The Amirs live in a small English village and have five children – twins Farah and Bubblee, Fatima, Mae and Jay. Farah, the married one, has created a comfortable life with her cousin from Bangledesh, Mustafa – but now desperately wants to start a family. Bubblee, the creative one, lives in London and has no plans of settling down. Hand model Fatima, the chubby one, feels like she never quite measures up – she’s still even trying to pass her driving test after numerous attempts. Mae, the youngest one, is still at school and loves filming her colourful family and sharing their lives on social media. And Jay, the only son, is off doing his own thing. When Mustafa has a car accident and is left in a coma, a number of the family’s secrets start tumbling out.
This novel - which the Great British Bake Off winner wrote with Sofia Khan is Not Obliged author Ayisha Malik - was a bit of a letdown for me. I was expecting much more flavour about their culture since the blurb describes them as “the only Muslims in the village”. I also didn't get a strong sense of place throughout. The narrative is shared between the sisters but Fatima definitely feels like the main character and could have held the story on her own. The book ended with a few unanswered questions about a character or two but that may be understandable since it’s reportedly the first in a trilogy. Perhaps this was only intended as an entree.
The Great British Bake Off 2015 winner Nadiya Hussain is releasing her debut novel, The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters. The synopsis says: "The four Amir sisters - Fatima, Farah, Bubblee and Mae - are the only young Muslims in the quaint English village of Wyvernage.
On the outside, despite not quite fitting in with their neighbours, the Amirs are happy. But on the inside, each sister is secretly struggling. Fatima is trying to find out who she really is - and after fifteen attempts, finally pass her driving test. Farah is happy being a wife but longs to be a mother. Bubblee is determined to be an artist in London, away from family tradition, and Mae is coping with burgeoning Youtube stardom.
Yet when family tragedy strikes, it brings the Amir sisters closer together and forces them to learn more about life, love, faith and each other than they ever thought possible." The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters is out in January 2017. It was reportedly ghostwritten by Sofia Khan is Not Obliged author Ayisha Malik.