By Tope Templer Olaiya SOURCE>>>>>
NOT too often, there arises a starry inspiration from the ashes of the gloom and despondency pervading Nigeria. Refreshingly new and different, it serves to lift the spirit, convey a positive message about what could be achieved and brightly proclaim that hope, after all, is not all lost and gone with the fading generation. Such is the remarkable effort of Nkem Akinsoto, who has written her way into limelight with her debut novel, A Heart to Mend, however, under a pseudo name, Myne Whitman.
The Nigerian author, last December, wrote a captivating novel that presents the gripping tale of a young woman finding her feet and how her life intersects with that of the wealthy egoist she meets. This main story line runs through the subplots of a tear-soaked family reunion and high-powered company acquisitions.
A Heart To Mend narrates the relationship between Gladys Eborah and Edward Bestman and offers a unique reading experience. Direct and action packed, the masterful use of emotion and suspense will keep readers totally engrossed and guessing till the end. There are not enough romance novels set in contemporary Nigeria, and this is something the book has sought to redress.
The story is set in modern day Nigeria, at a time of turmoil in the country's financial institutions. It is a right mix that beautifully weaves contemporary Nigeria with her past. Edward is the chief executive of a conglomerate listed on the stock exchange. Gladys finds a job in a foremost oil company. Other characters in the book include industrialists, bankers, stockbrokers and many more.
Several themes run through the plot including illegitimacy, premarital sex, cross-cultural romance and marrying socially upwards. Filled with questions and themes of clashing backgrounds, societal class, premarital sex, family feuds and personal scandals, this book will have you flipping through the pages anxiously.
On the business angle, share price manipulation, margin trading and high-powered business acquisitions form the subplot of the book. The author illustrates the relationship between the characters in a three dimensional light, giving insight to their backgrounds, fears and personal lives.
Sheltered Gladys has spent most of her life in a suburb of Enugu and is brought up in a deprived single parent household after losing her father as a young girl. After finishing her education, she moves to Lagos to seek a job and moves in with an estranged aunt who now wants to be forgiven for all perceived wrongs.
This unexpected gesture by Aunt Isioma leaves Gladys suspicious of her intentions. Gladys suspects Aunt Isioma abandoned them out of disdain for their poverty, and have the uneasy role of the bridge between both families.
With the help of her new friends and lifestyle, Gladys soon becomes a sophisticated young lady as her new friendships and career achievements gradually transition Gladys into an independent young woman.
Soon, she begins to fall for good-looking, super rich but emotionally scarred Edward, who, though physically attracted to her, is emotionally unavailable. As their romance gets heated, events from Edwards past begin to resurface which threaten to destroy their relationship. Edward is very wealthy, but he is haunted by the past of his illegitimate birth and other secrets he will not share.
Caught in the middle of their emotional struggle, Edward learns that unidentified investors are about to take over his company and finds out Gladys may be involved. How Gladys was able to pull this off to ensure their relationship survived the break-up scare and Edward regaining full control over his business is an intriguing fast-paced story that keeps the reader on edge, who finds it difficult keeping the book down until the last page is turned.
A Heart To Mend will bring tears to the eyes and cheers at the end, especially for those who have experienced the search for a career or tumultuous family and emotional relationships. Readers will be pleasantly surprised by the vivid description of Lagos, the Nigerian stock market, and other business intrigues.
The book shows how love, even with all its problems, can transform a person and heal them enough to allow forgiveness in a heart. The best part is how true it shows Nigeria and Nigerians, down to the little idiosyncrasies in our daily life. Furthermore, it painstakingly tried to narrate an everyday living in the boisterous city of Lagos to a foreigner.
The simplicity, clarity and rhythm of the writing will draw the reader deeper into the book feeling what the characters feel. The elements of mystery and suspense allow the characters in the book grow, becoming sync and aware of their surroundings.
It has been proved that the best romantic novels are the ones that go beyond the genre, and this is why Myne Whitman's debut is distinctively different from previous offerings on the subject.
The goes pointedly illustrates that while the main narrative of a romance novel may be the story of love between the main characters, there has to be much more; such as extra plot layers, a strong sense of place, three-dimensional antagonists and secondary characters with their own stories, including a hero and heroine, whose worlds are large and who have other interests beyond just their love for each other. This story is told from the point of view of both major characters.
The book is however punctuated with some few typo and syntax errors. A few spotted examples will suffice: "you're mother is a marvelous woman," on page 25; "did she need some calm," with a full stop, on page 26; "you know it can very easy to get a girl," on page 101; when Edward was on phone with Gladys on page 115, he looked her straight in the eye and said "I have to learn to trust you and your love for me"; and the opening sentence of chapter 12 on page 119, "I didn't know I could sleep with a woman without having sex with them."
Overall, this novel is very entertaining. It brings you back to the realities of life, how fragile love can be and the realizations of trust and fear. Having it written by a Nigerian author is only a plus. It is a reading experience readers will love.