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Book review: When Ali Met Honour

Finding a good romance without the typical chick-lit cliché is no easy feat. While it's nice to get a woman's perspective on things, what we really want to know about in stories (and generally a lot of things in life) is 'yes but what is really going on in the man's brain.'

A mystery usually, but not in the case of the newly published novel When Ali Met Honour by Ruth Ahmed. Except, Ruth doesn't actually exist. she is a pseudonym shared by author and friends Dimmi Khan and Anstey Spraggan who have joined forces to write a contemporary, epic love story. The book follows two people from very different backgrounds who fall in love while they are at university then decide to spend the rest of their lives together...all would be well if religion wasn't such a hindrance: Ali is Muslim and Honour is an atheist.

The story swaps between both their versions of the same events from the day they meet, until the end of the book, Dimmi has written Ali's chapters giving the male perspective of a Northern Pakistani lad, while Anstey takes on the viewpoint of Honour, the English rose from Kent.

With its engaging style and detailed observations, When Ali Met Honour is a book that's easy to read, and draws you in from the beginning. Both authors write their sides of the story with passion and emotion and it's not long before you see Ali and Honour as real people who you care about.

But it's not just romance and cultural clashes that the book deals with, the experience of what it's like to grow up in Britain today is rooted in the heart of the story. As Ali and Honour's relationship develops, the world around them is changing - how their families live their lives, things that happen in their local communities and the affects of important incidents such as 9/11 and 7/7, all of which they experience together.

One of the most interest observations in the book is how their families react to discovering their relationship. The traditional Pakistani conservative family is juxtaposed against the more liberal English upbringing, and both are given equal weighting. As the story develops and the characters get older there is a real sense of being a fly on the wall in these people's lives and it's hard to detach from them when the story concludes.

Original, fresh and full of hope, this is a book that captures what it is like to be in a multi-cultural relationship today and will give people of tomorrow, a satisfying flavour of what life once was.

When Ali Met Honour is published by Dahlia Publishing, priced £10.

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