Dad of Divas' Reviews: Book Review - Onaedo: The Blacksmith's Daughter

Monday, June 7, 2010

Book Review - Onaedo: The Blacksmith's Daughter

Dr. Ngozi Achebe’s new book The Blacksmith’s Daughter is a tale about two women separated by four hundred years but linked by history.

Welcome to a world of strong women, the dynamic clash of cultures, and the resolution of heart-wrenching turmoil. The Blacksmith’s Daughter is a brilliantly written story about the beginning of slavery in Africa that vividly explains just how difficult it must have been for even the most intelligent and caring of people to reconcile the physical, intellectual, and spiritual differences between the peoples of Europe and those of West Africa and how potential areas of understanding were never developed.

Here is an exquisitely crafted novel that allows you to immerse yourself in a powerful story of the people, places, events and cultures in the 16th century during the age of Portuguese discovery.

In The Blacksmith’s Daughter, Maxine, a modern American woman who is half white and half African, comes across a set of diaries written by a slave in the sixteenth century in her quest to connect with her Nigerian father. She tries to write a book about it.  She uses elements of the discovered diaries in her book and also information she has discovered herself based on ancient stories retold to her by a collaborator. 

The main character in her book, Onaedo, is a young woman from Igboland in West Africa who starts her life in an idyllic town in the heart of West Africa, with her own trials and tribulations as a young, independent minded girl growing up in a traditional society. As she comes of age, she finds herself in the middle of the incendiary events at the beginning of the African slave trade that change the course of history.  

There are poignantly drawn sharp storylines and an unforgettable cast of characters and villains as the story moves to Sao Tome, a tiny sugar plantation island off the coast of West Africa and pulls a curtain back to reveal the life of the colonialists in the 16th century where there are twists and unexpected turns from beginning to end.

To read The Blacksmith’s Daughter is to step into a time machine and travel back to the intersection of African American and European people who come into daily contact and near continuous social conflict.

Dr. Achebe does not simply describe the past-she lovingly recreates it with vivid details about this incredible period in time.

Onaedo – The Blacksmith’s Daughter
By Ngozi Achebe

List $19.95
Trade soft cover 364 pages
ISBN 978-0-9826473-1-8
Published by Mandac-Goldberg Publishing

Available in book stores nationwide and online.  For more information visit

The events depicted in the book are loosely based on a lot of the traditions of the Igbo people of West Africa.  Dr. Achebe has lived in and visited West Africa several times and also made use of several highly regarded historical treatises to develop her research for the book.

“The influence of the Portuguese on the African coast made me curious and fed my desire to find out more. It was a remarkable learning experience to look into the past from the comfort of the present and revisit the intense drama of the upheaval that accompanies the Portuguese slave trade and the horror and devastation that followed it.”

-        Dr. Ngozi Achebe

About the Author

Ngozi Achebe was born in London and raised in Nigeria in a middleclass family; the daughter of Augustine, a civil engineer and Matilda, a nurse. Her uncle is Chinua Achebe, author, Professor at Brown University, and critic, best known for his book Things Fall Apart (1958), which is the most widely read book in modern African literature.

Her early unpublished writings were about the darkness of war and survival having been one of the children that lived through the Biafran war - a catastrophic event that engulfed 1960’s Nigeria and a potent definer of many childhood memories.

She currently lives in Olympia, Washington and is a practicing physician.

My Take on the Book
"Oneado - The Blacksmith's Daughter" by Ngozi Achebe is a powerful and well written novel that makes you truly think about your own life and the struggles that you do or do not have to face. While I have read about the slave trade in the past, this book brings the story of one woman to the present day and allows the reader to identify with her plight.

The book is a testament to determination and overcoming odds as well as never giving up hope. While I have read other African literature, this book stands out as one of the better ones that I have read. The book was engaging and entranced me from start to finish.
If this book sounds like a book you would like for your own collection you can find it on Amazon!

All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by the company.  Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Please refer to this site's Terms of Use  for more information. I have been compensated or given a product free of charge, but that does not impact my views or opinions.


bookworm said...

Great read. Tells a story that about a period that not much is known about. Can't wait for this story to continue. I hope there's a second book.

read more said...

Loved the book. Leaves an abiding appreciation for the Igbo culture and the historical novel. Look forward to Achebe's future endeavors. Enjoyed it very much.