Dec 27, 2010

A Heart to Mend by Myne Whitman - A Review




December 2009, Romance
Authorhouse, 250 pages, ISBN 978-1449047504
Available on Amazon.com


Myne Whitman is an author I came across during my (ongoing) epic search for good African literature. She’s Nigerian, and currently based outside Seattle, Washington. I was immediately struck by how engaged she is with her audience on her blog - Myne Whitman Writes, and felt compelled to read more. She is also actively engaged on Twitter (@Myne_Whitman) and Facebook (hint…hint…to other African writers).

Available on Myne’s blog are excerpts of her debut novel, A Heart to Mend which I devoured in one sitting and found myself wanting for more; I was hooked. I went out and bought my own copy of the book, and here are my impressions.

Young and sheltered, Gladys Eborah moves to Lagos in search of work. She moves at the behest of an estranged aunt, who years ago turned her back on the family seemingly because of her distaste for their poverty. Aunt Isioma is eager to help Gladys land a job, and to build a relationship.

As Gladys navigates her way through Lagos, we see her emerge as a competent and independent woman. She’s building a foundation for her career and relationships; one cannot help but cheer for her. She’s a very believable and likeable character, and definitely isn’t a caricature of a dumb village girl gone wild in the big city.

Enter Edward Bestman. Edward is an ambitious and wealthy businessman. He’s immediately attracted to Gladys and pursues her with a single minded goal. He expects Gladys to succumb completely to his charms and at the same time attempts to keep himself emotionally unattached. Edward is haunted by his past, and this makes him a complicated character. Past experience has taught him that most of the women he dates have an ulterior motive and their hedonistic little souls will attempt to suck him dry.

His defence mechanism is to pursue meaningless attachments, in which neither party has expectations for the long-term. This comes into conflict with Gladys’s high moral code. She will not cheapen her affection for Edward nor will she accept his trinkets as her due. She wants to be on equal footing in their relationship which proves difficult given their socio-economic differences and experiences that have shaped their world views. It is difficult but not insurmountable! Gladys is unwavering in her commitment to Edward, even when pushed to the limit. She proves to be a steadying force when needed the most.

Myne does a really good job developing the story. It is neither rushed nor drawn out too long. We are given a first hand look at the lives of ordinary people as they deal with shifting family dynamics, loss, new love, trust and betrayal, and ultimately redemption!

As someone who has never visited Lagos or the surrounding areas, it was refreshing to see vivid descriptions of places frequented by the locals that aren’t your standard fare on the Discovery Channel. It was also nice to look into the workings of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

I really enjoyed this book and can confess to reading it all in one, almost uninterrupted run. My minor quibble overall is that at times the business jargon for the Stock Exchange was a little distracting. I didn’t need all that detail to understand the complexity of Edward’s business. But with that said, it didn’t stop me from reading more and wasn’t a deal breaker.

I recommend A Heart to Mend. I know it’s marketed as a romance novel but it’s much more than that, so please do not let that label act as a deterrent if you're someone who automatically shies away from the genre.

While I wait for her next book to be released, I’ll be reading more book excerpts on her site. Please join me.

2 comments:

This a lovely gift for the season Miss Bwalya, thanks for the links and I will share this too. The feedback on jargon is noted. I appreciate your time and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Myne, thank you for sharing your gift with the world through your writing. As I said in my post, I am very impressed with how interactive you are with readers, you're definitely a trendsetter among African writers. This book as I said was a joy to read.

I am looking forward to reading the final version of "Ghost of the Past".

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