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.
Rated of 5
by Katharine K. (Alpine, CA)
I had no trouble being engaged by this book. I was sometimes appalled by the meanness and outright cruelty of some of the characters, but as the individual stories unfolded insight was provided into why they behaved the way they did. I had some trouble at the beginning of the chapters trying to figure out who was narrating, but it all becomes clear as you move forward in the story. I enjoyed this book and would definitely encourage others to read it.
Rated of 5
by Heather C. (Tallahassee, Florida)
This book captured my imagination and allowed me to view an unseen culture. I found it extremely easy to look past the shock of polygamy from a western perspective, and see the universal struggles of women. The situations and actions of the characters seem cruel and desperate, yet carefully conceived and carried out.
This book was an intriguing read and impossible to put down until I finished. It seemed slow for the first few chapters, but developed into a complex and interesting story. All of the wives were intelligent in their own ways, and Baba Segi maintained antiquated beliefs involving family. The contrast between members of the entire family made this book entertaining and thought-provoking.
I would highly recommend this book to open-minded readers who enjoy new experiences!
Rated of 5
by Beverly J. (Huntersville, NC)
Nothing Is What It Seems
I was interested in reading this book as the author has written several books of poetry and it has been my experience that authors who write poetry write fiction very succinctly. But, I did expect the storyline to be predictable, with a polygamous husband who three wives do not like when he picks a young educated woman to be his fourth wife.
What I got was a beautifully written story that was anything but predictable. There are many unexpected events that will keep you reading to the last page. The husband and each wife take turns narrating their story which takes place in the present and goes back in time to add context, but the reader is never confused about who is narrating or if it is the present or past. This story will have you looking at polygamous relationships in a new light and have you wondering about the benefits and how this arrangement changes as society changes. This is a wonderful debut book and I look forward to reading more by Lola Shoneyin.
Rated of 5
by Maggie R. (Canoga Park, CA)
Another kind of Big Love
We learn about others through reading their stories. Not only are the women we meet here of a different culture, they also share their secrets and reveal their individuality in the context of polygamous marriage via first person narratives. Engaging, unusual yet recognizably like ourselves, they give this book its hold over the reader.
Rated of 5
by 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.
Rated of 5
by 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.
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