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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 by Lola Shoneyin
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2010
    256 pages
    Genre: Novels

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There are currently 24 reader reviews for The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives
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Power Reviewer 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.
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.
Heather C. (Tallahassee, Florida)

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)

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.
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.
Mary S. (Pinson, AL)

Fascinating Story!!
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.
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.
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