Another recurring theme revolves around questions of what we consume and what consumes us.
Sometimes a matter of literal feeding, like this dinner-for-four: “The four of them sat at the round glass table, set with raffia place mats and cutlery wrapped in batik napkins. Taiye flitted in and out of the kitchen with tray after tray of dishes to be shared. Rice bejewelled with large pieces of smoked fish, crayfish, and aromatic efirin; gorgeously browned chicken; small balls of mosa; and that obscenely decadent chocolate cake.”
Sometimes a question of appetites and what we crave and what we eschew: “The trouble was that Zora wanted more than Taiye could give. She was hungry for a full meal, but Taiye offered only appetizers…”
The action in Francesca Ekwuyasi’s novel is character-driven rather than plot-driven but, nonetheless, readers are immediately curious as to why relationships are distended and strained. As characters move across time and space, the author serves as a dedicated and authoritative guide.
Transitions are succinct and connections are drawn clearly. Like this one, for instance: “Long before she would go back home to Lagos, before her beehive, before the meals she would make to appease – more truthfully, avoid—her sister, there was a Sunday morning in South London, drowned in the wet sanguinity of spring, when…”
The focus on women’s experiences–in the context of a narrative revolviung around how we are nourished and how we are wasted–feels sharply and enduringly relevant. Francesca Ekwuyasi’s attention-to-detail is evocative and her prioritizing of compassion and empathy secures my interest; I’m eager to read what she writes next.