In a year when our news is dominated by political figures vying for leadership by making horrible accusations against each other while screaming and yelling, I found this book about an American secretary thrust into a leadership position quite refreshing.
Peggy is an American secretary originally from Ghana. After the death of her uncle, the chief of her village, Peggy is called upon to become the first female king of her village. She travels to Ghana for her coronation and begins to see the decay that has taken place because of neglect and political corruption that began during her uncle’s reign.
Peggy’s shows great courage and fortitude when faced with the fact that she has been chosen for leadership based on underhanded reasons, and I admired her tactful strength as a leader. I also greatly enjoyed learning more about Ghana and the culture of that region.
The prose is lovely and the descriptions reminded me of Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. For example, upon arriving in Africa, the power goes out. The author writes, "The electricity had gone off about an hour earlier, and Peggy wondered how long Cousin Comfort's starched robes and head wrap edged with gold lace would stay crisp, how long her black wig would remain perfectly coiffed, how long her rouge would stay perched on her wide mahogany cheekbones before it slowly glided downward and landed somewhere between her jaw and her chin."
This image of starched robes slowly melting into a literal hot mess is a vivid one, but more than that the voice and style of writing is different from terse prose typically used in autobiographies. Culturally, the people of Ghana are not direct in their communication style. I found the writing here to be an authentic representation of the way in which the Ghanaians speak and relate to one another.
I loved this book. There are some themes of American preeminence, and the belief that American styles of leadership and communication are better than those in other countries. However, the biography primarily focuses on female empowerment and the challenges of negotiating power when family is involved.
This novel is filled with colorful characters, and I fully recommend reading it.
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