Book: Influence of a King
Book Reviewer: Anote Ajeluorou; The Guardian, Nigeria
Source: The Guardian Newspaper, Nigeria
Date: 12 June 2016
INTERTWINE OF TWO YOUNG HEARTS ON THE PATH OF FAITH
Titi Horsfall’s fictional narrative, Influence of a King (Deep River Books, Oregon, U.S.; 2015), her second after From an Orphan to a Queen Esther, is the unusual story of two young hearts born in far-flung places, but who would find anchor at a time of momentous world crisis. It is the story of Nigerian’s Kanyam and English boy Chad, also of Nigerian roots, whom fate brings together in the most unusual circumstances and how they find undying love.
But their love rides on the back of a tempest; it is love set against the horrendous backdrop of World War II, with Nigeria still in the throes of colonial rule. How did this magical love happen between the two? How did the path of a poor, Nigerian village girl cross that of an affluent English boy to produce a romance that can only be dreamed of?
This is Horsfall’s masterly narrative that weaves 20th century historical events into the lives of the twosome at a period of uncertainty plaguing the world. Kanyam, born in the creeks of the troubled Niger Delta, suffers persecution and rejection from her own people because of how she looks. She is beautiful beyond words and is regarded as descending from the gods, but a source of unease in the community.
What is worse, she is not the anticipated son her parents expected; she causes her father the loss of his inheritance. Her mother loathes her for it. She is alone in the world except her father whose love for his daughter suffers occasional bouts of laughter and sadness. She is packed off to a mission school at that remote time to escape discrimination from her own people.
Indeed, Kanyam suffers as a girl-child for no fault of hers. Her mother takes her to a house of healing where she is inflicted with all manner of madness peculiar to such houses of horror in the name of exorcism. However, the education she acquires at the mission with Sister Martha and the others eventually redeems her from persecution; it is what would catapult her to her place of destiny and in the arm of love.
On the other hand, Chad is born to a Jewish mother from a wealthy family and a black father. But his mother’s wealthy background becomes the all-important factor that gives him his English identity. It is the period of the 1930s and the world is on the boil; the Great Depression of the 1930s is on in America and the world has just woken to the reality of Hitler’s quest for world domination. Chad is forced to play his part to save his country from annihilation. He joins the British Navy much to his mother’s sorrow and protestation. Her efforts to match-make him with a Jewish girl, Brina, before he goes to war, with the sole aim that he has a child, her grandchild, fails.
Chad goes to war at sea aboard the Royal Navy Ship, Destroyer I, and makes instant impression. While on a mission to retrieve an important object, the Green Baltic, from a cargo ship under attack, he is attacked by a shark and is wounded and loses consciousness until Kanyam’s father drags him ashore in his net in the open sea.
That is how he encounters beautiful Kanyam; she becomes his nurse. When he recovers his strength and sense of bearing, he returns to England through Kari and Port Harcourt. But before he leaves Kanyam’s village, an incident of momentous proportion happens. At a village maiden dance staged in his honour for staying among them for a year turns out a match-making one and he instinctively reaches for Kanyam. Embarrassed, Kanyam is deeply troubled by it and refuses to see him before he leaves for England.
Chad, however, returns to Nigeria as head of a commission of enquiry on some military matters regarding the English officers operating in the Delta region who illegally acquire land and displace Kanyam’s Oputo people, with Kanyam’s uncle, Donga as the arrowhead in his quest to displace his brother, Kanyam’s father, Adoki, from Oputo leadership. Through some quirky events, Chad’s second encounter with Kanyam isn’t pleasant as a Resident Officer, Auckley Garner’s designs on her leaves her vulnerable. After the inquiry, Chad returns to England bitterly disappointed that Kanyam has so easily forgotten him after the failed episode at Oputo during the maiden dance. Sadly, he does not give Kanyam a chance to explain her side of the story.
BUT it is as if the God, which Kanyam and Chad worship, has had their path ordered for them from the beginning of time, as two youngsters seem destined for each other. In spite of this apparent miscalculation on the part of Chad that seems to have put a permanent wedge between them, Kanyam gets a scholarship to study at a university in Scotland. Towards the close of her programme, Chad walks into Kanyam, almost mysteriously, at a lawn while England mourns the death of her king.
Indeed, Kanyam and Chad seem fated to meet aided on by their faith in God, as they keep their hearts open to His direction. Horsfall weaves a Christian religious metaphor into unforgettable narrative that links two lives in far-flung places to connect in unusual way. In Kanyam, Horsfall has created a charming character through whom she portrays the plight of the African girl-child and woman. Although patriarchy is the usual blight of the African woman, Horsfall goes beyond the usual and highlights the life of a young woman whose beauty and uncanny resemblance to her paternal grandmother set her on collision course with her townsfolk, including her own mother who sees her own daughter as the source of her husband’s disinheritance.
But through her also, the local people of Oputo see the benefit of educating the girl-child; through Kanyam, Oputo gets a lawyer to fight on its behalf as British officers threaten to confiscate their land for oil exploration, with the result that war and unrest ensue. Kanyam’s early education, through her father’s foresight, would set precedence for the future in the immense benefits of a girl-child education.
Influence of a King is an ambitious, adventurous novel; a narrative of colonial history, World War II, a lost African grandson accidentally finding his roots, a girl who is an outcast and the uncommon love divinely ordained between them, in an improbable time and space. It is also, and deeply, a story of God’s hand in the affairs of men and how He directs them within the compass of His own making, especially when such men and women align with His divine will; only God’s influence could have brought Kanyam and Chad together in Nigeria and later in London to culminate in marriage.
Horsfall’s novel reads with breathless ease. The range of her subject is glorious and the verisimilitude created is stunning, which is deftly resolved to give this novel a marvelous glow. This is fiction at its heartwarming best.
7TH MAY 2016 BY TITI HORSFALL
Titi Horsfall’s Influence of a King and From an Orphan to a Queen; Esther
Terra Kulture, Lagos State, Nigeria.
Guests from all works of life; lovers of arts and literature, writers, corporate professionals,businessmen and women, the academia, and distinguished members of the press were treated to a unique literary evening on Saturday, March 5, 2016. Venue was strategically chosen – one of Africa’s best arts and culture centre –Terra Kulture.
Organised by the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Lagos State Branch, in conjunction with Terra Kulture, the event was the Book Reading of Titi Horsfall’s novels; Influence of a King and From an Orphan to a Queen; Esther. These novels have launched the author into Nigeria’s creative writers’ conclave.
Opening the event with lyrics specially arranged for the Book Reading, Mr. Precious Omuku; a lecturer with the University of Port Harcourt Music Department and his team, led guests in the rendition of the National anthem. With the tone of the evening laid, guests enjoyed more renditions of sonorous classical music.
The Chair Person of the event, Mrs. Koko Kalango CEO, Rainbow Book Club and Project Manager, Port Harcourt World Book Capital 2014, and a stunt advocate and canvasser of literary works, briefly took the audience through her working journey with Titi Horsfall. According to her, she had worked with Titi Horsfall on the UNESCO World Book Capital Project tagged ‘The Walking Book’. Eulogizing Horsfall’s literary works, Kalango enthused that Horsfall exhibits commitment to her literary crafts, stating that Titi is thorough in her work and always ensured all her literary works are researched based.
In her review of Influence of a King, Kalango stated that on the surface, it is a love story between an aristocratic Chad and a lowly girl, Kanyam from the Niger Delta region who had been rejected by her community. Nonetheless, Kalango asserts that looking deeper; the novel is a story about God the King, His love for men, and who rules in the affairs of men.
Describing both novels as books of power, passion and purpose, Kalango concludes her address by encouraging guests and lovers of literature to read Horsfall’s novels, stating “Horsfall’s works are great reads that I would encourage, at any time!”
Mr. Femi Onileagbon; Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Authors, Lagos State branch extolled the virtues of Titi Horsfall. In his address he described the author, “as a woman who likes to do things right whenever she is involved in something.” Mr. Onileagbon narrates his experience while reading Horsfall’s latest novel, Influence of a King. According to him, the message he got was that everyone has a purpose in life, and until such a purpose is fulfilled, the person would not leave the surface of the earth.
“It doesn’t matter if you are confused about that purpose at the age of 50 or 70. Keep at it, and the purpose will be fulfilled, when God needs the purpose to be fulfilled.” He noted that in Horsfall’s novels, certain Christian tenets are enunciated, without someone ‘preaching at him’.
“Reading From an Orphan to a Queen; Esther or Influence of a King lifts you, opens your mind, and allows you to see things the way you have not seen before!”
Closing his address Mr. Onileagbon encouraged writers to keep writing and ‘put out a book today’ in fulfillment of a writer’s life’s purpose.
Moderating the Book Reading session, reviews, and interview was Dr. Andee Iheme; Director, Calabar Study Centre of the National Open University of Nigeria and former National Director, (Training) Nigerian Institute of Public Relations. Dr. Iheme expertly moderated the reading sessions while intermittently taking guests through the pages of Titi Horsfall’s novels. He described the books as rich in content, written in simple English language; with words that make easy reading for anyone to understand. He praised the superior and excellent print and cover page of both books, saying that its good quality can withstand wear and tear for an appreciable length of time.
Thereafter, Mr. Uche Izuora, a reviewer, and blogger, gave his perspective on the content of both novels. In a very articulated manner, Izuora took guests through the pages, experiences and imagery on display. He was particularly impressed with the level of detail that Titi Horsfall puts into every scene, making the scenes come alive, and the reader enthralled with a depth in a story that holds one captivated. He says, the writer, spurns romantic expressions and narrations that can only be Titi Horsfall’s. He notes how the author weaves in Biblical truths that not only portrays her deep understanding of Scripture, but delivers this in a tender manner.
The Book Reading was further eloquently delivered, with tints of drama and comedy.
Ms. Siene Allwell-Brown, one of Nigeria’s finest veteran broadcaster and former General Manager External Relations in the LNG industry, graced the event and added colour with her reading of Influence of a King. She made reference to the use of alliteration in a sentence– desperate depression dragging – an example of Titi’s literary consciousness.
She was particularly pleased with scenes that stirred her childhood memories, use of words that are indigenous, and in certain cases, indicative of the Niger Delta. She praised Horsfall’s commitment to writing; despite having a full schedule as a corporate professional, a wife and mother to her children.
Mrs Kalango read from Influence of a King, and revealed that education played a critical role in the success of Kanyam, the novel’s heroine. She advised that the message on education should be taken seriously.
Mr. Victor Eromosele, CEO of M.E. Consulting Limited, and former Chief Financial Officer in the LNG industry, also read from Influence of a King, projecting his voice in military style as he read a war scene from the novel.
Dr. Kester Osahenye, a writer and MTN’s Channel Manager- Retail, read From an Orphan to a Queen; Esther, stating that few write like Titi Horsfall. He encouraged more people to read, as her works are highly recommendable.
Pastor Tosin Onoyiga, member ANA Ogun State read, From an Orphan to a Queen; Esther, and gave his feedback. As a script writer, he confirmed that the written style of the novel would make any movie producer’s job very easy. Seeing that the plots and scenes make for captivating viewing, he hopes that both books would be adapted into movies.
Mrs Sola Izuora, General Manager of Sola Wunmi Enterprises Limited, read and gave her views of From an Orphan to a Queen; Esther. She narrated her experience when she first came across the novel. According to her, once the novel is picked, and reading begins, one cannot stop until the very last page. The literary style is so conversational, yet highly literary, and she believes that many the world over, would attest to Horsfall’s writing ability.
Mr. Michael Ikpoki, former Managing Director and CEO of MTN, said he had over the years, praised Titi for keeping up with her writing, despite having a full time job. He recalled flying in from Ghana to attend the launch of her first novel, From an Orphan to a Queen; Esther, and how he stayed awake reading the masterfully crafted novel. He says, knowing Titi, who always seeks to better herself, her new novel Influence of a King promises even much more.
As the event drew to a close, Influence of a King, Horsfall’s newest novel, was unveiled and formally presented. In a toast to two great literary works, in commendation of dedication, commitment and hard work; in appreciation of tastefully delivered works of fiction, From an Orphan to a Queen; Esther and Influence of a King, guest rose at about 7pm for the closing and rendition of the National anthem, networking and refreshments.
Influence of a King spans the globe during a time of harrowing worldwide events – the Great Depression, the droughts of America’s Dust Bowl years, World War II and post war development – and captures the essence of faith, fate, and the power of choices. Set in England, America, and Nigeria, this sweeping love story delivers an active perspective of tumultuous historic events, as well as the human interplay in interracial harmony and religious identity.
This love story, set during World War II, also underscores the influence and indirect impact British royalty and colonial rule may have had on the lives of the privileged and seemingly unknown individuals in unrecognizable regions of Africa. It points to the complexity and connectivity of the human race.
“Titi is a gifted writer who, with seeming ease, uses elegant prose to bring history to life. She achieved this beautifully with her first book, and has done it again with Influence of a King. In this book, Titi strings together facts in a fictional setting, in a plot spread across three continents, to create a fascinating tale of power, passion, and purpose. Influence of a King reminds us that God is at work in the affairs of men today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow.”
—Koko Kalango, CEO, Rainbow Book Club; project manager, Port Harcourt World Book Capital 2014
From an Orphan to a Queen; Esther
“Titi Horsfall, with the novel, From an Orphan to a Queen, has gained a firm position among some of the good and upcoming creative writers emerging in this country.
The novel is the story of Esther the Jewish beauty, an orphan who rose to become the Queen of the Emperor. Soldiers had brutally murdered her parents and made her and other Jews captives. Even in captivity, she held on faithfully trusting the Jewish God as her guiding light and protector, unswervingly. This eventually paid-off in the events and circumstances which singled her out of captivity to become the Empress of the Emperor whose soldiers had captured her and other Jews and made them prisoners of war.
Titi Horsfall with her fictive narrative skill has brought to life and relevance centuries old biblical story to lovers of good literature.
I wish Titi Horsfall a most successful writing career which this her first novel certainly portends.”- Dr Gabriel Okara; Novelist and Poet
About Titi Horsfall
Following several international trainings on writing and communication, a bachelor’s degree in marketing, masters in banking and finance, and an MBA in oil and gas management from the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Titi Horsfall has built a career in corporate communications and is the Head of Government Relations in a global LNG organization. She is also, the acclaimed novelist of Influence of a King, and From an Orphan to a Queen; Esther. Her poetry collection; Reflections is an approved and recommended text in some secondary schools.
She is the African Achievers Awards Honoree, and recipient of the 2016 African Literature Prize. Titi Horsfall is enlisted in the Coat of Many Colours; an anthology of Nigerian authors, received the Deep River Books (DRB) Merit Award, was DRB guest author at the 2013 ICRS in St. Louis Missouri, USA and 2016 ICRS in Cincinnati, Ohio USA. She was a featured author at the 2013 Port Harcourt Book Festival, co-editor of the 2014 UNESCO World Book Capital project: 100 Years around Port Harcourt, and an international author at the London Book Fair 2016.
Known from her youth as a gifted child, for her creativity, enterprise, and dedication to service, she has received other commendations, awards and recognition; including a UNICEF commendation for an NYSC water project, the MD/CEO Business Award in her corporate organization, as well as the 2015 Garden City Advancement Award as role model of the female child.
Titi Horsfall is a wife and mother of three boys, who besides writing, loves traveling and carrying out historical research.
9TH FEBRUARY 2016 BY TITI HORSFALL
The Best Valentine’s Day Gift
No matter the array of gifts, there is nothing more fraught with pain, than the uncertainty about how the other person feels. Worse still, is the torment of unrequited love or a commitment that is not mutual. Despite how few your words of love may be, they are all you need to profess your feelings, reassure, keep the channels of communication open, and commit as if undertaking a vow. If true love propels you to buy a mansion in Beverly Hills or Banana Island, all well and good!
While the appropriateness of any gift is based on myriad of determinants, one gift tops the list, as the very best Valentine’s Day gift, by a wide margin.
What is it? Words! Especially, those three words. When you look into the eyes of your loved one, and you can hold her stare, take her hands in yours, and tell her with every certainty, “I love you”. That seals the deal. From my novels, I have extracted some heartfelt verbal expressions between people who loved themselves, beyond a shadow of a doubt:
Influence of a King
Kanyam: “Chad, Chad!”
She called his name like a chant. Tears poured down her cheeks.
He held her face in his hands and thumped away her tears.
Chad: “I love you, Kanyam. You are special. So special that God caused global events to align with His plan and purpose for us to be together.”
Kanyam: “I love you, too, Chad!”
From an Orphan to a Queen; Esther
King Darius: “Esther, my beloved, think not of the moments we do not share but of those few times we do share. They have always been memorable. Four years have passed since I made you my wife and queen. These have been the best four years of my life.”
Queen Esther: “My king, my love for you grows with each day.”
King Darius: “I know for certain that your heart pants after mine. I would seek ways to remedy my absence.”
Tell that special someone; how truly you are in love.
Happy Valentine’s Day!!!
8th October 2013
It was one of those laid back Saturday evenings. I rummaged through the satellite TV channels searching for something light to view. I clicked on American X Factor; a singing competition(It was being aired about two weeks after the live performances).
As the lady on the stage addressed the judges, I did my assessment – which is normal, I think, for most viewers. I listened to her voice as she introduced herself. It had good prospects- earthy, rich and stable. When she said she was a fifty-four year old grandmother, I screamed “what!”
I sat up.
With her tall frame, clad in skin-tight black leather, she barely looked thirty years.