A Small Fortune by Rosie Dastgir is a novel with a simple plot. The debut author manages to transport us literally to the Asian neighbourhoods of North England. During my visits to UK I have stayed with Indian and Sri Lankan friends in London; reading in the book about the lives of Pakistani families their beliefs and struggle to fit in with the English society was new & an interesting read to me.
The book’s protagonist is Harris (real name Haaris), a dutiful Pakistani Muslim who has settled in UK for many years. We get to follow Harris after his recent divorce from his British wife, he gets a “small fortune” as divorce settlement – the story is how multiple people eye the money, a good plot that could’ve been exploited better. Harris loves his daughter Alia, a medical student who is living independently in London away from his father and has a boyfriend – something that her father finds difficult to accept but luckily he doesn’t curtail her behaviour in any way.
Harris loves being a benevolent person helping his extended family of cousins – Nawaz who takes care of Harris’ corner store, Khalid Ali and his wife Nasreen who live in outskirts of Lahore, and Khalid’s son Rashid who is in London working in real estate. We get to see parts of life of each of them throughout the book. I liked the character of Dr.Farrah, a widow who is independent and speak her mind freely about all the items that Harris hesitates on.
There are no real twists or turns making the book a little drag, but the thing that made me finish the book was the apparent effort by the author in her detailed description of places in England and lives of Pakistani Muslims living in UK.