A Spell of Good Things by Ayobami Adebayo || Book Club
A Spell of good things but I was left searching for the goodness therein.
If you have read Stay With Me, you know Ayobami is an incredible storyteller. I was not going to save her new book for later!
A Spell of good things merged the lives of two families from different social class with Wuraola and Eniola as the protagonists.
The book introduced us to 16-year-old Eniola and the humiliating moment at the newspaper stand with the vendor, one of his father’s creditors.
Eniola went from being a child full of dreams to running errands at a local tailor shop and begging on the street. His life took a turn when his father who was a history teacher got sacked. This state of unemployment threw the middle-class family into poverty. Eniola’s mother picked up different things to sell to provide food for the family. Eniola’s father became rather incapacitated. He was resolute in not giving life another chance. Eniola preserved through this reality and did all he could to keep his head high.
Reflecting in its form and content the Nigerian society, Ayobami exudes the richness of Yoruba language in her book. Characters eat food like akara, boli, pounded yam with efo riro. They speak the indigenous Ijesha and make expressions in pidgin English. They listened to 2face African Queen, sang along to King Sunny Ade’s music, and danced to Yinka Ayefele’s tunes. Celebrations are never complete without chaotic but joyful mornings, relatives hoarding food, and aunties dishing out marriage advice to the younger ones. It doesn’t get more Nigerian than that!
On the other end of the story is Wuraola. She's a 28-year-old young doctor and the golden daughter to socialite wealthy parents who took great pride in her. Wuraola is in a relationship with Kunle, a TV newscaster and the son of an accomplished surgeon and political aspirant. In the face of Kunle's abuse, Wuraola finds means to justify his ill behavior. She later found her voice and called off the engagement with him.
Life is not a fairytale. Poverty doesn't guarantee living a good life nor does money deprive one of worries. “Life was war, a series of battles with the occasional spell of good things.”
The plot thickens when Eniola got into trouble with a local politician “Honourable”. In the same vein, Kunle’s father was contesting with Honourable at the upcoming gubernatorial election. This event binds the lives of Eniola and Wuraola
The novel is an indictment of the political landscape in Nigeria. Corruption is deeply rooted in the system. Politicians like Honourable Fesojaiye embark on lazy projects that have little or no impact on the constituents. He abandons them until he needs their votes four years later. Then, he plans a jamboree where he shares all sorts like vegetable oil, rice, and customized Ankara, and makes empty promises again. Accountability is an alien subject to Nigerian public office holders.
A Spell of Good Things is themed around love, poverty, politics, power, and abuse, amongst others.
It's a sad book. I can't articulate in words the anger I felt particularly towards Eniola’s father, the incessant pressure on Wuraola to get married before 30, and Kunle being an abuser. As it is, I have a beef with Kunle.
I picked up this book eagerly and was excited to see what was inside. However, it's one of those slow reads. If you are not patient enough, you might want to drop it. I dragged the reading a bit too. It gets more interesting as you go on. I promise you, you are in for a ride.
I'll definitely recommend it. Although, I think that the ending was rushed and scribbled into a few paragraphs. I wanted more.
I'll give it a 4/5.