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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Caroline the One-Guinea Girl

Ogali Ogali

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To purchase Caroline the One-Guinea Girl

Title: Caroline the One-Guinea Girl
Author: Ogali A. Ogali
Genre: Novel
Written: 1961
Length: 33 pages
Availability: in: Veronica My Daughter
in: Veronica My Daughter - UK
  • Caroline the One-Guinea Girl is included in the collection Veronica My Daughter and Other Onitsha Plays and Stories (see our review)

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Our Assessment:

B- : decent tale, with some interesting touches

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Caroline the One-Guinea Girl is meant to "illustrate every-day events as far as social circle is concerned".
       Caro is a real stunner, "the most beautiful lady who ever lived". Unfortunately she herself is "highly intoxicated by her natural beauty and vital statistics". While the going is good for a while -- with men lavishing gifts on her, superpraising her, and treating her well -- the reader is forewarned that the fall will come.
       Ogali begins the book in a sprightly style, different from his previous fiction. A series of short paragraphs introduce Caro. Questions, exclamatory statements, observations follow in quick succession in the impressive opening chapter. Some of it is still oddly stilted, but Caro comes alive. And there are the usual charmingly expressed observations, such as:

       "What a Pontiac," men said when they were chanced to have a camera look at Caro's nicely set breasts through her nylon blouse.
       Her grand ambition -- "her major need" -- is to go abroad, to England. A man might be just the ticket -- and at a social gathering she meets Okonkwo, who has been offered a college place in London. Money is a problem: Okonkwo works at the Fate Bank, but only as a lowly cashier. He is turned down for a loan and for a scholarship, so it doesn't look like he'll be able to afford the trip to England. But fate intervenes and he is able to embezzle the sum.
       Just when it looks like the happy couple can realize their dreams they are arrested. Okonkwo is jailed, and Caro, of course, "has no need for a prisoner". She goes back to enjoying the wilder life, receiving letters from admirers, bowling over every man who meets her.
       But time moves on, and as the title of chapter four suggests: Men's Praises are only Ephemerals. Caro succumbs to the empty words of Igwe, who passes himself off as "Dr. Love, recently returned from Toronto University where I did my Ph.D., Biochemistry". She gets drunk, and then taken advantage of -- and winds up pregnant. She doesn't want to have the child, but, as Ogali felicitously expresses it: "all efforts made by Port Harcourt Native Doctors to get the child removed proved abortive."
       Eventually she does have a successful abortion, but her bad luck just continues. She gets robbed -- and then she starts losing her looks. Suddenly she is no longer attractive to men. Finally, she is reduced to begging forgiveness from her family, and she crawls home.
       Then Caro finds religion ! "And no wonder men never approached her again." But she is a better woman for it -- and, in fact, an old suitor, suitably named Simplicity, resurfaces, leading to the happy end.

       Caroline the One-Guinea Girl is a fairly well-constructed novel, with Ogali focussing on Caro's story and not, as in much of his other fiction, getting sidetracked. The morals of the story are somewhat dubious -- the only reason Caroline doesn't continue to lead her vacuous but enjoyable (if spiritually empty) life is because men no longer find her attractive, and the only reason she saw the light (i.e. found religion) is because no one would have her. Still, it makes for a reasonably successful cautionary tale. Stylistically, it is also one of Ogali's best fictions.

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Onitsha market literature: Other books by Ogali A. Ogali under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Nigerian author Ogali A. Ogali was born in 1935 and was a leading author of the pamphlet literature sold at Onitsha market.

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