Osammor’s debut novel follows the life and love of a strong Nigerian woman.
Effua is a foreign correspondent for the British newspaper The Guardian. Her current assignment as an instructor at a three-month seminar for new journalists brings her back home to Lagos, Nigeria. She’s happy to be home but dismayed to learn that her good friend Nkem has separated from her husband. Though Nkem’s motivations seem sound and their own friendship remains solid, Effua is worried about Nkem’s emotional well-being. Nkem can’t conceive children, so when her ex-husband and his new wife announce the impending arrival of a child, Effua’s heart breaks for her friend. But despite her concerns and a busy work schedule, Effua finds herself entertaining romantic thoughts of her own. Norman, a journalist employed by the Nigerian president’s press office, has been pursuing Effua for years and has recently stepped up his game. Though she initially resists his overtures, she soon finds herself spending more and more time with the handsome, intelligent man. Osammor’s book provides a snapshot of a woman’s life in Nigeria. Her use of accented English and her rich descriptions of the food and clothing of Lagos, Ibadan, and the surrounding regions are transporting. She touches on such cultural topics as war, politics, religion, and journalistic ethics, and also describes a traditional wedding in intimate detail. But although Osammor successfully captures everyday moments, the overall narrative drags and wanders. There’s very little conflict or romantic tension to drive the plot forward; instead, the book reads more like a daily journal with anthropological details, and includes errors such as, “this is incredulous.” That said, there are passages of insight and beauty, such as Effua’s observation that Nkem,“through her pain and suffering and unfulfilled longing for motherhood; conceived within her generous self, something that was yet more precious than an offspring.” Yet sentiments such as these are lost in the rambling narrative.
An aimless read, despite occasionally beautiful moments.