Sefi Atta's third novel engages the reader in a reflection of a professional Nigerian woman's struggle with societal expectations both in her homeland and abroad. Deola, the protagonist of Atta's latest novel, A Bit of Difference, is an independent single woman in London who is beyond the long arm of Nigerian patriarchal expectations. While she has embraced the professional development that is a core expectation of women in modern Nigeria, she has also used it to anchor her self-sufficient lifestyle. Thus, she effectively rejects the pressure to marry or birth a child, a position more easily aided by her remote life in London. However, she secretly longs for companionship. Far away from Lagos and her family, she can avoid the daily pressure to "born a pikin" (126) although the imperative is always at the forefront when she thinks of her homeland. She is unhappy in her professional life in London because she is always cast as the Other; however, she is also reluctant to return to Lagos to face the expectations of marriage and motherhood that she has so far evaded. She has peace in her Western refuge, but she lacks community and is lonely as a consequence (31). Deola returns to Lagos and to her home in Ikoyi for her father's five year memorial service, but she carefully orchestrates her visit to coincide with business obligations so that whenever possible she is spared the onslaught of patriarchal pressure to marry and bear children, as delivered by her mother and extended family members.

While avoiding the pressure to marry and bear offspring, Deola engages in a one-night stand that results in her pregnancy and potential exposure to AIDS. Atta's treatment of this reality faced by Nigerian women is exquisite as she carefully delineates the desire of women for sexual contact, the fear of this desire being misunderstood as neediness, the gripping fear of pregnancy, and the even worse fear of AIDS and death. Atta conveys vividly the panic, the anger, and the loneliness of a woman as she faces potential pregnancy, illness, and death based on a single act of pleasure, and she complicates the depiction further by highlighting Deola's ambivalence about continuing the pregnancy, marrying, and returning to Nigeria.

Compared to the protagonists from Atta's previous novels, Deola is the character who is most free to do as she pleases, but she is the one who is always ambivalent about the freedoms she has in London because she wishes she could enjoy them in Lagos. Thus, Deola's decision to return to Lagos, to have the child, and to begin a relationship with the baby's father is an ambiguous one. On the one hand, she returns on her own terms and with her own money and property-both what she has earned and that from her family inheritance. However, she returns to Nigeria to become a mother with the open potential to be a wife. She is hesitant to allow herself to go into marriage quickly, and she forces everyone to consider the possibility that she will not marry despite being pregnant; however, she is definitely open to the possibility given her emotional connection with Wale. She is very independent in her handling of her affairs, and kindly rejects her mother, lover, and family's social imperatives by designing her own life plan. Deola takes her London freedoms with her to Lagos and marries the two into a new paradigm of independence.

Atta's third novel also breaks ground with the image of a supportive father who is actually empowering his daughters despite Nigerian cultural expectations. After much doubt and deliberation, Deola decides she can choose to have a child and potentially marry because she has had a positive male role model, namely her father who was a kind thoughtful man who loved his second wife and empowered his daughters although he had made mistakes with his first wife. He encouraged her understanding that marriage can be an empowering act and that men and women can function as equals in a marriage. This is a first in Atta's novels. In the previous two novels, the cheating father was also a limiting force who enforced gendered social constraints for the wife in the home and for the daughter in general. However, given the progress in women's education and business leadership, women were making strides with every generation. Therefore, Atta's novels are trans-generational journeys of emancipation and Atta builds momentum in creating progressively more emancipated female protagonists in her novels, as well as developing a more progressive father.

Deola's rejection of this model of Nigerian womanhood is commendable, for she wants to forge a new path for women like herself who wish for self-fulfillment and not merely societal endorsement. Thus, her decision to put off marriage and to anchor herself in motherhood is puzzling to her family even as she finds peace in Lagos by making such a decision. The journey on which she embarks is a risky one, but she is well-prepared to keep her independence while finding fulfillment. The more time Deola spends with Wale, the more open she becomes to the possibility of loving and marrying him. However, she has not committed, and she delays any formalities so that she may have the time to make an informed decision. She also wants him to have the same privilege. Deola's solution is an untried paradigm that allows her to create her own rules, her own expectations, and her own independence as a woman in the midst of a patriarchal society. She thinks outside of the triad of Nigerian experiences for women because she is "coming from a country where she has seen so many ways of cohabiting, a country where she could have been handed over to a man at the age of twelve, under the guise of respectability" (205). Keenly aware of Nigeria's shortcomings in its treatment of women, Deola creates her own reality and her own paradigm of emancipation from oppressive societal norms.

Meanwhile, Deola is able to build on her grandmothers', mother's, and sister's progress to create a self- empowering paradigm that gives her the freedom to engage in a loving relationship irrespective of marriage status, to mother a child she wants, and to remain a self-sufficient professional who can sustain her own model of living, however foreign it may seem to those around her. Deola's family history gives her inspiration and the ability to stand on the shoulders of giants as she creates her very own lifestyle in the homeland she loves. Unlike her grandmother who was not educated, or her mother who did not practice the profession she trained, Deola is able to achieve a professional career, an education, financial security, emotional fulfillment on her own terms without complying to patriarchal norms. Instead, Deola engages in motherhood, marriage, and professional endeavors as she pleases and in her own way without regard to societal sanctions and restrictions precisely because she is the product of trans-generational change stemming from strong women who made progress with each generation and passed on the gains to their daughters. By choosing carefully her role models, Deola is able to create a life she wants to live in Nigeria without complying blindly to patriarchal norms and expectations.

Sefi Atta's third novel depicts a progression of women's emancipation across generations with each generation adding their own forward movement to women's empowerment. Deola rejects patriarchal norms that would stifle her growth and creates paradigms of self-sufficiency and professional advancement that empower her financially and allow her to resist misogynist societal pressures. Bidding farewell to the triad of Nigerian patriarchal expectations, Atta's portrayal of Deola illuminates this savvy woman's struggles and her accomplishment in creating a free woman's space. Her individual journey to a place of freedom results in an insightful depiction of the trans-generational emancipation of Nigerian women.

Finally, in this novel, Atta also captures the beauty of linguistic creativity in Nigeria as she captures local Nigerian English, exposes the use of "phonetics," and writes about linguistically resourceful ways of capturing the experiences of women. For instance, she writes about women who have "… gone nuclear. If you can't provide, they will find someone on the side who can. It's true! Alternative energy source!" (82). The linguistic poignancy and the wit and intellect behind the use of language in Nigeria are artfully depicted in Atta's novel, and it deserves a place next Atta's Everything Good Will Come and Swallow as a must read in African Literature.