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Changes: A Love Story

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  878 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
Esi decides to divorce after enduring yet another morning's marital rape. Though her friends and family remain baffled by her decision (after all, he doesn't beat her!), Esi holds fast. When she falls in love with a married man—wealthy, and able to arrange a polygamous marriage—the modern woman finds herself trapped in a new set of problems. Witty and compelling, Aidoo's n ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published November 1st 1993 by The Feminist Press at CUNY (first published January 1st 1991)
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Community Reviews

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Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is an interesting novella from a Ghanaian feminist author. I made the mistake of taking the subtitle (“A Love Story”) seriously, and so wasn’t prepared for the heavy material it actually contains – professional women struggling to find contentment in a society that retains traditional, conservative expectations about women’s roles. To the point that, within the first 15 pages, the protagonist is raped by her husband, then reflects that the concept of marital rape doesn’t exist in her societ ...more
Sep 27, 2007 Nathaniel rated it liked it
Shelves: africa
This is my first exposure to Aidoo, who is better known for her drama than for her fiction. "Changes" is a compact and mature look at a woman's inability to find satisfactory companionship and love in modern day Accra, Ghana. The insights into polygamy from both the female and the male perspective were fascinating and the passages showcasing marriage negotiations and traditions were a definite highlight.

The writing itself is fairly spare and unremarkable, earning perhaps a mental grin now and t
Rowland Bismark
May 18, 2010 Rowland Bismark rated it really liked it
The Power of Education

All of the major characters in the novel are well-educated. Their education is not only the mark of their place in society but also an ironic and elusive symbol that signifies both change and stasis at the same time. The two primary lovers in the novel, Esi and Ali, are also the most highly educated. Esi holds a master’s degree, and Ali has studied in France and England. Upon hearing of Ali’s second marriage, the first question that his wife, Fusena, asks him is whether or
Aug 27, 2007 Mike rated it it was amazing

Ghanian women and Modernity: Independence?

Modern Ghanaian women suffer daily sacrifices, lifelong barriers to their advancement, and an emerging modernity which has multiplied their duties but not simplified their lives. Changes focuses on a three year period in the lives of Esi Sekyi, Opokuya Dakwa, and Fusena Kondey, three women approaching their mid thirties in Accra, Ghana.
In Changes we can see the evidence of a complex struggle in the name of modernity between African women and society, fam
Betty-ann Ananeh-frempong
This is a book about a confused woman. She, like some modern women confuses her feelings with the feminist struggle and gets burned really bad for her poor choices in the end. She discovers rather too late that love is all fulfilling and that a feeling of unfulfillment and dissatisfaction in a rather good relationship usually means that your love has grown cold or is dead! It made an interesting read and lead me on a journey of self discovery. I had read this book about 14 years ago and even got ...more
Lise Petrauskas
This short novel about a Ghanian woman is a rather a diffusely told story. The narrative hops around to focus on different characters' backgrounds, but certainly Esi is the main character. Ostensibly about Esi's (view spoiler) ...more
Aug 02, 2016 Eric rated it really liked it
Very good book. Stirring at times. Aidoo is a good story teller who gives good insight into the complexity of modern African women and men. The non-African reader can learn much about changes wrought in post-colonial Ghana and by extension post-colonial Africa. This book should be read in tandem with Emecheta's The Joys of Motherhood. Changes deserves a close and thoughtful reading and re-reading.
Oct 17, 2015 OMITIRAN ADEBAYO rated it really liked it
It’s just a coincidence that I happened to re-read Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch this week while also reading Changes, but it certainly impacted on my reading of the novel. Aidoo’s short book explores the journey of a modern, educated Ghanian woman as she tries to reconcile the demands of love with her own sense of self-respect. It’s a journey many women took back in the 1970s when books like Greer’s provoked a reassessment of the idea that if you were a woman in love, you must give up ever ...more
Jun 14, 2011 Louise rated it liked it
Shelves: african
I was expecting more from this book. I found the writing ordinary and the character development lacking. In fact, I did not like a single character in this story. I think I might have liked Fusena had we gotten to know her better but I found both Ali and Esi rather self-absorbed. Esi's parenting skills left much to be desired as well. The topic was interesting though, and expertly handled by Ama Ata Aidoo.
Jama Jack
Jun 29, 2016 Jama Jack rated it it was amazing
A few months ago, I watched Ama Ata Aidoo discuss 'Changes' in an interview on one of the TV stations in Ghana. I knew, then, that I had to get the book and discover the two ladies that had become the main subject of that interview; the nucleus to which all of the social issues treated in the book were attached.

Esi and Opokuya are friends, maybe sisters, as we've come to accept this term for relationships that go beyond simple friendship. This is what Esi and Opokuya had, right down to the mome
Sally Tarbox
"It was a man's world. You only survived if you knew how to live in it as a woman", 31 July 2015

This review is from: Changes: A Love Story (Paperback)
Set in 1990s Ghana, this very readable novel follows three marriages of career women: there's statistician Esi, our central character, whose teacher husband resents her career and wants her to follow a more traditional role. Then there's her lover Ali, a Moslem - but with a wife and family. And lastly Esi's best friend, midwife Opukoya, badly paid
Nov 29, 2014 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Kinna
Shelves: c20th, ghana
It’s just a coincidence that I happened to re-read Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch this week while also reading Changes, but it certainly impacted on my reading of the novel. Aidoo’s short book explores the journey of a modern, educated Ghanian woman as she tries to reconcile the demands of love with her own sense of self-respect. It’s a journey many women took back in the 1970s when books like Greer’s provoked a reassessment of the idea that if you were a woman in love, you must give up ever ...more
Rebecca Reid
Nov 16, 2011 Rebecca Reid rated it liked it
Shelves: b-fic-modern
Changes by Ama Ata Aidoo (1991) is about a Ghanian woman searching for her place in a modern world that is steeped in traditional culture. Esi has an advanced degree and she loves her job, but cannot find satisfaction in her marriage, due to her demanding and overly pushy husband. While she loves her young daughter, she resents the fact that she is expected to care for her as well as working and taking care of the house and being there for her husband. She resents her husband and her expected ro ...more
I gave this book a 4.5 stars.

I found that this novel was a lesson in love for me. Aidoo presents us with the story of Esi, a Ghanain woman who has been thoroughly educated about the world but, not about love.

Esi's character reads like a modern soap opera about a woman who has grown tired of her neat marriage and has started to crave adventure even though Esi herself labels this longing as a desire to not be under the thumb of any man especially, her husband, Oko who she sees as a mama's boy who
Jun 15, 2012 Jolanta rated it really liked it
Shelves: african-women
No dogmatism in the way Esi is presented here: A portrait of a young modern woman in the heart of Ghana. Independent, slightly rebellious and passionate about her work who divorces her husband because he takes too much of her time and space. Something totally unheard of. Just to fall in love with Ali, who is already married and wants to take her as his second wife. Interesting take on this one, as polygamy is something not forced but taken upon willingly.

There are many women who seek what would
africawrites  - The RAS' annual festival of African Literature
I loved - loved this book - when I first read it. I found (and bought) my copy in a second-hand bookstore; it's one of those books I didn't know existed, but was glad to find. I'm not the biggest fan of Our Sister Killjoy, also by Ama Ata Aidoo - in fact, I think this book, 'Changes' - with its independent, ambitious and sensitive lead character, Esi Sekyi - is Aidoo's masterpiece. Once again, you can see her influence on Adichie - writing this book, makes me want to re-read changes allover agai ...more
This had more of a plot than most of the African fiction I've read so far, but it moved pretty slowly for me. Basically the story is this: Esi, a high-earning statistician in Ghana, is having marital problems and the final straw is when her husband rapes her. She leaves him, falls in love with a Muslim guy named Ali, and becomes his mistress. Eventually Ali takes Esi as his second wife, but their relationship doesn't change -- he still only visits once in awhile before going "home" to his first ...more
Dec 03, 2013 Megan rated it liked it
As a reader, I thought this book was pretty interesting. The plot was fairly easy to grasp, and I liked several elements of the text. I thought at times, there was too much description and/or cultural context given. Some parts of the text were relatively boring to read due to the fact that there were long paragraphs that didn't give me anything in relation to the rest of the story. Overall, I do like the story that is told and the lesson being taught.

As a teacher, I don't know if I would teach t
Mar 09, 2015 Jerry rated it it was amazing
The book is very interesting.It talks about a career woman named Esi,who takes her office work far above her husband.The husband wants more children,but the wife thinks her job comes first.In Africa,it is believed that, a woman's office is the kitchen,and not a white collar job.Things are changing gradually because of education,but not at once.So women who made a mistake of choosing her job above her husband, has the consequences of loosing her home.Is such an interesting story with much educati ...more
Aug 01, 2011 ☯Emily rated it liked it
Shelves: foreign-fiction
The book was written to show the changes in African women since colonialism officially ended. My perspective is that the changes have not improved the situation women face. The main character, Esi, is completely unsympathetic. In order to advance her career, she divorces her first husband and neglects her only child. She allows her in-laws to keep her daughter because it suits her. She can have an affair and work late without worrying about the welfare of her child. She becomes the second wife o ...more
Dec 29, 2010 Elisabeth rated it really liked it
I just spent a semester in Ghana, where Aidoo is from. I read this book in the summer before I left, and I didn't think it was very good. However, once I arrived in Ghana, and started seeing some similarities between the book and everyday life in Ghana, I began to appreciate it much more. It is a very interesting read, and details the lives of women in a changing society. It is often difficult for women in Ghana to know where they fit into today's society, because there is so much pressure on th ...more
Apr 06, 2012 Natalia rated it really liked it
Shelves: grad-school, poco
Read for my Postcolonial Lit class. I've liked all the books we've read this semester, but I really enjoyed this one. There is so much going on - the way the author plays with form and genre are really interesting, but the characters and plot are engaging too. The story is about professional women in West Africa (mostly set in Accra, but they travel a lot) trying to "have it all." In the discussions of monogamous marriage, extramarital affairs, and polygamous marriages, the characters are often ...more
Feb 11, 2016 Nukta_ rated it liked it
Nobody knows how to be happy, so you take it where you find it. And often it's found outside romantic love... Odd that this should be my conclusion from a book subtitled "A Love Story"
Richly detailed, and I always enjoy meeting our selves in other African scenes - "It will rain today..."
Abundance of female characters, and their survival skills, always a plus.
Jan 07, 2011 Noel rated it really liked it
The plight of the African woman is analyzed through the lives of Esi and her friend Opukuyo, two African women in Ghana who handle their respective situations of life, husbands, family and careers with two different approaches. Their struggle for independence, for a voice within their families, for respect at work is clearly developed here. African men hold on to their old ways of dominance even in light of educated, hard working women and modern conveniences. The other aspect of life that these ...more
Mar 08, 2015 Lauren rated it liked it
Ghanaian feminist's story on a woman and her experience as the second wife of a polygamous husband. It is really the story of 3 three women, the main character Esi and her best friend, and the first wife of Esi's husband. It is essentially the story of contemporary educated and urban women and their new roles in Ghana. I read some background info on Aidoo and she is well regarded in the African feminist circles.
Jun 26, 2008 Brad rated it really liked it
I read this book for an African Literature course at my University.

I actually enjoyed this book a fair amount more than other African novels I've read in that this one actually progresses to an actual climactic ending (of sorts) as opposed to being very repetitive and anti-climatic.

The book is what the title implies, a love story. Albeit, the relationships involved are what might be considered in Western society to be somewhat non-traditional. Your understanding of the novel's nuances, details
Haja Kamara
One lesson taken from this book....don't use traditional practices to serve your modern needs, there are no short cuts on this path....
Dora Okeyo
Dec 10, 2012 Dora Okeyo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chnages follows the life of Esi, an independent woman who leaves her husband Oko-for invading her privacy and personal space-and always wanting to rule out what she can or cannot do. She's an educated woman-whom after experiencing marital rape-decides to leave her husband and live her life as she sees fit. But she meets Ali, and falls in love with him.
They have such a beautiful connection that it keeps you reading-but Esi has to decide how she'd fit into his life given also that Ali is married-h
Aug 31, 2007 Essence rated it it was ok
I wanted to love this book. I mean, really, a love story out of Africa? How rare and how very necessary. It can be read two ways. As literature it disappoints. I just never reached the point of caring for the characters -- not even one. But as a sociological text it fares better. You may just want to see how urban Ghanians interact with one other, the balancing act as new aspirations are placed alongside longstanding traditions, ever-changing preoccupations and contemporary worries. Aidoo has mu ...more
Wamuyu Kiragu
Dec 30, 2015 Wamuyu Kiragu rated it really liked it
Fantastic read. Read it between midnight and 5.30am. I couldn't put it down. A delicious little book that looks at the choices people make quite honestly and their consequences.
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Professor Ama Ata Aidoo, née Christina Ama Aidoo (born 23 March 1940, Saltpond) is a Ghanaian author, poet, playwright and academic, who is also a former Minister of Education in the Ghana government. She currently lives in Ghana, where in 2000 she established the Mbaasem Foundation to promote and support the work of African women writers.

(from Wikipedia)
More about Ama Ata Aidoo...

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“Love? Love? Love is not safe, my lady silk, love is dangerous. It is deceitfully sweet like wine from a fresh palm tree at dawn. Love is fine for singing about and love songs are good to listen to, sometimes even to dance to. But when we need to count on human strength, and when we have to count pennies for food for our stomachs and clothes for our backs, love is nothing. Ah my lady, the last man any woman should think of marrying is the man she loves.” 8 likes
“My lady Silk, remember that a man always gains in stature any way he chooses to associate with a woman - including adultery...but in her association with a man, a woman is always in danger of being diminished.” 5 likes
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