The Secret Lives of the Four Wives

The Secret Lives of the Four Wives

by Lola Shoneyin


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African-born poet Lola Shoneyin sheds a fascinating light on the little-known world of polygamy in modern-day Nigeria, in her powerful and thought-provoking debut novel, The Secret Lives of the Four Wives (previously titled The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives). Fans of The 19th Wife and HBO’s Big Love will be enthralled by this riveting tale of a prosperous African family thrown into turmoil when the patriarch adds a young, well-educated fourth wife into the mix who threatens to expose the other wives’ deepest, darkest secrets.

“Alternately funny, shocking, and sad . . . a complex depiction of family and culture in modern-day Nigeria.
Sacramento Book Review

“A magical writer. . . . [A] delicious story.”—Huffington Post


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061946387
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/05/2011
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 322,274
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Lola Shoneyin's work includes three books of poems: So All the Time I Was Sitting on an Egg (1997), Song of a Riverbird (2002) and For the Love of Flight (2010) and two children's books: Mayowa and the Masquerades (2010) and Iyaji, the Housegirl (2014). Her debut novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives (2010), was long-listed for the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction and won the PEN Oakland 2011 Josephine Miles Literary Award. After teaching both in Nigeria and abroad for many years, Shoneyin now lives in Lagos, Nigeria and organises the Ake Arts and Book Festival.

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Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoy a story with customs snd culture included.
Man_Of_La_Book_Dot_Com More than 1 year ago
I got this book for free. "The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives" by Lola Shoneyin is a fictional story set in modern day Nigeria and centers around the house of a polygamist. The novel examines the complex relationships between the wives, their children and a new wife who is brought into the house. Bolanle Alao is the young beautiful wife of Bab Segi; she is educated, naive and. his fourth wife. Upsetting the delicate balance of power in the dynamic relationship, Bloanle is noticing that she is being pushed out by the wives, while at the same time being pushed by her husband to have a child. Polygamy was never the first choice for any of the wives, and Bolanle is no different. However, circumstances have a way to make your decision for you. When Bab Segi's two greedy wives devise a Machiavellian plot to make sure Bolanle is out of the way, a disastrous results awaits them which will not only upset the balance of power, but might destroy the whole family. In this polygamists household secrets are the norm, each woman guards her secret against all others in the household, however shares them with the reader through out the story. "The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives" is a sometimes sad, sometimes funny book. The novel examines the compound relationships of a polygamous family, the jealousies, infighting, self deception and conniving. I know very little about Nigeria; however Ms. Shoney made the country very familiar, as well as the people, so I felt at ease reading the book. Since the story is told by multiple people the reader is privy to their emotions, ambitions and world view which makes the characters fully developed and dimensional in a surprisingly short amount of pages. Weaving through each separate narrative, the reader learns of the events which brought this family together as well as an eye for the present. As the story unfolds, we are drawn into the world of Baba Segi and his family. Lola Shoeyin's writing is clear and evokes emotions as well as believable reactions from the characters. Even though the book takes place in Nigeria, it does have universal theme of actions and reactions within a close knit fiefdom of one man's home. For more book reviews please visit ManOfLaBook dot com
aka1993 6 months ago
This is a great book. It's not a fast read, and sometimes you will have to go back and re-read areas, to make sure you are clear on what's happening - as there are many wives and characters to follow. But this is not what you think it is. It is not a mere story about jealousy among wives, as it goes much deeper than this. At first, I could not understand what was driving the protagonist, but as you read, her story and humanity become more apparent. This is Nigerian literature, but I suspect many will see some reflection of themselves as you reflect on what the characters are facing and how they choose to deal with it. There's real love stories, jealousy, hate, infertility, family conflict, and much more...
gchristianson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book has been in my" to read" pile for sometime. I am not sure what made me less than excited to read it. Possibly the cover art and title implied that it would be a tedious folk story. I did pull it out of the pile because it was smaller than the rest and would fit in my luggage as I packed for an out of town job. I am glad I packed it!This book is not a folk story. If you can read this book without judging the polygamist life style and making any assumptions you will find it to be a very enlightening, brutally truthful story. This is a story of life in Nigeria. A place most Americans know little about. It is the story of four Nigerian wives and their polygamous husband. It brings some a very different view points to light. The characters are will written and three dimensional. The writing style retains some of the African flavor of the Nigerian language with many proverbs and colorful sayings throughout the book. Each chapter of the book is told by a different character. At times, it was a bit confusing, because the character that was speaking was not immediately identified. As you read it became apparent who the chapter was about. It kept me from becoming a lazy reader.If you are looking for a change of pace, put this one on the top of your "to read" pile!Thank you to William Morrow Paperbacks for the opportunity to read and review this book.
akblanchard on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Admittedly, the novel followed the conventions of a soap opera, especially in its reliance on dramatic secrets that the reader can discern long before the characters do. Nontheless, I enjoyed the writing and the exotic setting.
Soniamarie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Throughout the first quarter of this novel, I found myself laughing my butt off. Baba Segi is one of the most ignorant men to walk the face of this earth (in fiction anyway.) Sure, men see him as successful because after all, he is able to afford four wives and 7 children and four comfortable armchairs, but this man is not only terribly stupid at times but he also vomits on himself when he gets upset and um, at one point, he poops his pants. So... by the time I got to the part where the polygamist pooped his pants, I was checking the spine and the back of this book to see if it was branded humor because that wasn't what I expected. However, when Baba attempted to strangle wife number four, I decided this was most def not funny. From that point on, the book was downhill. Baba is a jerk and his wives are conniving, evil wenches, the exception being wife number four, Bolanle. Bolanle is just a weak woman who thinks that because something bad happened to her at 15, she is doing the right thing by throwing away a college degree to marry a fat old man who poops and vomits and has three other equally ignorant and repulsive wives. I failed to ever see her reasoning in marrying this man. Well, Bolanle is not conceiving a child (and this is why there is only four armchairs.. she hasn't earned her own chair yet), despite Baba's many attempts so off to the hospital they go and boy, this opens a can of worms. I hated the entire middle. The wives all gripe and bellyache and hate each other. Even Bolanle's mother does nothing but gripe and bellyache about her daughters. The ending was pretty decent tho, saving this from becoming a one star read. The secret of Baba's wives, I seen coming, but there was a surprise issue involving one of the daughters. I didn't see that coming and I appreciated the moral involved in it, about hate and hateful actions. They can come back on you.
libsue on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What would make an educated twenty-five year old enter into a relationship that would make her the fourth wife of a middle-aged man? The Secret Life of Baba Segi's Wives is the story of all of the wives but it is really Bolanle's story. Her entry into the house brings forth secrets long held by all involved and forces everyone to reevaluate life and what it means to be a family. Lola Shoeneyin has written a small book with big issues. It's a fast paced read that truly stays with the reader even after the cover is closed for the last time.
susiesharp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This books setting was new to me I don¿t think I¿ve read any fiction from Africa. This is the story of Baba Segi and his 4 wives and their children. His newest wife Bolanle has not been welcomed with open arms by is other wives. In fact they make life downright miserable for her.There were times in this story where I was a bit confused as to who was talking. It changed POV very often and wasn¿t always clear who the new narrator was.Other than that I liked this book it was a good story even though I figured out `the secret¿ before the people in the book did. It was quite the comeuppance for these wives after all the hurt they had caused Bolanle and others.When I requested this book I thought it was historical fiction but it is set in modern times I don¿t know enough about the setting to know if plural wives are common place or even if they are legal. But this was a very interesting story of the lives of this family.I would recommend this book it is a good story even though I didn¿t like a lot of the people in it as they are all extremely flawed by their past. I however did like the story and would read others by this author.3 ½ Stars (This book would have been 4 stars if it was less confusing by the changing POV)Full Disclosure: I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program
Litfan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This little novel tackles some pretty deep themes in only 280 fast-paced pages. Set in Nigeria, it begins with the addition of a fourth wife, Bolanle, into the home of Baba Segi, a well-off businessman who prides himself on his wives and many children. Bolanle is envied and resented by the other wives, who are jealous and fearful of her educated status and worried that she will steal away Baba Segi's already divided affections.It's a fascinating look into a polygamous household and the complexities of family life. It's also a meditation on gender, power, class, and the idea of sacrificing one's self for security. Bolanle harbors a sad secret, and the other wives have some big secrets of their own. The novel is told from the alternating perspectives of each of the four wives. Baba Segi himself doesn't have a voice until near the end of the novel. Despite the alternating voices, the novel maintains a smooth flow and a clear narrative. The prose is concise but powerful. While Bolanle is the main voice of the novel, it's surprising how easy it is to feel a connection with the other characters who have much shorter narratives. As the novel unfolds, the background of each wife prior to her marriage to Baba Segi is revealed, providing insight into their fears and motivations.Overall this is a quick, but deep read that I thoroughly enjoyed and continued to ponder after the last page was turned.
horomnizon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to like this book. I was interested in it as soon as I read an excerpt and summary. And, while I did overall enjoy it, the level of crassness in speaking about bodily functions and sex was at times a real turn off.However, the characters were interesting and I did like finding out about the details of their lives before meeting Baba Segi and why they had accepted a place in his household. I did not find the main 'secret' to be all that surprising, though, which might have helped had their been more mystery to it all. There are so many characters, though, and while you do learn some about each of the main ones, they each still feel a bit incomplete and somewhat stereotypical. I, unlike some others, liked the challenge of figuring out who was narrating the chapters. It was usually not too difficult, but I had to read a little more carefully to determine it.All in all, I mostly enjoyed the book, although it did not quite reach the high hopes I had for it and some of the language is just plain crude. Do not give this to your teenage daughter! However, there is lots to talk about, so some book groups might find the culture and story interesting. A previous reviewer mentioned that it is like a soap opera and I wholly agree with that analysis!Summary: Set in Nigeria, Baba Segi is a successful business man who has 4 wives, and although the first 3 have given him 7 children, the newest and most educated of the wives, Bolanle can not conceive. The other wives are quite jealous when Baba brings her into their household and while one shows some compassion, she is not bold enough to stand up to the other two who plot to get Bolanle to leave their household. Not a ton of present day action - more of a character study, including insight into the wives pasts.
lahochstetler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set in Nigeria, this novel examines the jealousies and complexities of a polygamous family. The household of Baba Segi Alao, patriarch, three wives, many children, and a new arrival, a fourth wife, Bolanle. Bolanle is different, it seems to the other wives: young, well-educated, attractive, her presence threatens to overturn the uneasy balance that has reigned in the Alao household. Bolanle is also childless, and much of the novel deals with her difficulties conceiving. Her efforts to overcome infertility threaten to expose some of the family's darkest secrets. Told by a broad cast of characters, the reader soon learns that secrets are the norm in this household, and each member harbors them. Polygamy was not the first choice for any of the wives, but all harbor secrets in their past that threaten their marriageability. The intimate look at how polygamy works was extremely interesting. The wives have all traded past problems for a new kind of hierarchy. The character most interesting to me at the book's conclusion was the least interesting at the outset: Baba Segi. He begins the book as something of a caricature, a man on the make looking to experience and broadcast all trappings of success, including multiple wives. By the end he has experienced significant domestic issues and emotions.
dulcibelle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I never connected with the characters in this book. The point of view kept shifting - each chapter was told, first person, by a different wife (or sometimes Baba Segi). Then there'd be a chapter written in third person, then back to first. It was a little confusing. The story was interesting, but felt a little unfinished at the end, as if the author just got tired of writing. I did enjoy the look at life in another culture.
GCPLreader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What an unpleasant read this was! This novel of a Nigerian Baba with his 4 wives was not what I was expecting. I found it humorless and quite ugly-- violence against women, women slapping their children, rape, sister-wives cruelty, toilet humor. Early on, I assumed these women were an African equivalent of our Bravo series "Housewives of...(fill in the city)". But this story is much darker and I can see no reason to recommend it.
landa102 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I like this one somewhat but found it a little hard to get into and found the characters a little hard to follow at times. It was an middle of the road read for me.
BookshelfMonstrosity on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I looked forward to reading this book. Why, another look at a marriage with more than one spouse, and another culture. It was very hard to even like the husband of the 4 wives, Baba Segi. He was a throw-back from the distant past. An alpha-male to the extreme. He valued his wives by the children they bore for him, especially a male child. What a surprise!And the 4 wives. Three of them were hard to even like. The fourth wife was the youngest and the only one who was educated. She was hated by the other wives. Bolanle (her name) suffered in silence, never expressing Her cruel treatment by the other wives, and even the husband.I almost gave up on this book. But, there is a small part almost at the end which almost makes it not a waste of time to have read this book. I will leave this surprise for other readers who take a chance that they might like this type of book.
picardyrose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Vivid details, and a world I knew nothing about.
tututhefirst on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An unusual look at life in modern day Nigeria, using the theme of polygamous marriage as the setting. Baba Segi is a small time merchant who, because of the success of his marriages, thinks he is a big timer. His first wife, and ex officio major domo of the household, has presented him with two daughters and a son. He is unaware that she is also the source of his wealth (his mother and her mother having conspired to settle a large sum on the wife in return for the marriage). Life goes along, he brings home wife #2, whose background has sufficiently cowed her so that she is grateful for a nice house, a shared husband, and the chance to braid hair for all the children. When wife #3 comes along, there is a bit more turmoil, since she is one who likes to look pretty, does no housework, and just wants to enjoy the good life. In spite of their differences, the three wives eventually settle into a routine each can live with, they enjoy their children and their status and Baba Segi is living the high life.The apple cart is upset, however, when wife #4 joins the party. She is young and HORROR OF HORRORS--she is University Educated. She tries to teach the other wives and the children to read, she goes off on her own during the day to shop, she takes her turn at the household (and marital) chores, but isn't allowed by 1-3 to really become assimilated into the group. They despise her, and begin plotting to have her removed (hopefully by forcing her to leave on her own.). She simply refuses to be intimidated. When wife #4 is unable to conceive, a wise medicine man suggests to Baba Segi that he take her to a hospital, since she would be much more likely to listen to the educated doctors, then to tribal medicine men. The test results are surprising, and will ultimately threaten not only marriage #4, but 1,2 and 3 also.The ensuing happenings are by turn tragic, comic, and surprising. I'm not sure if the author was trying to give us an anthropological picture of life in modern day Nigeria, or use this to form the basis of an African sit-com. The characters seem almost to be stereotypes, and I found it hard to follow the constant change of POV that occurred with each chapter. I wish the author had given us more indication at the beginning of each change so I could see who was actually speaking, but in the end, it did not substantially detract from my ability to follow the story. It's not going to win any prizes, but the average reader will be able to finish and enjoy it.
zibilee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Baba Segi lives in modern day Nigeria with his four wives and their children, but has recently become very bothered by the fact that his fourth wife Bolanle has not yet conceived. Bolanle, a shy and unassuming young woman, has her own reasons for marrying Baba Segi, reasons that overshadow her life but are not shared with anyone. When Baba Segi begins to take this matter of non-conception into his own hands, a startling picture of the family's home life is revealed. It seems that Baba Segi's other wives are not happy with their husband's choice of Bolanle. To start with, she is far more educated than any of the others and where the other women are cruel and calculating, Bolanle is even tempered and mild. When the first and third wives begin to plot unfortunate accidents for Bolanle, a war begins to rage silently in their home. Though Bolanle knows she is despised and victimized, she chooses to remain with her husband and the other wives, no matter what it will cost her. Soon Baba Segi is furiously searching for answers to his wife's barrenness, but in doing this, he will uncover a secret that will threaten to disrupt his home in ways he can scarcely imagine. Written with a sense of directness and combustion, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives uncovers the life of a fiercely dysfunctional family living in the throes of polygamy.I must admit that I was pretty excited to have the chance to review this book. I've been reading a lot of literature centered on polygamy in the last few months and I am always eager to read about this topic from another point of view. That being said, I felt that this book could have been a lot stronger and more organized than it was. First off, most of the characters belied any real depth and instead were caricatures and stereotypes. They didn't feel genuine or well constructed and most of the time they elicited eye-rolling from me as they plodded along their journey. The plot of this story hinged on a big secret that once revealed changed both the direction and tone of the book, but this secret was handled inelegantly and I had figured it out very early on in the story. Figuring out the secret early was pretty disappointing and left me wanting to put down the book long before its story was concluded. Furthermore, the actions of all the characters didn't really seem all that credible and so most of this tale was unbelievable to me. There was really no reason for each of the wives to hate Bolanle, other than to gratify the stereotypes of the polygamous subculture, and the fact that Bolanle so easily succumbed to their cruelty really seemed far-fetched. The men in this tale were all constructed from the same cutout, and all pretty much had the same ideas, beliefs and attitudes, which I felt was very sloppy. There were also a lot of crude bodily references scattered throughout the book, which I felt did nothing but cheapen the writing. The only thing that actually made me wade through this story to the end was the quickness of the plot and its length. It was a pretty short book and the action happened rather rapidly.I would have to say that if you are looking for a good book that deals with polygamy, you might be best served to look elsewhere. There are plenty of books out right now that deal with this subject in a less satirical and more fully realized way, and for the most part, this was not the most enjoyable read for me. I think there could have been a little more care taken with this tale and maybe a little less could have been done to shock the reader and create a flamboyantly outlandish story.
kellyn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Even though I knew what was coming about half-way through the story, I still kept eagerly reading to see how the revelation would impact the family.
awriterspen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives was a thought provoking look at the reasons for marriage and the choices we make. Each of Baba Segi's wives married him for a different reason. For one, it was to escape her servitude, for another it was financial, another wife was just lazy, and the newest wife married out of shame.The first half of the book sets up the rest of the book, making the last third of the novel the most interesting part. For the most part, the wives are horrible people but as their reasons for being in this marriage and their backgrounds are revealed, I understood better why they are like they are. The consequences of the wives actions comes to fruition in the last few chapters, and the book turned out to be quite sad, but I still enjoyed this little glimpse into a fictional, polygamous family in Nigeria. I also loved that the author threw in chapters narrated by Baba Segi as well as his driver. That was a nice touch in a book that was otherwise narrated by his wives.
andreablythe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When Baba Segi brings home his fourth wife, Bolanle, an educated woman, he is completely unaware of the conflict this would create in his home. Two of the other wives are convinced that Bolanle is a witch, trying to disrupt their home, and vow to everything they can to get rid of her, while the last wife is too timid to do anything about it. But Bolanle has secrets of her own, which threaten to draw out the secrets of all the women in the home. While Shoneyin's writing vividly describes these people and their lives, I have mixed feelings about this book. A full and complete portrait is drawn of each woman, and yet the story still seems to come off as an innocent women walking into a nest of vipers. The women are nasty and cruel, which is fine, as I have no doubt that this kind of behavior happens. I can see this story as though it happened in real live. It's as thought I could travel to Africa and perhaps meet just these people. And yet, I was slightly disappointed by how things turned out. No one seemed to learn anything, except perhaps Bonlanle, but even then I'm not quite sure how she came to do so. How did what happened bring her to the conclusions she comes to? I wanted something more to happen, something more to develop from what unfolds, and yet, what happened seems the only natural course for things to turn out. So, yeah, I guess all I can say is that I'm torn.
Crowyhead on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bolanle is the youngest, fourth wife of Baba Segi, a wealthy Nigerian man. She is also educated, and is somewhat torn between tradition and an independent bent. I really enjoyed this aspect of her character -- she very much wants to fit in with the family and the other wives, and most of all give Baba Segi a child, but at the same time she entertains fantasies of teaching the other wives and showing them a better, more modern way of life. She learns pretty quickly that her education has not prepared her for navigating the treacherous waters of her new household, however.This book drew me in quickly, and I was interested in the subject matter, but overall I found myself somewhat confused by the tone. It was often rather humorous or satirical, particularly when describing Baba Segi, but when tragic events occur in the narrative, the tone seems a little misplaced.
Heatherlee1229 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi¿s Wives, set in modern-day Nigeria, tells the story of businessman Baba Segi and his four wives: Iya Segi, Iya Tope, Iya Femi, and Bolanle. The story begins with the addition of Bolanle, the fourth wife, to the family. Bolanle is everything the other three wives aren¿t ¿ young, educated, and beautiful ¿ and the others clearly resent her for it. When Bolanle discovers that she cannot conceive, she feels ashamed and fears the wrath of Baba Segi. Through her pain, though, she eventually turns to the other wives and uncovers a huge secret that has been running through this household for years.I¿m not sure what to think about this book. I was excited to read it, I enjoy books that look at cultures other than my own, and a polygamous family in Nigeria certainly qualifies as that. Ultimately, however, the book overall was a disappointment to me. There were some aspects of it I enjoyed, but mostly I found myself less than impressed.First of all, the characterization of three of the four wives (with the exception of Bolanle) and Baba Segi left much to be desired. None of them seemed like actual people to me, Baba Segi for one felt like a stereotype of a polygamous husband ¿ he was rude, ugly, didn¿t much care about his wives, and placed their value on the children they gave him. The story was told in alternating points of view, with each wife narrating some of the chapters, and the unfortunate part of it was that I never could tell who was speaking, except from context. The three older wives blended together into one character ¿ they did not have distinct personalities and voices. In fact, I began telling them apart by the names of their children, not their personalities, as that was just the easiest way to keep them straight.The other issue I had with the book, and I don¿t quite know how to explain this, but I can¿t figure out what the book was trying to do. If it was attempting to illuminate the issues of a modern-day polygamous family in Nigeria, I guess it sort of worked. But if it was trying to say something about the validity of said marriages in a cultural context, it was a failure in my opinion because the ending almost makes a mockery of this entire marriage. It¿s strange ¿ I actually really liked the ending, I was very entertained by it and it made me sort of enjoy the book overall, yet it sort of made me want to go back and laugh at everything else in the story. It¿s difficult to explain, as I can¿t give away the family secret, but it just made everything sort of funny and strange at the same time.I did, however, enjoy the character of Bolanle, and perhaps the book would have been better if it had been written from her perspective only. She was the only character I understood and could differentiate from the others, and her voice was the only one I really ¿got¿. She was carrying around pain and secrets of her own, and I really felt for her ¿ she got involved with this already-complete family, couldn¿t fall in with the other wives, couldn¿t produce a child, and Baba Segi was no help. She was really alone in her situation, and consequently I could really root for her.So, no I can¿t really recommend The Secret Lives of Baba Segi¿s Wives, but on the other hand I¿m not exactly sorry I read it either. It¿s just one of those books, I suppose.
mrstreme on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bolanle is the youngest and newest wife to enter Baba Sagi's household. The only one of the wives that is educated, Bonanle presents a threat to the other wives - in more ways than one. They are intimidated by her education and concerned that a secret shared by all three wives will be revealed. So begins the plight of the women who are the cornerstone to The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives.Told from alternating viewpoints, Lola Shoneyin gives her readers just enough to keep the story moving, uncovering small angles of the story with each chapter. We learn about each wife: Iya Segi, Iya Tope and Iya Femi as well as Bolanle and Babi Segi. Individually, their stories are a fascinating look at polygamous marriage and how they came to marry Babi Segi.While the entire story was engaging, I found the first three wives to be horrible, conniving and distrustful. I didn't like them, even as I learned their "backstories." Baba Segi was even less likeable. Bonanle was the saving grace, and I was usually relieved when I learned the next chapter would be told from her point of view. The ending was sad - unnecessarily tragic - and I let out a big sigh when I finished this book. All in all, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives was just an average read for me. Be sure to check out others' reviews, though, before deciding to read this book.
MyneWhitman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this style of narration, and the language employed by the author in the book. It is warm, lively, and sometimes, tongue in cheek. Lola Shoneyin is first a poet, and it shows in this novel. Her use of metaphors and similes were spare, but very fitting, and the imagery in most instances very lucid. There was very little verbosity, and it was effortless to hear the voices of the characters in my head. I later read a commentator mention that the author uses a kind of English from transliterated Yoruba, I don't know how true this is since I do not speak Yoruba, but the style certainly works for me in the book. It is not only the style and language that refreshes in this book, but the empathy with which the women of Baba Segi are portrayed. They are not `tear-eye' monsters out to use Baba Segi's money for lace and gold, neither are they lazy buffoons, content to sit on their backside just because they are now married to an affluent man. In addition to their back stories; Iya Segi as an shrewd businesswoman, Iya Tope as industrious, if slow-witted, and Iya Femi as a hardworking maid with dreams of marrying the madam's son; they are as wives who bear this stirring secret, women you find it easy to identify with, to cheer on, to like, even if not love. Even when their secrets drive them to extremes of behavior and tragedy, we still see the humanity that lies beneath. Lola Shoneyin's book is a definite conversation starter and is written with an occasional humor that only adds to the depth of the work. The book tackles the sometimes deplorable status of women in Nigeria, and is not afraid to say it like it is. The author writes about real issues and real women, and made an often-told story one that engages and edifies. There are many secrets in this book, just like a lot of us have in our lives, and it is sometimes only by letting the secret out that we achieve true liberty. This was an enjoyable book and I will recommend it to anyone.