Baileys’ Women’s Prize for Fiction Best of the Decade OR “What a blinkin’ performance!”

“Non, Madame, le système a changé…”

It took an imminently expiring passport (you know that sinking “how did you let this happen” feeling?) and a belligerent bloke at the British Consulate here in Paree – “Désolé, Madame, mais le système a changé...” – to force a welcome albeit slightly frantic and decidedly speedy sortie back to Blighty on the Eurostar last month.

Involved much ingratiating obsequiousness from Yours Truly at the counter at the 9 o’clock appointment, followed by plentiful berating of self, not to say self-flagellation, during the prescribed nail-biting wait, suitably concluded with even less attractive but very sincere tugging of grateful forelock and baring of teeth on duly collecting the renewed-and-good-to-go-for-wow-ten-years passport just four hours later. Dickens would have had a field day. (Oh, and HRH and Gov.Uk, I salute you).

The reason for all this straying off topic is because as well as then being able to enjoy dazzling pre-Christmas London for 48 hours and spend some even more glorious catch up time with nearest and dearest, destiny had also played a hand in my trip coinciding with the Baileys “Best of the Best Live” event at the Piccadilly Theatre, announcing the winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction top book of the decade. Deep joy. Managed to procure a ticket and a glass of Prosecco and be sat in prime position all afroth with excitement as the 10 illustrious Chairs of Judges, plus “Nooooo, Yes it is” Stanley bloody Tucci and “you have to be kidding” none other than Sheila Hancock all took to the stage right before my very eyes. HRH and Gov.Uk, I salute you a second time.


“The anticipation is killing me…”


Clock Stanley extreme LHS, Sheila 3 along








Well, everyone now knows that the worthy winner of the title is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for the astonishingly brilliant “Half of a Yellow Sun” (which I think many of us had hoped and predicted would be the case). Would have dropped my glass of Prosecco and fallen over the balcony if the authoress had walked onto that stage to collect her Bessie statuette, but fortunately for all she appeared but virtually to deliver her modest and eloquent acceptance speech on screen to rapturous applause.


So much has been written about this book so would only add a couple of words – I think it is a must read, a landmark novel and a huge achievement. It documents the shocking events of the times while creating characters you care intensely about, and I believe it will stand the test of time only too well. Furthermore, it was penned before C.G.A.’s 30th birthday, so is all the more extraordinary for that alone.

Don’t know if this rings true if you’ve seen it too, but suggest the film adaptation starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton is worth giving a wide berth, however: not because it’s a particularly bad film, but because it should never have been attempted. The book is just so much more, and while its far from unequivocal ending works so perfectly on paper, found it deeply unsatisfactory on the big (or small) screen – the tale appears to tail off, hmmm.

As for the book: well I think every man, woman and child should read it. End of story!

Rating : 10/10 – A FAVOURITE READ

Winner of the Orange/Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2007 and Best of the Decade in 2015

Images taken from herehere and here.
This entry was posted in Book Prizes, Book Reviews, Books on the Big Screen and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Baileys’ Women’s Prize for Fiction Best of the Decade OR “What a blinkin’ performance!”

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  5. margot says:

    Feel like lending your copy (hopefully dog-eared) to your neighbor up the street? 🙂 that sounds like just the ticket for Christmas reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Margot, you’re very welcome to borrow it, bien sûr. It might be a bit much in the midst of mistletoe and Christmas crackers, but am certain you will really find it a great piece of writing and totally absorbing and inspiring. Just saw your “tweet tweet” re The Nightingale, by the way – haha!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. margotagain says:

    Afraid The Nightingale will be none too mistletoe cheery either.. Will have to take up all this serious stuff after New Years I’m afraid!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Really pleased that Half of a Yellow Sun won – it’s destined to become a classic. Sounds like a great event!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It sounds like a fantastic night out! Also, hopefully it will give me the boost I need to read ‘Americanah’, which is on my shelf but in an intimidatingly massive hardback edition…

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was just such an unexpected bonus to be there and get a ticket. The readings Sheila Hancock did were especially brilliant – even made me want to pick up the “Half-Formed Girl” again, as hearing her voice somehow made the text come alive which it hadn’t been doing yet for me on the written page. Hope you enjoy “Americanah” when you get to it – as the main character takes up blogging there’s quite a lot that will resonate I think.


  10. Denise says:

    What an amazing event to attend, and how dedicated of you to make such a journey.
    Half of a Yellow Sun is an astonishing achievement on all levels.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. alison41 says:

    Our Book Club bought the book some years back – book didn’t do it for me, & I abandoned it halfway through. But then I live in Africa …

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Alison, would really like to know what you didn’t enjoy about the book – for someone reading about these difficult times from a long way outside the geographical and cultural span a lot of people like me seem to felt that this is a great read. What convinced you less? is there another author who you would recommend as an alternative? x


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