Book Review: The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s wives by Lola Shoneyin

secret lives

This is definitely a good book. As the title implies- it is about the secret lives of Baba Segis wives. Baba Segi being a Nigerian, polygamous tribal man. What I loved most about it was that you have no idea in what direction the book will go…the secrets evolve so slowly and subtly…I began to enjoy it more and more as I read, with a delightful twist at the end that brings everything together. That’s always a nice way to end a novel.

Shoneyin keeps you guessing at reasons for things that happen in Baba Segi’s hosuehold. Also her characters are unforgivingly honest and flawed, and the description and the events reflect on the polygamous culture in many Nigerian tribes. Faith and Motherhood is interwoven with Feminism and Education and all their implications.

Each chapter is usually from the perspective of one of baba Segi’s wives or supporting characters. Sometimes Iya Segi will be the narrator for two chapters and then Bonale, or Iya femi, Iya Tope or Baba Segi himself. Even their chauffer was given the voice of one chapter. This is how the author reveals to us the inner thoughts and secret stories of the characters.

Long-listed for the 2010 Orange prize, this can safely be classified under modern literature. Delightful and nicely puzzled together, a very entertaining read.

Just a quick note – the book goes by two titles, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives & The Secret Lives of the Four Wives – just to avoid any confusion :-).

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