Genre Fiction: contemporary romance
Blurb Deola Banjoko has it all. A wonderful career, an accomplished fiancée and great plans for the future. But as the years pass and Deola fails to become pregnant, the foundations of the wonderful life they have built together begin to crumble, unable to withstand the pressures of life, family and cultural expectations. Recovering from a broken heart, Deola takes up a chance to work in Nigeria. She crosses paths with businessman Femi Da Silva and ends up working as a consultant for his PR Company. She soon learns that Femi has issues of his own, having been widowed ten years before, and tries to fight her attraction to him. Can Deola move beyond the pain of the past and the constrictions of societal pressures and find the unconditional love she is seeking?
Dialogue Well written. Conversational and relaxed though author’s pidgin is a bit shaky.
Themes Childlessness, Family, The Individual vs Society, Death – tragedy, Feminism and Love.
Editing A few errors.
Plot Deola, a 37 year old PR consultant leaves the United Kingdom and travels to Nigeria to escape the pain of a heartbreak from a five year old relationship which went sour because of her inability to conceive a child. She meets Femi, a widower in his early 40s, (actual age undisclosed) who owns and runs a PR firm, on her flight back to Nigeria. He recognises her as the younger sister of his good friend, Rotimi. Circumstances lead to Deola working for Femi’s PR firm on an initial three month contract in Nigeria which was extended and they end up getting involved in more than just a business relationship.
What worked? This is the second book in the Ankara Press series we have reviewed. You may read the first review: A Tailor-made Romance.
This book explores uncomfortable realities we rarely read about in easy romance novels. It shines a spotlight on serious issues faced by Nigerian women including “late” marriage, abusive relationships, infertility and the worth of girl children vs boy children. However, we are spared the usual cliché of a childless woman who is taunted by her spouse and/or his family once Deola leaves the UK. Deola keeps her fertility issues to herself and for the rest of the book until towards the end, only the reader knows how it affects her and how it influences the decisions she makes.
The book also discusses cultural values and how they affect/influence the choices people make. This is poignantly portrayed in Deola’s colleague and flatmate, Funmi’s decision to refuse medical intervention for a medical condition, fibroids because of the fear that the intervention may mean she wouldn’t be able to have children and despite the risk to her life to make this ill-advised choice.
The book focuses on character development. The main characters are well developed and it was easy to connect with both. Femi’s struggles as a single parent raising a daughter were realistically portrayed, he’s a loving father but is unable to find the right balance between parenting and work. During the course of the novel, we see the transition in Deola in the way she learns to deal with her family’s expectations for her to “settle down.” We also see Deola’s views on acceptable behaviour and expectations in relationships, evolve.
The book evoked feelings of anger and disgust at some of the things the women in the story had to endure because of cultural values and expectations. We think this is a sign that the writer wrote a good story as we could connect with the plot and characters.
What didn’t work?
Romance between the main characters takes a bit of a back seat in this novel. The author could have struck a better balance between writing about the main themes and writing a romance between the characters.
The “villain” Amber Gogo, a client of Femi’s PR firm is portrayed as one dimensional. Additionally we don’t get to find out how she discovered personal information about Deola.
Page numbers 280
Publisher Ankara Press
Damage N750 on Okadabooks
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