Genre Fiction: Contemporary romance
Blurb “Had the traditionally cute little cherub Cupid existed in African folklore, he would rather use the more authentic catapult to shoot his love arrows! His matchmaking endeavours often succeed to stir romance between the most unsuspecting individuals – co-workers, clients, employers and employees, nodding acquaintances, old lovers or friends. ‘Wine and Water’ by Hannah Onoguwe is a collection of twelve short stories set in Nigeria that explore all these likely or unlikely combinations. A purse gone missing at a high society wedding in Abuja; polite insults exchanged in traffic on a sweltering day in Lagos; a slap delivered at Iya Ibeji’s pepper soup joint in Bauchi; and the indignity of being likened to a call girl in Akwa Ibom. These are only a few of the scenarios that pave the way for attraction and romance in the book. Not waiting for an invitation, Love shows up, often taking everyone involved by surprise. These stories show us that every bit of the journey is important, from the cautiousness of getting to know someone to the bone-deep certainty that they are meant for you. They encourage us to keep believing in Love regardless, and when we’ve found that special someone, to cherish those moments of intimacy, laughter, and quiet contentment.”
Dialogue Well written and believable. The dialogue gives credence to the stories. Includes Nigerian Pidgin and Lingo.
Themes Love; Family; Character; Coming of Age; Friendship and Feminism.
Editing Mostly well edited, a few errors.
Mo You’ll fall in love effortlessly with this collection of short stories. When Lady B suggested this book, I readily agreed because I’d read another of the author’s work, Adesuwa’s Dilemma. But the moment I started reading, I was reluctant to finish it, I didn’t want the book to end. The familiarity of the stories and how love shows up unexpectedly, creeping up on two unsuspecting people is enjoyable. The short stories are perfect as they are, no added exposition needed, the pace and plots fill you with so much and leaves you satisfied.
Plot Wine and Water is a collection of twelve short stories about romance, set in different cities in Nigeria, with apt titles for each story.
In Zaria, Ose informs Yewande that his interest in her is “Purely Platonic.” Read a short excerpt from “Purely Platonic” here. This story is one of Mo’s favourites.
In Uyo, Steven is “Unwrapping” Regina or as Mo puts it, Taming the Shrew. His arrogance is infuriating even though he explains himself…
In Bauchi, not to be browbeaten by society and her mistake, Amina takes on the world one day and one pay cheque at a time in “Baggage to Love,” turning down advances from knight in shining armour, Lawrence. We both loved this story.
In Ibadan, Winifred is reminded that life is “For the Living” as she mulls about falling in love with Frank so soon after her brother’s death.
In Abuja, Ibime refers to himself as a big fool, mumu, mugu, maga but he still wants two-timing Rekiya “One More Time.”
In Jos, Maxwell wants to be more than just “Friends” with Ijeoma.
In Owerri, Anuli’s neighbour, Simon is helping her fix an electrical problem in her flat when a “Live Wire” gets in the way. This was the most humorous story and one of Lady B’s favourites.
In Port-Harcourt, Elizabeth and Victor wonder if love is worth the “Heart Risk,” they are both nursing broken hearts from previous relationships.
In Lagos, Yusuf sings You don hit my car, oyinbo repete when Bolanle hits his car in “Mad Traffic.” Okay fine, it was Tony Tetuila who sang it, Yusuf is too classy for such…
In Ibadan, Rose and Stanley discover they have “Matching Hearts” as he gives her a lift back to school from a party they both attended.
In Ibadan, Jide is “Spellbound” by Njide’s beauty but he has enough finesse to keep it cool and bide his time. This story had the best ending.
In Benin City, Jude patiently notes the “Subtle Changes” in Kate as she comes of age. The author saves the best for last, this is the only story that spans across years. We both loved this story. This song could be a soundtrack to this story — Don’t treat me like a child, I know you want to love me. Just wait for me to grow, and I will love you too.
What worked? Everything worked… nearly. We noticed a plot hole in the final story but we’ll talk about that later. This collection of short stories is beautifully written. The stories draw you in and although you know how it will end; you are still interested enough to see how it plays out. The ending of each story leaves you with your imaginations, we think that’s the best part of the stories.
Hannah weaves love stories around everyday people and events effortlessly. Our heroines are not just damsels in distress (thank God!), neither are the men your usual run-of-the-mill characters. They don’t have everything figured out either. The characters think, feel, speak and act in a believable way. The characters are from all walks of life, have depth and are multidimensional.
Wine and Water is unapologetically Nigerian. Readers are introduced to Nigerian culture, food, lingo and mannerisms but the author strikes a balance which ensures that non-Nigerians can still follow and understand the stories.
This book is worth every kobo.
What didn’t work? There’s an error in the last story, “Subtle Changes,” where Kate’s 6 year old brother is said to be preparing to go to J.S.S. 1 which is secondary school. There’s also a plot hole in the same story around Esther which can’t really be discussed in detail without including spoilers. Did you spot the plot hole when you read it?
Number of pages 383
Publisher Bahati Books
Damage N1,350 on Okadabooks
We are giving away two copies of Wine and Water on Okadabooks. To take part in the giveaway, just indicate that you want to take part in the comments section below. A videoed draw will be done on Thursday, April 19 2018 at 6 pm and the winners announced immediately afterwards.