Ms. Ali and she instantly became one of my favorite authors. I love to read and learn about different cultures and countries. Ms. Ali did not let me down. From her descriptive prose, I have been able to create an image of Bangladesh (and later London) - one that feels very real, including the sights, smells, dusty roads, etc.. As the characters developed, we were given glimpses into Bangladeshi and Muslim beliefs along with the Bengali people. It presented a nice introduction for the sheltered American. The story was simple: girl enters into arranged marriage, leaves her family behind, becomes the submissive partner, realizes her own self worth and finally stands on her own. Unlike some readers, I found the book to be a quick and enjoyable read. I recommend to those interested in immigrant life and those wishing to expose themselves to different cultures.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 22, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The story of a different life

    For those of us who grew up as part of a Western society and have never known anything else, Brick Lane tells the story of a woman who must reconcile living in Western society with her own cultural beliefs. Nazneen is not representative of a whole country, as some have protested, but she is representative of women who come from an isolated area and who learn to live in a culture that is very different from the one in which they grew up. Brick Lane is a story not just of Nazneen, who comes to London from Bangladesh with her husband, but also that of her sister Hasina, who remains in Bangladesh. The contrast between the women's lives highlights the role of Fate in Nazneen's decision-making process; Hasina is defiant, choosing her own path through life, while Nazneen accepts changes in her life as part of the path chosen for her. As the novel progresses, Nazneen comes to challenge this belief and it is Nazneen's growth as a woman, wife, and mother that drives this novel.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2007

    A year later...

    I read this entire book minus the last 20 pages approximately a year ago. It was probably the most dreadful thing to have lost the book completely when I was so engrossed in the plot... But after reading some of the other reviews, I felt the need to share my emotion and sentiments that I felt so strongly while reading this book that I still remember it a year later. The transformation that occurs in this book towards the ending was beautiful. The formation of the Bengal Tigers, the need for the community to come together, the debates and the social tension was so real. The conflict between identifying with your race and your religion and the country you were born in is true. This is the first book I have ever read that accurately portrays some of the many emotions that I felt as a South Asian Muslim Woman after Sept. 11th. And as a side note- a letter written in broken English from a woman who may not speak English and probably has little education does not detract from a plot line. It is more real than a letter written with perfect grammar.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 24, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Filled with humor and pathos, lifts the veils we all hide behind

    Filled with humor and pathos, lifts the veils we all hide behind.

    An unspoilt girl from the village, new bride Nazneen is brought to England to live in London’s tower blocks. She stares out now at a very different village, through windows soiled by grime. Her husband finds her “satisfactory” and no one asks what she thinks. Meanwhile Nazneen's sister has married for love back in India, and no one seems to care what she thinks or experiences either.

    Clipping nostril hair and corns for her spouse, cooking meals, learning to live with neighbors who each in their own very different way accommodate to a new world, Nazneen dreams of helping her sister and of staying true to herself. Meanwhile her husband dreams of riches and returning home in state, while he lives in unfulfilled failure.

    Under the skin, whether it be burned away by acid and fire or rendered transparent through the eyes of an author who sees what lies beneath, we’re all of us the same. Debates on Brick Lane as America’s towers fall aren’t so different from elsewhere in London, even if the debaters are mostly Muslim. Brick Lane’s defeats as drug money flows, Brick Lane’s lonely women at their sewing machines, and Brick Lane’s disaffected youth all come to life… The tattoo woman hides her skin under pictures till the weight is too great, and Nazneen hides her soul under images of Fate. When Nazneen finally wakes to a lover’s touch, will she be anything more than an unspoilt village girl after all these years?

    Filled with bitingly honest humor and searing pathos, Monica Ali’s Brick Lane describes not only the immigrant experience, but also the belated coming of age of individuals and society, the lies we hide behind like colored tattoos, and the many layers that make up truth. A long, powerful, enthralling novel with a pleasing strength in its ending, this is a tale of culture with as message of self-determination and a musical score that will keep you longing for more.



    Disclosure: I borrowed a copy from a friend during my visit to England.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2012

    It was just ok

    While the story had potential it lost my interest midway through.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    Great

    Great

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2008

    Author should have 'trimmed the fat'

    This book has a great story line. I enjoyed the way the characters developed and matured. I thought the author did an excellent job of sharing the lives of Bengali people, Muslims, and the immigrant experience. I disagree with the criticism that she made Bengali people 'look stupid', and I feel this is an extremely harsh and overly sensitive criticism. I was also not bothered by the fact that she chose to not have the letters written in standardized English. In fact, when you think about it, it makes sense. The sister clearly did not have a significant amount of formal education. I really enjoyed the plot, and I can understand why this book won a lot of awards. My criticism is that the book is too long. The author could have cut out a lot of unneccesary details. After awhile, I actually found myself skipping pages and speed reading. This book could have been cut by at least a quarter. The end of the book makes up for this flaw. I was very pleased with the character's growth and I feel she is an inspiration to all women. A part of womanhood is learning to find your voice, self realization, and learning to stand on your own. For this reason alone, I recommend this book so you can witness her journey. Good book, but it would have been great if the author had 'trimmed the fat'.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2007

    Completely Over Rated

    The book is really well written, however that doesn't account for the storyline. This book is HIGHLY OVERRATED! I've been reading for sometime that a lot of Bangadeshi people were unhappy with the book because it made them out to be ignorant amongst other things. After reading the book I can see exactly where they are coming from. Honestly, I find the letters between the main character and her sister Hasina to be rather pointless to the development of the story. And a lot of the story could have been shortened by at least 100 pages. There is a lot of useless information in the book, that could have been thrown towards other character developments and storylines. The gist of the story and what it's really all about, whirls at you rather quickly in the last 50 pages if so much. That's almost 350 pages that were rather pointless and could have been snarked into 150-200 at the most. And YES, it does make the Bengali people out to be idiotic, snivilling, ignorant fools. But that's the same with all races...you get them everywhere....just this book seems to emulate it for some reason. I wonder why, a person who is Bengali as Monica Ali is, would write a book, that seemingly denounces her heritage, culture and religion?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2006

    Well written, but gaps in storyline

    Considering the acclaim this book received, I expected alot from it. The story was interesting but lacked drive and I feel like certain characters behaved unlike themselves. There was no pull between Nazneed and Karim, no drive to pull them into an affair. Could've been a lot better.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2005

    A fascinating story

    Brick Lane is an amazing story of Nazneen, a Bangladeshi female immigrant who moved to a Bangladesh community in London as a young woman and wife of an old man. Through her, the author successfully captured the Bengali traditions and the clash their contradictions upon the Islamic religion. The misconceptions Bengalis and many other Islamic people have vis-à-vis their religion and culture incompatibilities is vividly portrayed in this book. Hindu practices, traditions and culture are intertwined with Islam to give it a different blend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2005

    it is okay but not great

    when i first started this book i thought i was about to read a true experience of a conservative immigrant family and the social,cultural and financial troubles they face in a foreign country.well that was properly portrayed by some characters in the book like chanu who was not appreciated by his family and society being framed as the stereotypical and simple bengali man . i also liked karim and shahana's search for their true identity shahana rejecting it dreading to go back to her home country and karim embracing it as evident by forming 'The bengal tigers' and an unexplained relationship with an ordinary older nazneen.But the book became boring in the middle and the idea of nazneen deciding her fate and choosing her path for the first time was superfical and sad.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2004

    Captivating!

    Brick Lane is a timely and captivating book. It's about two Muslim sisters. Nazneen, the main character, goes to London for a traditional, arranged marriage. Her sister, Hasina, stays in Bangladesh. Ali uses the sisters' lives to compare and contrast the different ways Muslim women are forced to live: The constraints are like an invisible burkah. Ali writes about 9/11 and its effect on Muslims. This broadens the reader and calls for compassion. Fiction can tell truth more than non-fiction, because it can get under your armor and make you feel empathy for people who live differently. During this post 9/11 period, when people are gripped by fear and judgment, war and terrorism, this is very important gift to embrace.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2004

    alive and breathing

    It is just inconceivable to me that the characters in Brick Lane are not living, breathing human beings out there, somewhere in the world. I can conjure up very vivid mental images of these charcters and by the end of the novel felt as though I knew them personally. What an interesting and elegantly simple story with colorful and unique characters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2004

    nothing new in this immigrant experience

    I was on page 220 and nothing of consequence had happened in this book. Repetive, the characters were not interesting or revealing. The story was predictable and I was hoping the whole time that something would surprise me. The writing is unspiring and standard, the story plods along. She describes the plot clearly the first 75 pages and then the story continues to unfold into boring details. I only finished it because I had book club.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 18, 2014

    A good read!!

    This is a good book. At first I found it as a slower starter, but once into the story it did hold my interest. I would recommend this book to anyone who can take a slow starter. It is really good.

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  • Posted June 6, 2009

    horrible

    cannot believe this was published. the plot had potential, but the writing was disjointed. gave up.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2009

    Interesting Story

    I read this for a book club. I found it to be an interesting story with a good perspective, told from the female protagonists point of view. I was able to put it down but always got drawn in again when I picked it up. Characters are well developed and the plot flows well...I thought it was intruiging and a good book club novel as it can spark a lot of conversation regarding arranged weddings, the submissive role of women in some cultures, etc.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2007

    A reviewer

    The book is well observed, full of wonderful imagery and vivid characterisations. It is very moving. It doesn't comdemn Bangladesh culture, it in fact shows a lot of the beauty of Bangladeshi beliefs and culture. At the end of the day it follows the lives of a few families. People who read the book know not to generalise to the whole of Bangladesh.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2007

    A slow, boring, dreadful book

    This summer, I had to read Brick Lane for a school assignment. After reading the back of the book and seeing that it was critically acclaimed, I thought that it couldn't be too bad. However, I was wrong. First off, this book is poorly written. At times, it jumps all over the place and you can't even figure out what is going on. The book just plods along until you finally reach the end. Brick Lane is also very repetitive. It seems like the same exact events occur in every chapter! One of my biggest complaints were the letters written by the main character's sister. Because they were so poorly written and gramatically incorrect, the letters were almost impossible to read. I do not recommend Brick Lane to anyone. I enjoy reading and do not hate many books. However, this book was awful and at times I wanted to put it away forever.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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