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The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives

A Novel

By Lola Shoneyin

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2010,
    256 pages.

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There are currently 24 reader reviews for The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives
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Maggie R. (Canoga Park, CA) (07/09/10)

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.
Beverly J. (Huntersville, NC) (07/08/10)

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.
Heather C. (Tallahassee, Florida) (07/01/10)

Eye Opener
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!
Katharine K. (Alpine, CA) (06/30/10)

Engaging Read!
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.
Kimberly H. (Stamford, CT) (06/29/10)

A modern day tale of polygamy in Nigeria
I loved this book. Beautifully written - I felt like I was in the house with all of these fiercely protective women and their children. Love, loss, independence, servitude - its all here in a wonderfully written, "couldn't put it down" book.
Pamela B. (Monona, WI, WI) (06/28/10)

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives
The story surrounds the impact the addition of a fourth wife, Bolanle, has on Baba Segi's household. Bolanle is university educated, something the other wives are not. Not all is as it seems as jealousy and a family secret threaten them all. The book was a little difficult to read, as the chapters are written in first person from the view of each of the wives, and it is not always easy to determine which wife is "speaking".
Carol J. (Isle, MN) (06/28/10)

Lives and Secrets
Lola Shoneyin's The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives provided a realistic peek into the lives of 4 Nigerian women and the husband they share. I enjoyed getting to know the 4 women and their stories; how they each ended up married to Baba Segi and why. I also felt I received a small insight into the everyday Nigerian's life. Although, I found the use of local terms and language a little difficult to follow.
I felt myself loosing interest in the middle of the book. But I was glad that I finished the book in order to discern the secrets of each woman.

Overall, I would recommend the book. It did make me want to read some more books about Nigeria and the lives of the people there.
Andrea B. (Phoenix, AZ) (06/22/10)

Women's Choices
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.
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