Contemporary British fiction in an African setting featuring smart, strong-willed women dealing with themes of substance – think love, guilt, race, careers, identity and the challenges of clashing cultures – and written in a humorous and accessible style. This sums up Imperfect Arrangements, the latest novel from Frances Mensah Williams, to be released on 6 March to coincide with Ghana Independence Day.
The fascinating and dynamic culture of Accra, Ghana’s capital city, provides the backdrop to this story of the intertwined lives and relationships of three best friends: Theresa, a Black British expat, Maku, and Lyla.
Theresa has gambled everything in leaving London for cosmopolitan Accra with husband Tyler. Feisty Maku is desperate for success – and her dream white wedding to Nortey. Churchgoing Lyla married Kwesi in haste and is fighting her attraction to another man.
Each couple must confront the truth of who they have become and the arrangements they have enabled. Against the backdrop of a shifting culture, each woman must decide what – and who – she is willing to sacrifice for the perfect marriage.
Imperfect Arrangements explores the complex blend of love, ambition, envy and guilt that can nurture – or crush – relationships, especially when set against cultural norms and conflicting expectations.
Described by best-selling British novelist Dorothy Koomson as ‘a brilliantly written novel’, Imperfect Arrangements celebrates the joys of love and sisterhood while shining a light on the multi-faceted nature of relationships, both between friends and romantic partners.
As a Londoner of Ghanaian origin, Mensah Williams has one foot in both cultural camps. An award-winning entrepreneur, Executive Coach, Editor and recent CBE honouree, Mensah Williams is also the author of the From Pasta to Pigfoot series featuring pasta-fanatic Londoner, Faye Bonsu, and her struggles to reconcile her British and African cultural identities.
By setting her novels both in London and in contemporary middle-class Accra, against a backdrop of locations ranging from offices to shopping malls, pristine beaches, night clubs, restaurants and traffic-choked roads, Mensah Williams aims to add some international spice to commercial women’s fiction. At a time when members of the African Diaspora from across the world are being encouraged to explore their roots with initiatives like Ghana’s Year of Return campaign, Mensah Williams’ book reflects the duality of culture identity and heritage.
‘Contemporary African cities offer exciting and diverse localities, people, foods, languages, politics, businesses and cultures.’ says Mensah Williams . ‘These are amazing locations in which to set stories about women who face the same challenges, whether they live in Accra, Lagos or Nairobi or in London, New York or Rio: building careers, dealing with demanding families and crazy friends, surviving cultural expectations and, like all good rom-coms, finding and keeping a good man!
‘British rom-com novels have long been the preserve of non-black authors, but there’s room for stories about women who aren’t Bridget Jones. I believe there’s a huge appetite for diverse stories centred on black and multiracial characters who are equally focused on finding happiness and achieving their own goals. The strong women of colour – the main characters in my novels – navigate multicultural and multiracial worlds and relationships as they grow, develop and do their thing.’ – Frances Mensah Williams CBE