The Son of the House by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia

The Son of the House

Genre Fiction

Blurb “We must do something to pass the time, I thought. Two women in a room, hands and feet tied.”
Kidnapped in Nigeria by a group not unlike Boko Haram, two women, Nwabulu and Julie, relate the stories of the very different lives fate has meted out for them.
When Nwabulu’s father dies, her stepmother sends her off to become a housemaid. For years, she suffers the abuse of employers, a love affair with an employer’s son offering little comfort. Out of their union a son is born, but the young Nwabulu has to give him up, and is bound to suffer in her stepmother’s home again until she can flee, establishing herself as a fashion designer, and finally able to inhabit Julie’s world.
Julie: privileged, educated, and adored by her parents. She has the opportunity to become whomever she desires. But sometimes too much choice can be a dangerous thing, and in Julie’s case it is. At thirty-four she is still unmarried and, for the first time, there is pressure: a burden that will only be lifted with the birth of a son. So determined is Julie for release that she goes as far as a polygamous marriage.
While the two women wait for the ransom to be paid, fate will once again decide the course of their lives.”

Dialogue Well written and believable. In English with smatterings of Igbo.

Themes Change vs Tradition, Abuse, Family, Female Roles, Heartbreak of Betrayal and Deception.  

Editing Well edited.

Plot Julie, a wealthy woman in her seventies and Nwabulu a working class woman in her fifties, are kidnapped by a group of young criminals for ransom. While in captivity, they each share their stories and discover the secret which binds them together.

Mild spoiler alert!

What worked? Everything! Okay, fine… there was something which I thought seemed far-fetched but I can forgive that because the rest of the story was great!

An author whose book we reviewed recently recommended this book amongst several others and boy, I’m so glad I picked this as our final review on the blog this year.

The book explores the very different lives of two women, Julie and Nwabulu, whose lives are more intertwined than they are aware of. I was so invested in the characters and their stories. Cheluchi’s examination of the weight of societal expectations and how it influenced the choices the characters made was spot on. The book is heavy on female roles and touches on the dynamics of master-servant relationships.

This book has everything going for it. I saw a few positive reviews and honestly, they were right. The plot is intriguing, you really don’t know what turn it is going to take. The story telling is compelling, Cheluchi is a natural storyteller. There’s nothing forced about the way the story is narrated and I was glued to the pages once I started. I know I’m gushing but I really don’t want to give too much away with this book. It is best experienced.

One thing I really liked about this book was the exploration of Igbo culture and the use of the language. I’m not Igbo and although, I could not directly translate the words, I understood what they meant within the context in which they were used. This is because Cheluchi explained them seamlessly in a way that didn’t interrupt the flow of the narration.

For a debut book, I’m impressed. This one ticked all the boxes for me.

What didn’t work?

I thought the story about Julie’s son was far-fetched. Too many things had to fall in line for her to pull it off.

I’m nit-picking here regarding the couple of typos I saw. To be fair, to have just a couple of typos in an entire book is no mean feat!

Number of pages 248.

Publisher Penguin Random House South Africa.

Damage $13.40 on Kindle.

Rating 8/10.

The Son of the House is available on Amazon and Kobo.

Have you read the Son of the House? Please share your thoughts the comments section.

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