Can we talk about the title-Butter Honey Pig Bread? I did not know what to expect from this book with an interesting title. The novel is divided into four parts as you can already tell: Butter, Honey, Pig, Bread. With each account giving bits of each aspect through memory, thoughts, and recipes.
Butter Honey Pig Bread is an interconnected story of three Nigerian women: Kambirinachi-Mami and her twin daughters- Taiye and Kehinde as they journey through pain, silence and betrayal. The story moves from one woman to the other like a pass the mic sort of situation. This allows the reader to hear each character’s thoughts, reasons for behaving the way they do and judge their actions.
The novel travels across Lagos, England and Canada aptly capturing the lives and transformation of all three ladies. Kehinde in Canada is closed in and hates the winter but also finds love and hope in the country. She basically becomes her own person away from her mother and sister. She learns to love and accept herself.
Taiye has moved through England and Halifax, Canada in pursuit of her culinary passion. To her cooking is a thing she excels at. Food can be conformed to whichever way you want it to go unlike people. She misses her sister terribly but a longtime betrayal severed their relationship which seems unsalvageable.
Kambirinachi-their mother is an ogbanje-spirit child who comes and goes causing distress and heartache to mothers. I believe this is the Nigerian explanation for women having countless miscarriages. Through her, we see elements of mysticism as she has her KIN who are constantly demanding her attention and don’t want her to be consumed by the people of this world. She belongs to their world.
The book gives undertones of mental illness through Kambirinachi who snaps when her husband dies. She withdraws and is unable to be the mother her daughters needed her to be. This is the beginning of the breakdown in their mother-daughter relationship. The trauma affected the twins for years leading to their separation yet growing up, they were inseparable and promised to always have each other’s back. Now they are all back in Lagos and must behave as normal families do over good food and with guests around.
I love that Francesca gives room to discuss/confront trauma and forgiveness. A beautiful ending to a story filled with pain and longing for love and family. I went through a couple of traumatic experiences growing up but none of them have ever been discussed. I am still not ready to air them out even at 30. I always feel like these things happened to somebody else. I understood Kehinde`s desire to unburden herself onto her mother and twin sister and force them to acknowledge what happened and ask the big WHY? There is a form of healing in that simple act. The family seems to breathe better after this act.
Francesca gives detailed food recipes through Taiye`s cooking shenanigans. I mean I am planning to try out some of the tea and drink recipes shared in the novel. Why not!!
I must say Kambirinachi`s narration had me confused at some point. I could not decipher whether she was exhibiting mental illness or if it was simply a case of mysticism or both?
Taiye`s relationship with mother Mary was an interesting aspect of the novel. She believed she could see and talk to Mother Mary. This got me. Pentecostal Christians always talk about their relationship with Jesus Christ. They talk to Him in prayer and whenever. Seeing this sort of communion play out between Taiye and Mother Mary was enlightening. Mother Mary did not care about the lifestyle Taiye lived. She offered guidance and comfort to Taiye and even once helped her save her friend!
Butter Honey Pig Bread is a delightful read. It offers great insight into mother-daughter relationships, family dynamics, the liberation of self and food communion. Francesca`s writing is simple and beautiful. She has a way with words and therefore gauranteed have a way to your heart!😍
Have you read Honey Butter Pig Bread? What did you think?