Monica Ali's novel, Brick Lane, is based on the story of Nazeen, a sixteen-year old Bangladeshi woman who is married off to a man more than twice her age. They live in a poor immigrant sector of London where her husband Chanu has already established himself. Almost imprisoned in their small flat, she spends her lonely hours staring from her window at a fat woman full of tattoos who sits on her balcony all day smoking and drinking beer. When Chanu gets home from work, she switches to her domestic roll of cooking his meals, trimming his corns, and cutting his nose hair. The tumultuous London world she finds is a far cry from the passive country life she left in Bangladesh, but bit by bit she ventures out on the streets to mix with the other immigrant women.
The story spans about fifteen years where we see her become more self-reliant as a mother and a worker in the clothes trade. Letters from her sister back home make up a good part of the novel, but sometimes upstage the flow of the story.
This is an interesting view of the immigrant woman's experience and her journey of self discovery.