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24 April 2017

Review: 'The Other Half of Happiness' by Ayisha Malik (2017)

Sofia Khan is just married. But no-one told her life was going to be this way . . .

Her living situation is in dire straits, her husband Conall is distant, and his annoyingly attractive colleague is ringing all sorts of alarm bells.

When her mother forces them into a belated wedding ceremony (elopement: you can run, but you can't hide), Sofia wonders if it might be a chance to bring them together. But when it forces Conall to confess his darkest secret, it might just tear them apart.

When I found a paperback review copy of Ayisha Malik’s on my doorstep several weeks ago, I immediately recognised the name of the author. In 2015 I was asked to read and review her debut novel ‘Sofia Khan Is not Obliged’, which I really quite enjoyed (click here to read my review). At the start of April, the sequel was released by publisher Twenty7 and I was really happy to see the publisher had kept me in mind with the review copy I received. The book has a lovely cover which fits Spring really well, if you ask me, and I couldn’t help but smile every time I took the book out of my bag. However, it’s also important to see what was inside of that lovely outside, though, so be sure to scroll further down to check out my opinion on the book!

**Please be advised this review will contain spoilers for readers who are still planning to read Ayisha’s Malik novel ‘Sofia Khan Is not Obliged’, to which this new title is the sequel**

When Sofia Khan married Conall, her Irish next-door neighbour she couldn’t help but fall in love with, she had no idea what to expect of marriage. However, reality definitely does not fit the hopes she had for life as a married woman. Conall is more focused on finishing his documentary, which requires a lot of travelling and spending time with his attractive female colleague, and Sofia’s family is constantly minding her business. When she is asked to write her second book, this one about her experiences of marriage, she is keen to take on this next challenge, especially since her new editor thinks it will be a success. But what happens when Sofia discovers Conall has been hiding something from her, something quite big, something that could change their entire lives, and especially their marriage…?

I really liked how author Ayisha Malik seemed to pick things up where her debut novel ‘Sofia Khan Is not Obliged’ ended; after just the first chapter I had once again become a part of protagonist Sofia’s life, and I loved stepping back into her world, populated by the familiar faces of her friends and family. There’s also the same comfortable and well-paced writing style and form of the book, which is written in relatively short chapters/diary entries, spread over the four seasons. Because of this I also highly recommend reading the other book first, before picking this one up. While this novel can be read as a stand-alone, it really will influence your reading experience if you’re not yet familiar with these characters and what they’ve been through together, and Ayisha Malik’s debut novel is worth picking up.

I was quite surprised by the direction of the story; I was surprised by Connall’s secret and how this influenced the rest of the characters and the plotline of the book, and I was especially surprised by the ending of the novel, which I have to admit I wasn’t a big fan of. However, I don’t want to give too much away in this review, because I can imagine other readers might actually really enjoy how this was written and worked out. I understand the comparison that is being made to Bridget Jones, but at the same time I also feel Ayisha Malik deserves to not be labelled like that; this book is something fresh and new, and deserves to be read like that as well. All in all, I found ‘The Other Half of Happiness’ to be a compelling modern-day read with some fascinating characters and mixing of cultures at its core; a promising new voice within women’s fiction and a read certainly worth checking out.
For more information about this book: / / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

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