Published in the Nigerian Tribune 2 Nov, 2010. Page 31 by Adewale Oshodi
A Heart to Mend, a novel recently published by Myne Whitman, is a new addition to the sparsely populated field of Nigerian fiction novels. It is the story of Gladys Eborah, a young girl who has recently moved from Enugu to Lagos in search of work after completing her education. It describes how she meets and falls for the successful, yet emotionally distant Edward Bestman, and the turbulent relationship between them as she struggles to deal with his unwillingness to commit to a relationship.
The novel also has two sub-plots: one which deals with her attempts to build a relationship with the estranged aunt who she stays with in Lagos, and another which reveals a sinister attempt to sabotage Edward’s business empire and ends up creating a huge rift in his relationship with Gladys.
The author immediately engages us in the first chapter by painting a vivid picture of Gladys’ feelings of apprehension on arriving in the busy, bustling city of Lagos. She also quickly sets the stage for the budding romance between Gladys and Edward. Thereafter, she gradually develops the story, and by degrees, we get to see how the relationship between the two protagonists develops. She paints a fuller picture of both characters; we get to see how driven and successful Edward is as she describes his business interests in realistic detail. But we also see conflict in Edward’s mind as he is torn between his desire for Gladys, and the mistrust of people planted in him from earlier experiences of betrayal. Gladys’ evolution from a simple girl new to the city to a young urban professional is also realistically chronicled, as is the turmoil she faces as she is uncertain of Edward’s feelings towards her.
The author also skillfully weaves in the sub plot involving the takeover of Edward’s business interests. It is clear that she has spent a lot of time researching to paint a realistic picture of business practices in the Nigerian financial industry; but what is more compelling is the drama that she conjures up as the identities and motives of the main actors in the takeover become clear, and the relationship between Gladys and Edward is threatened. The other sub plot involving Gladys’ aunt is not as integral to the story, but it does forms an interesting backdrop.
The author has used a writing style that is simple and direct, with lots of descriptive detail. On the one hand, this allows the reader to follow the narrative with ease, while at the same time immersing them in the story; on the other, readers who are more interested in the story rather than the setting may find the overly descriptive nature of the prose a distraction. As for the plot, the story is billed as a romance, so there are no prizes for guessing how the story ends. However, it is the journey, not the destination that entertains in this novel, and the author has done a great job of creating a story of two characters who engage our sympathies and who we find wanting to triumph over the odds that are thrown their way.
The book is widely available for purchase in the United States, Britain and Nigeria. The author also has a blog (www.mynewhitman.com), and is available of Facebook and Twitter.