Tayo is the first Nigeria to receive a scholarship to study at Balliol College, Oxford. He visits his relatives in the village of Ibadan before travelling the next day to uncle kayode’s house, another relative in Lagos.
On the day he sets to sail, his parents, headmaster, some of his teachers and other Lagos-based relatives stands at the Lagos port to bid him goodbye
Tayo describes his journey through the seas and the warm reception he gets at England in a letter to his father. He mentions his new friends at the college and explains in details his perception of things in his new environment.
His father replies promptly, giving him precise report on the state of affairs in the family and the country.
Mr. and Mrs. Barker, Tayo’s older friends invites Tayo and Africans for a drink party in their home. There he formally meet Christine Arinze with whom he develops a casual relationship.
Vanessa attends a party with her friends. There, she meets Charlie and Mehul. She gets drunk and wakes up the next morning with a splitting headache. Vanessa takes up her pen to write an article for the school magazine but changes her mind to write to her friend Jane instead.
In attendance for the West Africa Society meeting is Tayo, his friends and other college students. After the meeting, he introduce himself to Vanessa Richardson who is also in attendance.
Inspite of being a trifle jealous of Tayo and Vanessa’s chit, Christine invites him over to her place. She tells him about how she is struggling to maintain her academic excellence amongst other things. He console her and assures her that she will excel like she’s always done.
Tayo and Vanessa goes for a walk in the direction of the meadows. They talk on various issues ranging from Malcolm X’s visit to oxford to Tayo’s father’s duties during colonial admission as well as Vanessa’s father and grandfather’s involvement in colonial services.
They outrun each other to a country pub where they bought drinks. They leave early because two men spill their drinks and Vanessa declines Tayo’s offer of another one.
Vanessa goes back home for the Christmas holiday. She receive a not so warm welcome from her family as the atmosphere between her parents is strangely cold. At dinner, she has a misunderstanding with her father about his inviting apartheid friend to the Christmas party her African friends will also attend.
Tayo arrives Aberleigh, Vanessa’s home in London for the Christmas party. Aside from being mistaken for a servant by one of mr. Richardson’s friend, everything else goes smoothly.
Vanessa visit Tayo in the room he is spending the night in. They talk briefly on the demeanor of her parents and Tayo discuss his mother at Vanessa’s prompting.
Tayo and Vanessa spend everyday of the week together and on Friday, she bring him daffodils to brighten up his room. Tayo shares one of his family photograph with Vanessa and the latter makes assessment of each member herself.
Vanessa on the other hand shares her worries about being on African correspondent considering her British lineage. Tayo reassures her that Africa needs good journalist; British or African can then pull her close for a dance.
Tayo and Vanessa spends Easter in Paris’ with Simon and Nima. Tayo gets his first writing journal from Vanessa where he documents their stay in Paris from the first day. There, they live the Bohemian life – all four of them. A day before the completion of their holiday, Tayo gets a telegram that Christine is dead. While Tayo grieves for her, he also blames himself for not being sensitive enough to her needs as a friend.
Vanessa and her family visits France to the Bastille holiday. Jane, Uncle Anthony, Mr and Mrs. Murdoch joins them in France. They engage in conflicting talks considering Uncle Anthony and Mr. Richardson’s ever opposing views. Later that night, Jane confess to sleeping with Uncle Tony on their way home from the train station and Venessa also tells Jane about her relationship with Tayo.
Vanessa writes to Tayo describing the weather in France and expresses her opinion on the margery Perham’s review he is working on. Tayo replies and fondly relates his experience so far in Bradford with his cousine Tunde where those who aren’t on scholarship like him have to work long hours to make end meet.
At Tunde’s house in Brandford, London. Tunde and Yusuf decides to hold a party in honour of Gambia’s independence. Yusuf and Tayo discuss the marriageability of either British or African women. The party is in full swing when Tayo finds himself pressing a lady to the wall. Suddenly he takes a punch to his jaw and a fight ensures.
A policeman arrives and takes them to the station for questioning.
Tayo decides against telling Vanessa the truth about his chpped tooth which he gets as a result of the fight in Bradford. He attends Yusuf’s wedding with Joy, where Vanessa later joins him. On their way back, Vanessa accuses Tayo of lying about his relationship with the late Christone. Tayo tries to cajole her from her outburst but Vanessa wouldn’t have none of it, so he leaves her in the carriage.
After their fight, Vanessa suggests they spend Christmas apart which Tayo promptly agrees to. He sets himself on a strict schedule and manages to survive alone until New Years Eve when he decides to make chicken stew. Vanessa walks in during his lousy attempt at cooking. They eventually settle their differences and spend the rest of the holiday together.
The New Year brings Tayo’s uncle, Kayode to England. Vanessa gets to meet one of his family members and they get on so well. They discuss various topics ranging from Tayo’s sporting prowess to Annais Nin, a writer of erotica. Vanessa concludes that she’ll love to meet the rest of Tayo’s family with Uncle as loving as that.
With a first-class degree and a graduate scholarship, Tayo gets a chance to speak at Bellamy Boy’s School where Mr. Richardson works as a headmaster. His lecture is solely on Nigeria and it makes a big hit in the school.
Mr. Richardson invites Tayo to his office after his lecture and tells him on clear terms his views on Tayo’s relationship with his daughter. Tayo returns to college sullen and Vanessa asks him what the matter is. He tells her father is not in support of their relationship to which’ll Vanessa asks him to fight for them if he truely loves her.
Tayo is back in Ibadan, Nigeria due to his father’s critical illness. He tries unsuccessfully to write to Vanessa due to his incessant pleading for more details of Englad. While ruminating on what to tell Vanessa in his letter, Tayo is called outside his room to hear the news of unsuccessful coup to kill Ironsi.
This leads to unrest in some parts of the country but Tayo reassures the people, telling them not to panic.
Tayo sends Vanessa a letter after a long while apologising for his long silence. He attributes it to his father’s second heart attach, the coup d’ etat and the civil war.
Vanessa leaves for Lagos after her exams, ignoring Tayo’s telegram telling her not to visit yet.
After their loving reunion and Vanessa getting familliarized with the Lagos, Tayo tells Vanessa another woman is carrying his child. Vanessa, devastated, leaves.
1970 at Dakar, Semegal, Vanessa now works as a correspondent for Reuters. She makes friend with Salamatou a Senegalese who braids her hair and teaches her the local language, Wolof.
Salamatou asks her about her love life. She touches briefly on Tayo, explaining to her that she’s since move on.
Chapter Twenty One
In 1984, Tayo is a husband to Miriam and a father to Kemi. He is also an accomplished writer and a professor. One Sunday a month, they have lunch with friends at Yelwa club. There, they discuss various issues concerning the country and universities. After Lunch, Yusuf advises Tayo to limit the way he criticizes the government and Tayo tells him there’s nothing to worry about.
Chapter Twenty Two
Tayo recalls how nhe ends up with Marriam and Flips through Vanessa’s diary that he keeps in his drawer. Kemi, his daughter catches him unawares and chides him that he works too hard. Eventually, father tells daughter a story and they are joined by Mariam before they all go to bed.
Chapter Twenty Three
For the summer holiday, Tayo and his family decides to spend three weeks, Uncle Kayode’s in Lagos his mother and other relatives in Ibadan. Despite Miriam’s objection, Tayo visits an old man who serves Lord Lugard during his reign in Nigeria, instead of visting his mother in Ibadan.
On his return, he learns that his mother dies in a fatal accident while coming to Lagos to visit him and his family.
Chapter Twenty Four
Six months after the death of Tayo’s mother, the coup to overthrow the democratic rulers by the millitary takes place successfully. The people’s optimism quickly dies out when the millitary administration proves to be the as corrupt as the preceding rulers and this leads to lots of unrest and protests.
Admist the unrest, Miriam advises that they leaves Nigeria for England but Tayo objects claiming his loyalty to his country and wouldn’t let him.
Chapter Twenty Five
In 1990, Tayo’s hopes for improved educational system is dashed when a foundation that promises to help provides only second-hand books and old software programmes that can’t be used due to lack of computers. Miriam and Kemi leave for England the previous year.
Chapter Twenty Six
In 1994, Tayo on his way back from his office meets soldiers who has mount up road blocks in order to inspect citizens or collect bribes. Tayo is surprised they do not ask him for money but instead they take him to the barracks for questioning. He is severely beaten and ask to stop his critical writing against the government.
Chapter Twenty Seven
Tayo meets vanessa for the first time after their break up, during his tour of England while promoting his new book on Lord Lugard. After the seminar, they both catch up on each other’s lives. At the end of the evening, Tayo asks if he would kiss her but she politely declines, saying she would miss her train.
Chapter Twenty Eight
Vanessa sits at Broadwell Park reminiscing on her meeting with Tayo during his book tour. She revisit the past and dwells mostly on how she finds herself marrying Edward Barker, Tayo’s friend in Oxford. Later that evening, Vanessa receives Mandelo’s ‘Long walk To Freedom’ as a wedding present from her husband.
Chapter Twenty Nine
Tayo writes to Vanessa where he expresses himself freely like the old times. He shares his opinion on the role of artists in his letter. Vanessa earnestly implores him in her reply to be careful in his fall prey to the hands of military rulers. Tayo replies to her complaints about her failures as a mother by reasuring her she is a good mum and also tells her about his imperfections as a father and a husband.
Vanessa drives Suleiman to the airport where he leaves for Senegal, his home country. Vanessa is heartbroken with the way they part and worries about him constantly. She bares her heart in a letter to Tayo, expressing her sadness and longing for what could have being. Eventually, she decided not to send it.
Chapter Thirty One
Vanessa visits her father, Mr. Richardson, who is now old and lives in the Carrington Home for the Elderly. With her father is murdoch and Mrs. Halliday. After the brief visit, she buys a fitting skirt in preparation to meet Tayo at the airport the next day. Unfortunately, Tayo is not on the list of those on the expected plane.
Chapter Thirty Two
On Tayo’s way to the airport, his plan to visit Englad for a long while fails as he is involved in a ghasly accident orchestrated by the Nigerian military.
Chapter Thirty Three
After Tayo’s survival of the accident that lost the life of his driver, Abdou, he resorts to living at Kemi’s apartment in San Francisco. There she works as a nanny to fund her artistic pursuits.
Kemi sensing her father’s depression suggest that he sees a therapist. Tayo promptly refuses, saying he doesn’t need one. This outburst dregs up the ugly past making father and daughter exchange harsh words. Later that night, they apologize to one another.
Chapter Thirty Four
Vanessa, after the death of her father, tries to publish his manuscript. She finds out interesting news on the period of their stay in Nigeria as a family. She speculates on different twists to what leads to her mother’s early departure from Nigeria. She reconciles with Suleiman, her son, who on his return to England promptly apologizes and resolves to start up a business.
Chapter Thirty Five
Tayo gets the opportunity to teach, which he does not appreciate initially but soon seems to enjoy. His legs heal completely, given to his long walks. He later recives a letter from the Nigerian president that states that he has being awarded a honoraby degree from oxford.
Chapter Thirty Six
Family and friends gather for the occasion in the Sheldonian, England. Tayo, after receiving his award joins his family while Kemi introduces herself, miriam and some other family members to Vanessa and her son. Tayo and Vanessa later steals away from the party to have an alone time“`