A truly African love story, Nothing Comes Close shows us how African women fall in love—cautiously but completely. It is London sometime in the 2000s. Four young women—Lola, Funmi, Temmy, Maureen, and Titi—are caught up in the usual London hustle, doing the career thing and still finding time to look pretty at parties and bars. But their lives aren’t perfect, especially for Lola, who is nursing a broken heart and hanging on to a job—as a financial analyst—that she doesn’t like. At a house party organized by one of the girls, she meets Wole. The attraction is instant, but in her classic Nigerian-girl approach to romance, she is hesitant, always worrying about “losing all sense of caution.” But when unexpected tragedy strikes in the form of a murder, the force of desire heightened by the pain of loss drives Lola into Wole’s arms. From that point, the driving question of the plot becomes: will Wole reward her need for comfort with love or will his dark past destroy their chance for happiness?
That's the gist of the novel, which clearly shows that it has the elements for a perfect romance story—a broken hearted young woman and a guy with a dark secret. But, then, you have to read the novel to see what Popoola does with this classic romance plot and how she takes something very classic and makes it exciting and nicely African. Before I began reading, I was worried that Nothing Comes Close would be a generic romance novel about characters with African names. My worries were certainly dispelled as it became apparent that the characters and their lives were crafted by someone who has an eye for and a sense of how African woman think about love and romance.
The lead female character, Lola, begins the story in first-person, but she doesn’t hold the floor for too long. The second chapter has Wole picking up the story where she left off. This chapter-by-chapter shifts in perspective is one of the most successful aspects of the novel. Each character picks up where the other stopped, so that with each new revelation in the plot, there is a new voice. This narrative quirk works exceedingly well to keep the reader hooked.
If you enjoyed reading Chibundo Onuzo's Spider King's Daughter, you'll like Nothing Comes Close. It is a romance novel, an adorable chick lit, but it also has a touch of thriller and mystery.
(parts of the review culled from my review of the novel for a Nigerian life style and fashion blog.)