Thursday, September 10, 2020

His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie

"Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding."  When I read those words, I thought surely this novel was set in the past because who does that in the present. While the book is set in the past, it's not in the distant past, it's 2014. 

The bride, Afi, has been given a mission by the family of her betrothed - force the break up of your husband and his girlfriend and return him to the family fold. That's not a small order, is it? But it seems a small price to pay for all Aunty Faustina Ganyo has done for Afi and her mother. And it's a win-win for Afi. She gets to leave her small town for Accra and an opportunity to study fashion design. Indeed, a small price to pay for marrying someone you've only met in passing and never with the intention of marrying him.

Initially I thought His Only Wife might be reminiscent of Lola Shoneyin's The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives, but that notion is quickly disavowed with Afi's arrival in Accra. While the author's description of Afi's life back in her home town is full of family members and detailed descriptions of their personalities, their backgrounds, etc., giving readers a chance to get to know them, descriptions of the people she meets in Accra tend to be more superficial. I never really felt like I got to know them so I had difficulty determining if their motives were sincere.

I think I expected more of His Only Wife than the author was able to give. Afi reads more like an impressionable early teen than an adult woman. Her story line is steady in some parts and rushed in others. It's the rushed parts that needed more detail and consistency to give the book some balance.

Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher but in no way influenced my review.


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