Love in Colour by Bolu Babalola

What. A. Beautiful. Book.

Bolu Babalola finds the most beautiful love stories from history and mythology and rewrites them with incredible new detail and vivacity in this debut collection. Focusing on the magical folktales of West Africa, Babalola also reimagines iconic Greek myths, ancient legends from the Middle East, and stories from countries that no longer exist in our world.
A high-born Nigerian goddess feels beaten down and unappreciated by her gregarious lover and longs to be truly seen.
A young businesswoman attempts to make a great leap in her company, and an even greater one in her love life.
A powerful Ghanaian spokeswoman is forced to decide whether to uphold her family’s politics, or to be true to her heart.
Whether captured in the passion of love at first sight, or realising that self-love takes precedent over the latter, the characters in these vibrant stories try to navigate this most complex human emotion and understand why it holds them hostage.
Moving exhilaratingly across perspectives, continents and genres, from the historic to the vividly current, Love in Colour is a celebration of romance in all of its forms.

Honestly, this book was stunning. It’s bursting, literally, with love. Babalola has found some of the most fascinating and beautiful love stories from across history and the globe, but has reframed them to provide a new sense of love and belonging throughout. As she mentions in the afterword, some of these original stories are wildly different, with violence or heartbreak often being at the forefront. But Babalola turns them around and instead provides stories of powerful, tender and confident Black women finding love.

This is such a powerful collection of short stories, with such a wide representation of what love can be. I think I’d struggle to pick a clear favourite, although the bonus last one definitely is a strong contender as it’s an inspiring and hopeful true story. I loved Psy and Eros’ story, with the re-imagining of Olympus as a sleek office building. The setting was perfect, just as unobtainable as the myths of Ancient Greece seem, but with characters who oozed personality and adoration. I was also thoroughly entertained by Nefertiti’s story – this was one which was hard to predict! It was witty with a bit of violence on the side, and I tore through this story. I also loved Yaa’s story, especially after finding out more about the original story and better understanding and appreciating how Babalola made this story her own.

I definitely think to appreciate these stories fully, we should be doing the research to find out more about the originals. This is how Babalola’s work, her artistry even, is truly understood, appreciated and loved. The work she has done to create these stories of inspirational, powerful and loving Black women (and men of course), is actually incredible. The bonus with these being short stories is that we can revisit our favourites, and come back again to enjoy the love stories that make us emotional.

I am so grateful that I picked up this book – it was a pleasure to read Babalola’s work and I think this book is a must-read for everyone this year.

Love in Colour
Bolu Babalola
Headline, 20th August 2020

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