‘A Prophet Who Loved Her’ By Leke Apena – 80 Out Of 100

She chose her heart. He chose the church Fate reunited them. Can love save them?

When Esther, a bisexual Nigerian girl with a beautiful voice and rebellious spirit falls in love with Elijah, the proud Yoruba pastor’s son, the two lovers cannot imagine their lives without one another. But then, unexpectedly and abruptly Elijah ends their relationship and a heartbroken but determined Esther travels to the US to fulfil her dreams of becoming a singer.

Eighteen years later, Esther returns to the UK on a quest to find her estranged father who had fled Nigeria under mysterious circumstances. By chance, she is reunited with Elijah who is now married and the senior pastor of his father’s church. Old feelings soon re-ignite amid the painful memories of the past and before long both Esther and Elijah are faced with some difficult choices.

Though it had a good plot and storyline, at times the novel felt a bit formulaic, but not enough to detract from the overall enjoyment. The relationship between Esther and Elijah was beautifully depicted though I did struggle with the notion that Elijah would jeopardise his marriage and pastoral career for an affair with an old flame. Not just because he was a pastor but because from the beginning even as a young teenager he is portrayed as someone who is very principled and has a lot of integrity. Therefore it was quite jarring to see him willfully entering into a love affair, while his marriage continued to suffer.

I really liked the flashbacks between the 80s, 90s and 2000s, as the novel placed the main characters in the midst of key events that shaped Black British history such as The New Cross Fire and the subsequent Black People’s Day of Action march, and the Brixton riots. This was a really good way of presenting the facts of what actually happened during those times to an audience that may not be familiar and also a poignant reminder of the struggle and activism of Black Britons especially in the light of today’s Black Lives Matter movement.

Faith and sexuality form the major themes explored in the novel. It was refreshing to see that Esther’s bisexuality was not the ‘problem’ in her relationship with Elijah though initially, he did condemn her but later apologised for his actions and fully accepted her for who she was. Also refreshing was Elijah later challenging the homophobia in his church in a bid to open the minds of his congregation. It definitely felt like the author was making a specific point about how both are treated within the Nigerian community and it was a point well made, highlighting that the love and grace of God is not restricted to a small selection of people.

Ending on a bit of a surprise cliffhanger, indicating a sequel is on the way The Prophet Who Loved Her is an enjoyable read with lots of love, humour as well as dramatic tension to keep you turning the pages.

A Prophet Who Loved Her is available from online and in store book retailers Amazon and Waterstone


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