“To talk the Queen ‘s English, I had to forget all the tricks of my mother tongue. For example, the Queen would never say, There was plenty wahala, that girl done use her bottom power to engage my number one son and anyone could see she would end in the bad bush. Instead the Queen must say, My late daughter-in-law used her feminine charms to become engaged to my heir, and one might have forseen it wouldn’t end well.”
Without giving away too much of the plot which the reader is urged not to do, this is the story, set mainly in England, of Little Bee, a 16 year old Nigerian girl and her relationship, both past and present with a young English couple and their son Charlie.
The first chapter, where the reader meets Little Bee for the first time is wonderful – frightening but also full of funny little insights and quotes. I was looking forward to reading the rest of the book.
Little Bee is a delightful character. The problem for me was that there were parts of the plot that I didn’t find at all realistic. How she came to be in the UK and especially at Sarah’s house seemed very far fetched and as this was pivotal to the story, I found it hard to really get involved in the story with this at the back of my mind. Little Bee, wise beyond her years in some ways does have a slightly magical way of looking at things but I think despite the undertones of humour at times, the author is tackling some serious issues through her and we are meant to absolutely believe in the authenticity of her story.
This book was shortlisted for the Costa prize in 2008 and since finishing it, I have read several 5 star reviews and feel quite disappointed that it didn’t quite work for me as it definitely had the potential.