Thread of Gold Beads is a story surrounding the history of present day Republic of Benin, which is located in West Africa, near Nigeria. Taking place in the turn of the 20th century (during and after the French-Dahomey war in 1890), it’s the story of young princess Amelia and her experiences discovering what it means to love deeply, find strength in difficult circumstances, and to live for faith and hope.
I haven’t read much at all in the realm of historical West African literature, so I was intrigued to read this book. I always like to broaden my horizons and learn about the lives of those lived in the past in other countries. The African content is rich in stories passed down from generation to generation about conflicts, conquerors, royalty, and people who have overcome so many odds we couldn’t imagine happening to us. Many times people can forget the vast history of the continent (minus all they read of Egypt) and it seems so important for there to be more educated reading material surrounding it.
Fatoki seems to have been instrumental in introducing a new time and place into the market through a book that is readable for most average readers. I love how the author found her inspiration in stories told by her grandmother, who lived in south-western Nigeria after the family had to flee from Dahomey (present day Benin) during the war. The passing down of stories has gone on successfully for generations in many cultures, but there is always the chance of a next generation letting the history pass on without being told or recorded. That said, I love how Fatoki has taken a family story, researched the area, and wrote her own fiction showcasing a young strong woman who overcomes such adversity.
I hadn’t heard of Dahomey, or Benin, or much history of Nigeria. It was amazing reading about this time and place, as she sprinkled culture and tradition throughout the novel based on her researching and interviews. It is many times easier for people, including me, to learn history through reading a fiction story based on factual times, places, and events. It allows the reader to visually see how people lived, and many times, survived. It makes it more real and I find it easier to relate. I think this would be a great book to utilize to teach young adults about this historical time period.
Since I am not just a reader, I must give an accurate picture for the plethora of followers. As Fatoki pursues her writing, she should focus on drawing in the reader with longer, detailed sentences that make her stories even richer and dimensional. Currently, her sentences are shorter and written as one might talk, in this case, as a juvenile might sound. I would think this book could fit very well in the young adult market. Some readers like to read simpler sentences though and love to get through a story fast. Some, like me, like words and details a bit more savory. I also wanted her dialogue to be a bit more authentic, which means not as stilted or sounding rehearsed. It should be relaxed. I think this is something she could very easily add to her foundation. For a debut novel, she did a wonderful job in bringing her story to the page. Though I feel she has some room to grow as a writer, I am also sure that there are many who would enjoy the book in its current state as well.
Through this book, she records history while also giving the reader a story of a girl who grows in to a woman, finding her faith in God along the way. Her struggle to know herself again, while also finding herself, is admirable. The secrets left behind are also painful at the end, but also true love redeems her. I thought the romantic ending was beautiful and really showed how love can hang on by a thread and never let go.
I’d recommend this book for those readers who wish to be immersed into the history of a princess who exudes love, patience, innocence, strength, and faith. It’s a great book for learning about the culture and history of people and events of West Africa.
THREAD OF GOLD BEADS, Synopsis~
Amelia, daughter of the last independent King of Danhomè, King Gbèhanzin, is the apple of her father’s eye, loved beyond measure by her mother, and overprotected by her siblings. She searches for her place within the palace amidst conspirators and traitors to the Kingdom. Just when Amelia begins to feel at home in her role as a Princess, a well-kept secret shatters the perfect life she knows. Someone else within the palace also knows and does everything to bring the secret to light. A struggle between good and evil ensues causing Amelia to leave all that she knows and loves. She must flee Danhomè with her brother, to south-western Nigeria. In a faraway land, she finds the love of a new family and God. The well-kept secret thought to have been dead and buried, resurrects with the flash of a thread of gold beads. Amelia must fight for her life and what is left of her soul.
Set during the French-Danhomè war of the late 1890s in Benin Republic and early 1900s in Abeokuta and Lagos, South-Western Nigeria, Thread of Gold Beads is a delicate love story, and coming of age of a young girl. It clearly depicts the strength of the human spirit in the face of adversities.
Praise for THREAD OF GOLD BEADS~
“A highly competent contribution to the growing genre of popular historical fiction in Africa” – Sefi Atta, author of A Bit of A Difference, Swallow, Everything Good Will Come. Winner of Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa
“At the heart of Thread of Gold Beads stands Princess Amelia, an intelligent, courageous young woman who loses everything when the 1892 French invasion of Dahomey forces her to seek refuge in South-Western Nigeria. Following a series of unexpected twists, Amelia’s journey mirrors that of her Nigerian-born mother as secrets and betrayals threaten her hard-fought peace of mind. Through a cast of distinct characters, Campbell-Fatoki presents an intriguing coming of age story that captures the majesty of a 19th century African kingdom.”-Yejide Kilanko, author of Daughters Who Walk This Path
Author Nike Campbell-Fatoki, Biography~
Nike Campbell-Fatoki was born in Lvov, Ukraine to Nigerian parents. She spent her formative years in Lagos, Nigeria, listening to stories and folktales told by her maternal Grandparents. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Howard University and a Master of Arts degree in International Development from American University, Washington, DC. Presently, she is a Budget and Finance Manager in the municipal government in the Washington DC area. She is an avid reader. She loves traveling, watching movies and listening to music. She is also the Founder of Eclectic Goodies, a party favors and gifts packaging company. She lives in the Washington DC area with her husband and three sons.
Author Website: www.nikecfatoki.com
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Thread-Gold-Beads-Nike-Campbell-Fatoki/dp/0988193205/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1375617256&sr=8-1&keywords=thread+of+gold+beads
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Thread-Gold-Beads-Nike-Campbell-Fatoki/dp/0988193205/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353952597&sr=8-1
Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/threadofgoldbeadstour
Twitter Hashtag: #GoldBeadsTour