Christian Fiction? You don’t say. I personally had never read a Christian fiction book before. But, I knew, unequivocally, when I received an email from Abimbola Dare soliciting a book review of her first novel, ‘The Small Print,’ that the answer would be, “yes, yes, yes, yes,” for me.
Dare, just a couple of years ago, was an avid blogger blogging her stories on her blog “Bimbyladsblog.” Lucky me, I stumbled upon her blog and became instantly hooked. Her stories had a way of drawing chuckles and laughters from me as she weaved and inter-weaved all kinds of pulse racing plots together.
My excitement was however short-lived, about two years ago, when Dare stopped writing. She had to take a hiatus because a bigger and more important job came calling, pregnancy and “mommyhood.”
Enter 2011, and here I was with a book that I knew would be nothing short of page turning. Curled on my couch, over a weekend, thoroughly ready to enjoy the book the way one would enjoy his/her favorite meal, it was me, myself and my laptop; as I began reading Dare’s e-book, ‘The Small Print.’
‘The Small Print’ drew a variety of strong emotions from me ranging from sadness to excitement, desires for romantic hookups among some of the characters, and many other diverse emotions.
Filled with a plot that includes legal suspense, crime, romance, immigration law, dishonesty, rage, ambition, jealousy, envy, passion and so much more, ‘The Small Print’ explores the very hurtful things we humans do to each other to get what we want. It depicts a world where selfishness reigns supreme and the end justifies the means.
Starring a multi-cultural cast/characters, ‘The Small Print’ introduces us to Wale. Wale, of Nigerian heritage, is tall, handsome, intelligent and very driven. But, he had one big problem. Wale who was in the United Kingdom (UK), legally, was on the verge of becoming an illegal immigrant once his visa expired. Determined not to return back to Nigeria, he strikes a deal with his White and highly attractive neighbor, Jennifer. The deal was simple. Jennifer, a UK citizen, would marry Wale. In exchange for helping Wale procure valid legal documents (green card), through marriage, Wale would pay her a mutually agreed amount of money. After a specified period and surviving the immigration board in the UK, he would divorce her and would be a free man. This was strictly business, no strings attached, at least he thought, until he inked the deal. . . without reading the small print. The small print in every contract you sign is very important. In fact, it is usually where and how you sign your life away for what might be a great deal on its face. What happens next, for Wale, is simply page turning adventure of a lifetime.
Even more so, Wale’s adventures raises real life issues. Indeed, there are many Nigerians and other immigrant groups who have chosen to remain in the UK, USA and other foreign countries; by any means necessary, including entering sham marriages. For these persons willing to sleep with the devil rather than face deportation, it has, for many, turned out to be the biggest mistakes of their lives.
“Intro to Wale
The moment he stepped into room 415 and saw Jennifer Lennox sitting behind the polished mahogany table, Wale Ademola knew he was a dead man. He shut the glass panelled door behind him with a click and glared. It had to be an illusion. He checked again. Nope. This was for real. She was here. What on earth was his ex wife doing in his office?
“Good morning Wale.” The woman sitting next to Jennifer spoke first. Her name was Coleen something from HR. She’d interviewed him only last year, at the start of his job as a temp administrator. She peered at him. “Is something wrong?
He started to come forward, stumbled and bumped into a stationery cupboard. “Sorry. I… I must have the wrong room. I am here for a promotion interview for the trainee project manager position.” It had to be the wrong room.
Coleen waved a piece of paper at him. “You didn’t get the confirmation email?”
He nodded. His mind swirled with questions and he tried his best to look relaxed. Had Jennifer traced him to London? Or was this a nightmare?
Coleen gave a reassuring smile. “It will be over before you know it.”
My life will be over before you know it. “Uh-huh.”
Jennifer gave nothing away with her expression, and when she glanced at him it was like she was looking right through him. As though he wasn’t even there. She shifted in her seat and the aqueous floral scent of her perfume smacked his nostrils. He coughed, spluttered. He’d given her the fragrance for her twenty- eighth birthday last year… a day before he – should he say left her? He dropped his gaze to the table.
“You look a tad bit uncomfortable,” Coleen said, concern brimming on the edge of her voice. “Take a seat.” She gestured at the only vacant chair in the room.
In front of Jennifer? God forbid bad thing. He sagged into the chair like an invalid. “Thank you.”
Beads of perspiration beneath his armpits prickled. Trouble had landed in his backyard. Jealous enemies from his village in Nigeria had chosen the best time to strike their juju, African black magic. Wale mentally sent a curse in return. Thunder fire them all. Including Jennifer Lennox.
Jennifer tossed a stray lock of curled blond hair away from her face and held out her hand. Obviously, his curse did not work. “Mister Ademola,” she said. “An absolute pleasure to meet you. . . ”- Excerpt from The Small Print
While Wale tries to sort out his immigration issues and reconcile his bargain with the devil, Dare introduces us to more characters who serve to thicken the plot and had me on the edge of my seat. There is the gorgeous but childless Sade married to a wealthy tycoon who is nothing short of abusive. For an educated and wealthy woman in the UK, why does she stick around in an abusive relationship? Dare throws in the reality of a culture (The Nigerian culture) that places tremendous pressure on women to bear children. Sade can simply not be said to be a real woman with her childlessness.
What happens when Sade and Wale’s path cross? If you think you have figured it out, you got it all wrong, which further underscores the strength and beauty of Dare’s penmanship.
While we marinate on Sade, Wale, and Jennifer, Dare introduces us to more characters. There is the seemingly ruthless conman/murderer Myles. Myles, it appears, has an assignment and a target. He, it appears, is to kill Eniola, the wholesome seemingly naïve Christian woman whose reality seems to be devoid of real life. Eniola, a friend of Sade, is studying to be a lawyer. Why is she being targeted by Myles? Does Sade have anything to do with it?
“Intro to Sade
The black, customised Mercedes Maybach cruised to a halt in front of a seven bedroom suburban mansion tucked in the landscaped gardens of a private estate in a picturesque village in Brentwood, Essex. Sade Williams uttered a short prayer of gratitude to God for having survived yet another day and raced out of the car into the marbled foyer of their house. She stopped under the curved entrance archway and scanned the area. Rows of burgundy carpeted stairs leading to the top of the house showed no sign of life. Even though the gold plated banisters glinted with recently applied furniture polish, and an elegant bouquet of fresh white daisies and yellow carnations sat in the black ceramic vase that flanked the stair way pillars, she was certain she could slither in unnoticed. Sade padded across to the carpeted reception room, dumped her bag full of text books on the chaise lounge in the corner and sank into it. She squeezed her eyes shut. Oh God, this is hard. She had made it through the first week, but could she carry this on for three months? What if someone saw her sneaking out of class? What if—?
Sade’s eyes sprang open at the sound of the voice.
“Did not mean to scare you.” Ma, Sade’s cook, leaned on the doorjamb between the hall and the reception room, dabbing at the sweat on her forehead with a napkin. As usual her iron pressed, bleached white uniform stood on her plump body like proud soldiers awaiting medals of honour. Tufts of silvery grey hair jutted out from under her white scarf. . .” – Excerpt from The Small Print
It is a novel full of twists, turns, suspense and one that cleverly explores numerous socio-political and socio-cultural issues with one central and underlying theme and conclusion, God is really the saving grace despite the flaws, scarred past and present mistakes of these characters. The Christian God, as presented by Dare, wipes the slate clean and there is indeed redemption and forgiveness in Jesus.
A must read and a story that will truly resonate with many whether you are a Christian or not.
I particularly appreciate the pragmatism of the novel because it shows Christians are flawed like anyone else. The difference maker, for them, is God’s divine grace and mercy.
Dare’s book is currently available for only $3.00 on Amazon which you can purchase at the following link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005YRQB98 . It will be available in print and published nationwide in Nigeria, soon.
-For more information about Dare, click here.
-Review by Uduak Oduok