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A Spell of Good Things by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀


A Spell of Good Things by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀
UK Publication: Feb 2023
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★]

This ARC was provided by Canongate (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

One word review – Ouch

Synopsis from Goodreads: After a government edict cut his father’s job, Eniola’s family has been struggling to survive. His secondary school teachers beat him because of his unpaid fees, and his parents are behind on the rent and cannot pay for his apprenticeship at a tailoring shop. Nevertheless, he strives to make himself useful, folding wrappers and trying to forget about how he’s taunted by schoolmates.

Wuraola, the daughter of the tailoring shop’s most valued customer, is an exhausted young doctor who can barely catch any sleep as she works long hours in a public hospital. After her boyfriend proposes, their relationship accelerates towards marriage even as his darker side is exposed, risking her family’s spell of good things.

Meanwhile, Eniola becomes caught in a tangle of decisions that will bring him into collision with political forces in the city, and harm his family and Wuraola’s in the process. Following the lives of Eniola, Wuraola and their relatives, the novel traces the entwined fates of two families in a Nigerian city, one with all the fortune in the world and one that cannot catch a break.

My Thoughts: Ouch the ending to this one is tough and I would recommend keeping a hanky handy.

Before we get to that ending Adébáyọ̀ explores life in Nigeria and how life is not golden for either those who have everything or those who have nothing. The overall message is life is hard no matter what your circumstances and money is no guarantee against heartbreak.

Through Wuraola we explore life for a successful female doctor. While she may love her job Wuraola is under no illusion about the state of health care in Nigeria.

“We’re well over a hundred million people now, that’s one neurologist to over one million people”

Later on we hear of 2 deaths caused by a lack of antibiotics and quarantine facilities at Wuraola’s hospital, alongside the patients of accidents who will die because the staff cannot get to them in time.

Meanwhile through Eniola we learn about poverty, about being beaten because your parents can’t afford the school fees; of begging at the weekend; of only having one meal a day because that is all you can afford and finally giving in to the temptation of easy money without thinking about what the cost will be.

Who would like this? I would recommend this to anyone who wants to learn more about Nigeria and enjoys an in-depth exploration of family life. I would not recommend this to anyone who needs a happy ending.

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

One Comment Post a comment
  1. I haven’t read this but I’ve had my eye on it as I read her earlier novel Stay With Me which I thought was very good.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 13, 2023

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