05 May 2011

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives; Lola Shoneyin

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives: A NovelThe Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives: A Novel by Lola Shoneyin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The four wives' tales intertwine with that of Baba Segi, a Nigerian with four wives. The problem is that the fourth wife, Bolanle, has not conceived a child in two years of marriage, thus setting in motion the unraveling of the lives of everyone in the house. The way in which this family lives will feel different, but having "Big Love" and "Sister Wives" on tv as well as a flood of Mormon polygamist books means that this isn't completely foreign.

Jumping from character to character, we learn the back story and motivations of the four wives and Baba Segi himself are not always upstanding or honorable. It's entirely plausible that the wives don't get along well, and that there is plotting between them, but the degree is a little implausible. It's also imperative that you read the chapter titles to know which wife you're reading about, as it's not always clear from the writing (the voices are too similar). The stories are engrossing, and the ending will surprise readers: why Bolanle cannot conceive, the extent of the scheming amongst the other wives, and Baba Segi's reaction to all of it are not quite expected. Glimpses of Nigerian culture are woven in such a way as to not completely overwhelm the reader with the difference between these lives and our own.

Copy provided by publisher.

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