Mary S. (Pinson, AL)
I loved this novel and it was a fascinating look into the household hierarchy and the problems that come from a polygamous marriage arrangement. Each chapter is written from the point of view of each of the four wives of Baba Segi, a successful business man who is very proud of his large family. The story is set in Nigeria and as the author reveals the background of each wife, you come to realize how personal fears and a need for security led them to their current situation. Lola Shoneyin is an excellent storyteller and manages to hold the big secret of the wives until the end of the book. I highly recommend this novel.
Rebecca J. (Knoxville, TN)
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's wives
This was a delightful book set in Nigeria during present time. However, the story was one that could take place any time in any polygamous culture which had me reminding myself when and where it was set. The story is told from the viewpoint of Baba Segi (the man) and each of his 4 wives. They all have secrets and much depth to their characters. I really enjoyed learning about the polygamous culture and Nigeria. The story was very well told and once you can keep the names straight (!) it was a fun, often humorous, sometimes bittersweet, read.
Martha L. (Warner, NH)
Secrets and Struggles
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives was a First Impressions book from BookBrowse. It is by a Nigerian author, Lola Shoneyin and about a family in Nigeria. A man, Baba Segi has four wives. Each wife is name Iya and then the name of their oldest child, Iya Segi, Iya Tope, Iya Femi and his newest wife Bolanle. She is not named for a child as she has not had a child yet. The story is about the family and its struggles. Each wife have a secret that is part of the story. The secrets come out in various chapters as you read the book. Each secret is hidden from Baba Segi while he nominally knows all as the father. With the addition of the newest wife, previous secrets are exposed. Each step taken by a wife has ramifications that cause a whole series of other secrets to be exposed. The ending has a kick, which always makes a novel more interesting.
Lola Shoneyin's debut novel is one of passion and secrecy, fear and love, strength and weakness. Each characteristic played out over time in equal amounts in all characters.
I found the parts about the Nigeria that were shown in the books to be fascinating and horrifying. The accepted treatment of women in another culture never fails to make me grateful for the culture I have been raised in.
Beth K. (New York, NY)
A family of secrets
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives takes place in present day Nigeria and tells the story of Baba Segi and his four wives and seven children. Much of the novel is narrated by Bolanle, the last wife. Her entrance into the family causes turmoil above and beyond the usual upheaval that occurs when a new wife is taken, as it exposes a secret that will change the family forever.
While the novel is set in an unfamiliar world, both geographically and culturally, the author makes you feel as though you know these people because the stories they live out and the emotions they display are common to people the world over. And because each of the women has a fully developed back-story that explains how they came to participate in the marriage, the reader easily understands why they act the way they do. Apart from the fact that the characters seem to jump off the page, the machinations of the family are fascinating. In particular, the first wife, Iya Segi, is wickedly Machiavellian in her running of the household, although her attempt to insure her place of superiority amongst the wives ultimately ends in tragedy for her.
Apart from the richly drawn characters, the author spins a gripping story that kept my attention throughout until the poignant ending. When I finished this book, I felt as though I were returning from a far-off world and while I’m glad to be home, I thoroughly enjoyed the journey.
Pat N. (Pittsboro, NC)
A Perfect Read
I loved this book. It is q quiet gem. Written in a poetic,simple style it's message crosses continents and oceans. It may take place in Nigeria; but, it deals with life issues we all face.
I did not find it confusing or hard to get into as previous reviewers mentioned. The use of each character's distinctive voice to tell the story gave insight into their motivations and ultimate actions.
This story has universal appeal and should spark many lively discussions in books clubs.
Ann L. (Arnold, MD)
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives
The author presents the story of Baba Segi and his four wives by having each chapter narrated from the point of view of the different characters. It was interesting the way all the different narratives wove into an over all story. The author writes in a very descriptive, lyrical style. I especially liked her description of Baba Segi as a “flatulent pig”. It fitted him perfectly. However, there was way too much other detailed description of the workings of the characters’ digestive systems and bodily fluids. I think this book would have been better condensed into a short story form.
Loren B. (Appleton, WI)
As I read this novel and got to know each unique character I was able to empathize with each of them and their life situations that had brought them to their present state. A wonderful book!