The Small Print is a new novel by a Nigerian writer Abimbola Dare (@bimbylads). I have to admit that a few weeks ago before I read the novel, which the author describes as a Christian Fiction, I had not heard about her. It’s one of those books I get on my Kindle through one-click purchase just because they are under a £ and also because the title and name of the author sound interesting. A few pages through the book, I thought you must be joking to get this masterpiece page turner at that price!
The famous phrase from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice about any single man in possession of a good fortune being in want of a wife was the first thing that came to my mind, except that this time around it was the mothers who felt that their daughters of age had to get married and any single man around had to be a candidate.
The novel is full of colorful characters and places that often got me into a burst of hysterical laughter in public. Take Eniola’s persistent mother who ridiculed her daughter’s new White British boyfriend Myles Brown by referring to him as Brown Mice and sarcastically questioning if she was going to call their first child “Purple Cat” ; the name of the church such as “Of Signs & Wonders Pentecostal Double Fire Church” or “the special baby-making miracle handkerchief” you can lay on your pillow at night and sleep upside down if you wanted to get pregnant. My favorite character is probably immigration officer Tunde Dada in his magnanimous English “Don’t be stupendous”, “Elucidate” “stupendous ignoramus”, and most importantly “Allegedly. Endow us with accompanying documentation to attest your incorruptibility” just to mean “confirm your date of birth”.
The events of the novel take place mostly in London, Abuja and Lagos. Most of typical life dilemmas are played out: a childless marriage, interracial relationship, one sided love, marital unfaithfulness, fraud, whether to go back home from Europe, the realities of illegal immigrants and so on.
The constant suspense in the novel is really captivating with the outcome of events totally unpredictable. Descriptions are thorough and somehow I fell I could easily recognize the characters physically. The gradual introduction of how each of the characters are connected is impressive.
In summary this is a story a beautiful lady who gets married to a very wealthy man but they could not have children, and the husband decides to get a baby from a Zimbabwean lover; a born again Nigerian Christian who falls in love with a White British spy against her mother’s opposition; and a young Nigerian man who gets into a contract marriage with a British lady madly in love with him just to obtain his residency. All of these got meshed up together into a complex story.
It’s only at the end of this humorous novel that you realize the author wanted to pass a particular Christian message. According the her, she had to rewrite the story for that purpose. It makes the ending look a bit idealistic and as if the writer started from there.