Andrea B. (Phoenix, AZ)
I enjoyed this book and found it an interesting story. On a scale of 1-10 (the best), I would give this book an 8. The dispassionate and sometimes raw depictions of sexual encounters reduced it from a 9. This story was told by 4 women, each in the first person. This made it a nuanced narrative as we were able to see the situation from 4 different view points. This was not a story where a Western female reader could "relate" to the choices these women made. Rather, this was a glimpse into a culture where economic forces and cultural norms dictated the range of choices available. It was informative to see how women in another culture made their choices and solved their problems. In the end, one could see how adaptive these choices were.
Gwendolyn D. (Houston, TX)
Entertaining and thought-provoking
Baba Segi, a Nigerian businessman, has just added a fourth wife to his family. The new addition awakens jealousies and conflicts among Baba Segi’s other wives. The story is mostly told via the alternating perspectives of each of the four wives. Some might find this structure confusing, but I think the author does a nice job juggling complex issues with multiple voices in a clear and understandable way. This fast-paced look at a polygamous household is entertaining and thought-provoking.
Barbara B. (Alta Loma, CA)
Lies & Deception--Not Good Bedfellows
As I was initially introduced to the first three wives of Baba Segi, I did not really like them or care about them. Once they each told their story and how they became a wife of Baba Segi, I found some compassion for them, especially Iya Tope, who showed kindness to Bolanle.
The attitude toward Bolanle by the wives was not well developed enough for me and the "secrets" were too predictable.
I think book clubs would have much to discuss with this book with the different emotional themes.
Leslie W. (Burlingame, CA)
Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives
I absolutely loved this book. From the very beginning this book swallowed me up. I hated to put it down!! Great reading material for a book club, especially those that have read the book the 19th Wife.
Karla S. (Dana Point, CA)
Five people in an odd relationship
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin chronicles the lives of five people. The patriarch, Baba Segi, who is an abusive male chauvinist; Iya Segi, who worships money; Iya Femi, who desires revenge; Iya Tope, who is verging on lunacy; and Bolanle, whose university education puts her at odds with the others of this polygamous family. The story is a good look at current Nigerian life where women have no value except for child bearing, preferably a male heir. This tale is complicated with jealousy, diabolical plots, murder and the secrets which motivates each character. When Bolanle does not conceive the truth comes out and the family unravels.
I enjoyed reading this book on African life but sometimes had difficulty determining which character was narrating the story.
Nikki M. (Fort Wayne, IN)
Desperate Housewives of Nigeria
Although enjoyable, this book didn't provide enough depth of the characters--it left me feeling rather unattached. It was a quick read which left me wishing that I had gotten more emotionally invested in the story. Some book clubs may enjoy it for a light summer read, but I prefer a little more to chew on!
Kathryn K. (Oceanside, CA)
The Real Housewives of Nigeria
The women who tell the story in The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives seem vaguely familiar! They demonstrate some of the worst traits that women can have – not unlike the TV reality series that some enjoy. As a huge fan of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and her unforgettable novels (Purple Hibiscus and Half a Yellow Sun), I looked forward to discovering another great African writer and learning more about Nigeria. What disappointed me about this book, although at times amusing, was how very little I learned. I also found it a tad difficult to identify the various ‘voices’ telling the story. Although not a bad read, to me it bordered on being ‘pulp’fiction. It’s not a book I would chose for the book discussion groups I lead.