The elegant city of Singapore is host to a variety of people looking for a variety of things. Dara is a workaholic lawyer who has been working her way towards partner for the last six years. Amaka is a sharp-tongued banker with expensive tastes and a shopping addiction. Lillian is a former pianist turned trailing spouse trying to work her way through feelings of guilt and find herself again. The lives of these three women become inextricably intertwined when a beautiful new stranger enters their lives and reveals the cracks in each of their well-crafted façades.
Singapore is a city that lives in my heart and being able to visit it a bit with this story was a joy, especially with the different perspectives provided by the three main characters. Each of the main characters is an ex-pat and comes from a different background, allowing the reader to explore the intricacies of the city without feeling like an outsider. It glamorizes Singapore in a way that made me want to pack up my life and hop on a plane across the world. (Though, to be fair, that's definitely not a new urge when it comes to Singapore—my comfort movie is Crazy Rich Asians after all.)
Each character is incredibly nuanced with their own problems that start to completely take over their lives in a way that affects not only them, but everyone around them. At first glance, these women seem to be on separate paths, but it becomes clear pretty quickly how these women are involved in each other's lives and, to a lesser extent, the role they will play for each other. Each woman has roots that can be traced back to Nigeria and so this story is a wonderful exploration of the different experiences that people who come from the same region can have while also reflecting on how your past and the problems you’re trying to outrun will always catch up with you.
In addition to wonderful character work, Fadipe also explores the complexities of female friendships, from the loving support needed in times of crises to the secrets kept to protect feelings. The interactions between all the women in the story were portrayed very realistically, aided by the multiple POVs that allowed us to see how some characters acted differently to someone’s face versus behind their back. Despite some of the hostility and tensions, there also ended up being a beautiful found family element that really brought everything home.
THE SUN SETS IN SINGAPORE is a beautiful debut by Kehinde Fadipe that inspires wanderlust and self-reflection. It is available now and you can pick up a copy here.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well! If you prefer Amazon, visit my Amazon storefront and click on the list titled "2023 Book Recommendations."