A Love Story that Teaches...

By Idoko Ojabo (May contain spoilers)

‘A Heart to Mend’ is a beautiful romance novel with lots to teach. This novel is not just about a love story as most readers would analyse. This has a lot to do with morals. I might point out African morals and deeply relate them to one of the novel’s protagonists, Gladys Eborah. Gladys, who fell in love with a man at first sight, cheaply accepted a relationship. According to the ethics of an African girl’s modern day, it is expected that Gladys should have played ‘hard-to-get. Living in a country that has its morals melting, it happened the other way round.

In as much as Gladys cheaply dived into a relationship, she thickened her will against sex which became a headache for Edward (her lover). This part of Gladys was indeed a tall standard set and should be a lesson to any young female teenager growing up. In Gladys’ case, it was wise of her embracing kisses but denying sex a chance early in the relationship.

Whitman was able to sketch a typical Nigerian man in a relationship. Edward Bestman seemed more concerned at first about his career and money. It was really selfish of him to think that Gladys was coming into his life to ‘eat his money’. I don’t blame him though because the typical nature of some women who are specialists in sucking a man’s pocket dry.

Whitman who lives outside Nigeria might have lost the touch of a classic Nigerian gossip story that spreads like a wild fire. It was expected that a gossip was going to light up the air when Gladys’ affair started escalating… The news wouldn’t only be a source of worry for her aunt, it would have journeyed a long way and become a source of controversy in Enugu, Gladys hometown. But this didn’t occur in the novel. Instead the story went on sailing rosily.

Whitman’s research in stocks, business and markets added a lovely taste to this novel. This taste doesn’t completely render the novel into a purely romance story although interlaced around the deepest problems that nearly ruined the colourful love affair.

Whitman knew her characters so well. She painted them so well to an extent that they became predictable. I do wonder why a tough-minded Edward, who had the world at his feet, was sort of soft. It was easy for any tough-minded man like Edward to say, ‘I love you’ even if it was a lie, just to establish a one night affair with any lady. It was easy for a tough-minded man like Edward to relieve himself with prostitutes … But Whitman stigmatized her Edward with a weakness which was rare. Whitman’s tough-minded Edward couldn’t double-date neither could he raise a voice against Gladys.

Whitman was once quote saying, ‘I enjoyed myself while writing the novel…’ And so would the reader. It is difficult to put down this novel after starting. Whitman also said it took her a short while (few weeks) to write this novel, putting aside the editing. So also, would the reader want to finish the book in a haste to undress the suspense chronicling to the end.

Chief Okrika and his wife were introduced deep into the novel. They had been Edward’s foster parents. His relationship with the foster parents became sore before he had turned eighteen. This incidence made Edward to spend a year in jail. All this had happened before Edward had met success in life and also Gladys. Edward’s past hunted his business. The iniquity of his foster parents later plotted to destroy Edward’s relationship with Gladys and also the business. As a romance novel will always end, the novel ended happily. Chief Okrika and his wife lost the battle disgracefully. The trouble I calculated here concerns the fact that Chief Okrika had been so intelligent enough to strategise taking over Edward’s business and manipulating falsifications that no judge was capable of ruling against. Why did Chief Okrika become stupid enough not to suspect that his watery conversation with Gladys would be recorded? Why did he have to meet with Gladys openly? Whitman’s pen was doubtful here.

This novel was written in simple smooth sentences that had so much beauty that matched the romance genre. It was very detailed in which I air an opposing view. There were some episodes that didn’t need to appear. The novel is mostly seen from the point of views of either Gladys or Edward although there were some instances where Whitman tried to pull in the third person narrative.

The novel has the ability of filling eyes with tears. It is a story that can carve up personal memories from the past. It can bring laughter to a face unexpectedly and can also make the reader want to smack the characters for acting inappropriately. A ‘Heart to Mend’ portrays a success story of a ‘nobody’ who became somebody. It portrays a good harvest of decency. It stands against the financial frauds and corruption that had poisoned Nigeria long ago.