Monday, February 17, 2014

#BookReview: In Dependence by Sarah Ladipo Manyika

Synopsis:  It is the early-sixties when a young Tayo Ajayi sails to England from Nigeria to take up a scholarship at Oxford University. In this city of dreaming spires, he finds himself among a generation high on visions of a new and better world. The whole world seems ablaze with change: independence at home, the Civil Rights movement and the first tremors of cultural and sexual revolutions.

It is then that Tayo meets Vanessa Richardson, the beautiful daughter of an ex-colonial officer. In Dependence is Tayo and Vanessa's story of a brave but bittersweet love affair. It is the story of two people struggling to find themselves and each other - a story of passion and idealism, courage and betrayal, and the universal desire to fall, madly, deeply, in love

Review: I wish I could have liked this book more than I did.  It was just an okay story line with okay characters.  Tayo's life in Nigeria pre-Oxford was far more interesting than his life in England.  In addition, Tayo's life outside of his relationship with Vanessa was much more interesting than his life with her.

When they first meet, Tayo and Vanessa are drawn to each other, him to her because she's different than women he knows in Nigeria, her to him because she seems to have a fascination with all things from the continent of Africa.  As their relationship progresses, it seems that her love for him is also rooted in antagonizing her conservative, colonialist father.  While she watches other interracial relationships around them implode, she begins to wonder if she is simply something for Tayo to do until he meets a Nigerian woman, as she's witnessed with friends of his.

Called back home to Nigeria, Tayo leaves England with every intention of returning to Vanessa.  Delayed first by his father's illness and then by a military coup, Tayo resigns himself to staying in Nigeria and marrying a local woman.  A chance meeting with Vanessa many years later provides him with an opportunity to rekindle his romance with her, but just like their earlier encounters, it feels stiff and wooden.

I can't really tell if it was the author's intention or perhaps the words she chose to describe the characters and/or put in their mouths, but at no point did I ever feel like the two characters were really in love.  Though the book did a good job of highlighting the civil uprising in Nigeria and capturing the feel of 1960s England, it just wasn't enough to really hold my attention.  I made it through the book, but left it not really caring about the characters or their future.

Published: September 2008
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher, opinions are my own.

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