**** RECOMMEND ****
Purple : liturgical colour for penance, humility & melancholy.
Hibiscus : exotic blooms that needed nurturing.
And Kambili blooms despite the turbulent forces and oppression of family and politics that make up her exotic environment.
There is so much that could have made this a depressing read; a narrative focused on lives lived under the shadow of a violent, authoritarian, religious fanatic. But it wasn't. The always-present edginess and wariness of the thought-provoking narrative absorbed me completely. It was as if I worried for Kambili and Jaja when I wasn't with them. I was emotionally committed to the characters and their welfare.
Theirs was a life of father-pleasing rote answers, following strict suffocating guidelines, confined and cossetted from the world. The father was such a complex character - a pillar of society, a devoted Catholic, a generous citizen who abhorred corruption ... and a violent, abusive, controlling father and husband.
Maybe, just maybe, not my favourite Adichie. Maybe, just maybe, that is still "Americanah" ... but then again ... maybe not. Except for being brought up a Catholic, I have no idea why this book resonated so strongly. No doubt it is in no small part due to the clarity of the writing style, the depth of the characterisation, the sense of place and time. The simplicity of expression, because it was written from the point of view of 15yo Kimbili, made it all the more poignant.