THE PLOT: ‘Dele Weds Destiny’ by Tomi Obaro is women’s fiction about the friendship of three Nigerian women. Zainab, Funmi and Enitan first met at university in Kaduna (northern Nigeria) and, now in their 50’s, they are reuniting at a wedding in Lagos. But despite the outward joy of their reunion, each woman has a secret. Enitan is struggling with a divorce from her Oyinbo man. Zainab is barely coping with her husband’s declining health. And Funmi… Well, Funmi has it all – the fancy house in Lekki, designer clothes and trips abroad – and she means to show it off at the wedding of her daughter, Destiny.
RATING: Told in two timelines (Kaduna in the 1980’s and Lagos in 2015), this book surprised and delighted me in equal measure. Firstly, I loved each of the main characters and appreciated reading about the struggles of older women with grown-up families. Secondly, the plot was so entertaining and moreish – Obaro is a master of knowing how to end a chapter on a cliff-hanger. Thirdly, the setting felt like home. There was something very comforting, familiar and authentic about the Nigeria it depicted. Fair warning – it felt like the plot lost its way at the midpoint and the ending was very anti-climactic. But on balance, it’s four stars from me and I would read Obaro’s future books.
GOOD BITS: This book opened with a bang that got me completely hooked. With alternating chapters from each woman’s perspective, I simply could not put it down. Obviously, this is clever plotting but I think the characterisation of each woman was what had me so invested. I recognised these characters and they felt so believable, I really wanted to dive into their psyche’s. In particular, the fact they were slightly older made me think about my mother and aunties, and it felt like a chance to understand them and their relationships with each other.
NOT SO GOOD BITS: This book lost its way towards the end of the 1980’s section. It’s hard to describe without spoilers but there were missed opportunities for tension between Zainab and Funmi, and things weren’t revealed in the most exciting way. Enitan didn’t really have a role in “past” so chapters in her POV weren’t focussed on her interiority and could’ve been re-purposed for any of them. Honestly, I wanted to fast forward and get back to when they were older. Additionally, the ending was so anti-climactic. I honestly felt like a chapter was missing. Usually, I hate pages and pages of slow resolution in books but the ending to this felt so abrupt, I was left wanting more.
OVERALL: I’d recommend this book to lovers of ‘Wahala’ by Nikki May, ‘So Lucky’ by Dawn O’Porter and ‘Stay With Me’ by Ayobami Adebayo. It’s a fun book with unexpected depths and heart, which was the perfect company while I wasn’t feeling well. With loveable, funny characters and a strong plot, this is a very solid debut.
If you’re in the UK, click the link to order this book and support an independent book shop: https://uk.bookshop.org/a/11336/9781529366822
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