Review: Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

“When Baba Segi awoke with a bellyache for the sixth day in a row, he knew it was time to do something drastic about his fourth wife’s childlessness.”

This very thought will bring all that Baba Segi knows about his life to a crashing ____. The story begins as he begins the process of finding out why Bolanle is not yet pregnant after two years. Through his actions and the narration of his four wives we learn how they all have come to live under his roof and bear him children. We learn of their past lives and the trauma many of them faced and how it shaped the women they became. Baba Segi is at the center of it all- a kind, loud and big character who loves his huge family and considers himself extraordinarily rich because of it.

I read this book on recommendation from a friend and it did not disappoint. Each of the characters has an intriguing background and while you understand how they became who they are, you are still floored by the ending. I was totally shocked by the behavior of the wives and realized I have a lot to learn about Yoruba culture if that kind of behavior is commonplace. Also, I found that up until the end the women seemed to have strong personalities despite cultural expectations and norms. That was quite refreshing. The author was raw and unapologetic in her characterization of these women.

This is a definite page turner. There are no lulls and there is plenty of drama to keep you interested. And most importantly, the writing is superb. This books shows you how life CAN be in a polygamous marriage. Well done.

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin
Publisher: William Morrow
Published: June 29th, 2010
Pages: 280

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