Matthew ...............COLIN FIRTH
Mme. Rosa............BELLA ENAHORO
Talking Drum........RAKIE AYOLA
Bitter Leaf.............ELLEN THOMAS
Reverend Fola.....ARIYON BAKARE
Mama Fola...........JOY ELIAS-RILWAN
Papa Fola.............THOMAS BAPTISTE
Old Uncle.............WILLIE JONAH
Chen.....................HO YI WONG
Dr Ade.................HAKIM KAE KAZIM
We are introduced to Nimi da Silva at the Church of the Anglican Ascension. Women in bright traditional African dress flutter around like birds of paradise discussing the latest gossip as they stand in pecking order of head-ties. Towards the front, under the pulpit are the noble head-ties, silken and luxurious; at the back, simple cotton prints and more animated conversation. Nimi enters the church with her seven-year old son, Sammy and heads towards the back, nervously adjusting her humble scarf - the clear sign of her shameful unmarried status.
Excitement heralds the arrival of the new preacher, the Reverend Fola Kayode - far too good-looking to be a Reverend and very eligible indeed. Sammy is chosen for the noble task of taking the offerings up the altar and spills the stew over the Reverend and everyone around him. The Reverend is angry but not as angry as he could have been because he has noticed the beautiful Nimi da Silva.
In London, the urbane and adulterous comic book writer, Matthew Field
has a heart attack whilst making love to a colleague's wife. Waking
up in hospital, he decides that perhaps a break is in order - after all,
the woman's husband is a high profile public figure and it seems best all
round for him to disappear. The south of France seems as good a place
as any. Little does he know that this decision will disrupt his life
and wound his heart far beyond the physical pain he is currently experiencing.
|Young Sammy is the catalyst that brings Matthew Field and Nimi da Silva together. He is at school and as usual, telling far fetched stories based on his beloved comic book hero, Saracen. His friends are enthralled and hang onto every word, all except one who challenges Sammy's stories. On the way home from school that day, Sammy gets himself into a fix with one of his stories. He pretends to live in a huge villa, the Villa Eden, which they happen to pass in the car on the way home. He bravely walks up the driveway and the gates swing shut behind him. Trapped behind the gates of the imposing residence, he therefore has to go inside and there he meets Matthew Field. It takes affirmative answers to just 3 questions for Sammy to decide that this is the man that must marry his mother: "Are you brave?", "Are you honest?" and "Are you romantic?"|
|The women of Rue Bonaparte and in particular, Nimi's mother Nene however,
have other plans. Having noted the interest Reverend Fola has shown
in Nimi, they have congregated in Madame Rosa's parlour and are plotting
to make a match with or without Nimi's approval.
Sammy and Matthew Field have now become firm friends and the latter receives a visit from his adoring young companion almost every day. Sammy has confused Matthew with his comic book hero Saracen and having coached Matthew on the art of wooing his mother, he decides it is finally time for the two to meet and where better than at the Church of the Anglican Ascension.
Matthew walks through the doors of the church with Sammy and is greeted by a sea of curious eyes and an awkward silence at the arrival of this relaxed, attractive white man. Nimi runs over to her son and looks up at the stranger. At the same moment, Matthew looks over at her and as he meets a pair of big beautiful eyes, his composure deserts him.
Nimi is upset, this English foreigner has further lowered her standing amongst the women of her community. Matthew, oblivious to the impact of his actions offers Nimi his phone number under the guise of wanting to make amends for his part in her discomfort. She is a lot more beautiful than Sammy had led him to believe.
The Reverend Fola who is also far from immune to Nimi's charms is not pleased at the competition and tries to ban Sammy from seeing Matthew again. That was his first mistake. Highhandedness is certainly not the way to Nimi da Silva's heart.
Matthew's interest is definitely piqued and when, as he expected, Nimi
does not contact him, he plots with Sammy to get his mother to visit
the Villa Eden. Knowing Nimi loves plants, Matthew Field visits her
place of work, a small landscape design company and hires them to work
on his gardens, insisting on Nimi for the job. She is incensed at
his audacity but has to go along with it as her boss has no plans to lose
such a lucrative contract. Grudgingly, she agrees and a truce is
|As he knew she would, Nimi falls in love with the beautiful but unkempt
gardens of Villa Eden and begins work, visiting on a regular basis thus
providing Matthew with ample opportunities to try and seduce her.
Her relationship with Matthew is certainly antagonistic. Their lifestyles
couldn't be further apart. Nimi believes in loyalty, a sense of community,
self sacrifice. Matthew has never really thought about anyone but
himself and his needs. But he is strangely attracted to Nimi's qualities
and Nimi likewise is drawn to him in spite of herself.
Meanwhile, plans in Rue Bonaparte are progressing at a rapid pace.
Nimi visits the house of Reverend Fola to be assessed by his formidable
mother, Mama Fola and although she disapproves, the Reverend has set his
heart on Nimi and the traditional formalities take place. The men
of the two households betroth the two.
|Nimi's burgeoning friendship with Matthew is affecting the lives of everyone around them. Tongues are wagging. Her constant visits to the Villa Eden have been observed and Mama Fola is very suspicious. Nene tries to reason with her daughter but meets with rebellion. Matthew's wife Jenny appears on the scene alerted to the fact that this might be a little more than one of Matthew's usual indiscretions. They have an open relationship but she is not prepared to lose him. And Sammy whose idea it had been to bring the two together suddenly resents this rival to his mother's affections.|
|Used to casual flings, the responsibility of a woman and her child
is more than Matthew had counted on and is not something he is entirely
sure he wants. He is simply not prepared for that level of
commitment. Nimi accepts this, but for her it is all or nothing and
Matthew is just one last fling before she settles down to respectability
with the Reverend. Matthew's world is too alien to her.
It takes a fatal accident that almost gets Sammy killed in a last ditch attempt to bring with mother together with Matthew again, before their loves conquers all.
|Available 6 March 2000
£53.59 [pre-order price]
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