Samira Abdel-Aziz might be in want of a husband but she’s definitely not in want of suitors, having received a slew of what she calls “doorknock appeals” arranged by her traditional Muslim family. But finding one with actual appeal—one who isn’t too “fundy” or too secular, too stylized (she nicknames an excessively gelled suitor “Manga Boy”) or too frumpy, too judgmental or too indifferent—is quite another matter entirely. Things finally start falling into place after a meet cute with the surprisingly charming Menem, but the road to happiness is still long, winding and stuffed with awkward family dinners, nosy relatives and unexpected jealousy from her friend (and former crush), Hakeem.
Amal Awad’s Courting Samira might be best described as an Australian Muslim Bridget Jones. Like Bridget, Samira is a wry, endearing woman with big dreams of what love should look like (e.g. the final kissing scene in The Princess Bride) but minimal success when it comes to figuring out how to get what she wants. Awad warmly displays the formal propriety of Arab Muslim courtship while still highlighting the humor of it all, along with an amused appreciation of its parallels to the Regency world of Jane Austen. (Let’s face it, if Elizabeth Bennet or Emma Woodhouse magically came to life in our modern world, a doorknock appeal would make a lot more sense to them than Netflix and chill.) However, while the love story Samira experiences may be chaste, it doesn’t feel dated or old-fashioned. Searching for romance is never easy and happiness is never where you expect to find it, but somehow, love will always manage to find a way.