When faced with the prospect of 23 hours’ worth of flight time on a plane with no entertainment system, you can’t blame a girl for turning to trashy chick lit for comfort. That is exactly what I did on my recent travels. The Wedding Countdown is trashy, pretty poorly written ‘romance’ novel littered with factual inaccuracies (Canary Wharf is apparently on the Central Line: P). And although I could tell from the get go that this wasn’t going to be intellectually stimulating literature, I ploughed through it because the subject matter is something I thought would be worth discussing on Rinse.
The story centres around Amelia ‘Mills’ Ali, a modern educated Muslim girl who basically wants it all a fast-paced career, an active social life and of course LOVE and happily ever after. Unfortunately, she also wants to please her somewhat more traditional parents who come from a world where Mum and Dad always know what’s best for their daughter and in this case this means marrying an eligible young man from Pakistan!
Having already delayed the inevitable by going to university, Mills asks her parents to put off marriage plans for another year in order to allow her to pursue an internship in London, after which she’ll settle down with a man of their choosing (and move to Pakistan for her happily ever after!). Mills also decides to use her time in London to capitalise on a loop-hole in this whole arranged marriage system. She is on a mission to find a good, respectable Muslim who respects her values and won’t hold her back but also most importantly her parents will also approve of. As any single girl searching for love finding a bloke you can tolerate is hard enough without bringing the olds into it.
While the story touched on a whole lot of important issues like the challenges of being in interracial/intercultural relationships, chasing bad boys, being jilted at the alter and generally learning how to do deal with pervy guys and cheaters, I do think the author sugar-coated the realities of arranged marriages. I’m not going to give the game away here but let’s just say the happy clappy account doesn’t match up with the stories you read in the newspaper. It’s all a little bit far-fetched.
From my arguably Western, overly Disneyfied outlook on love the whole idea of having your folks choose a bloke for you and only meeting him a few days before you say those all-important vows seems rather grim. And having no idea about one another’s skills in the bedroom…let’s not even go there! I don’t know the reality of it all to be honest with you. Maybe arranged marriage works for some people. I guess if you are failing at dating (like a lot of us avid Tinderers) having Mummy and Daddy intervene before your resigned to life on the shelf doesn’t seem like the worst idea in the world. Hmmm…Still, I’m not convinced.
Despite my negative review of the book, it’s not all bad. There are a few good LOLs in the story and does introduce people to an subject matter that most of us have no experience with. And if you need some light entertainment during a long journey you could do worse (although in terms of shoddy writing it gives 50 shades a run for its money). Regardless, the book still got lots of good reviews on Amazon and its super cheap on Kindle, so that’s something.
Alrighty Rinsers – Share your views on arranged marriages in the comments below. Is it just an archaic form of family interference that needs to be abolished? Or do you think there is something to be said for getting Mum and Dad to do all the hard work on your behalf? Looking forward to hearing what y’all have to say…