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The Joys of Motherhood

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  2,168 ratings  ·  150 reviews
...a graceful, touching, ironically titled tale.
- John Updike

A new edition of her classic novel to coincide with the publication of her other works in the African Writers Series. Nnu Ego is a woman devoted to her children, giving them all her energy, all her worldly possessions, indeed, all her life to them -- with the result that she finds herself friendless and alone in

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Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 17th 1980 by George Braziller Inc. (first published April 1st 1979)
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Rowena
“Yes, life could at times be so brutal that the only things that made it livable were dreams.”- Buchi Emecheta, The Joys of Motherhood

It's been a while since I've read an African novel that has touched me this much. This is a story that had me transfixed from the start, a tale of heartache, hope, and change. The book’s structure is reminiscent of "Things Fall Apart" in that the early part of the book takes place in an African village that still followed its traditional ways, while the latter
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Zanna
Nnu Ego's father is a great man, so much so that when his senior wife dies, her burial is a grand affair. She must take everything she will need in the afterlife with her, including her personal slave, a beautiful and vivacious young woman captured from another tribe. The woman begs for her life, but to no avail, she is executed. Her restless soul bonds with the recently conceived Nnu Ego and becomes her chi, her personal god.

The great father, Agbadi, feels compassion for the slain slave and to
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Cheryl
If Lagos had been a mistress (Ona), her lover (Agbadi) would have been the British, and had they produced a child, that child (Nnu Ego) would have been Nigeria. That child would have married her first husband (the British protectorate - colonization) but would have borne no children by him (Oluwum), so he would have abandoned her. She would have married again (post-colonization- Independence), this time producing offsprings with her second husband (Nnaife) and together, they would have fought to ...more
☯Emily
Nov 26, 2014 ☯Emily rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Women interested in the African world and its impact on women
Recommended to ☯Emily by: Montclair Reading Club
If I tell you that the title of the book is ironic, that will really tell you everything you need to know. Nnu Ego is a Nigerian woman raising a family in a swiftly changing society. Raised in a typical African village, she is thrust into a rapidly growing city of Lagos when she marries a man working there. There is no family support for her as she tries to adjust to married life in a strange environment. Her first child dies in the first chapter of the book and she is devastated by the loss. Ho ...more
Diane Brown
Beautifully written, authentic story and captivating. Buchi is a great writer. She has taken a story and told it simply to give a glimpse of the plight of a woman in Nigeria, but can be applied everywhere. She handles the issues of patriarchy, the eldest son, the value of a girl child and the contradictions and complexities of culture and traditions, against the backdrop and an Africa getting colonised. Simply masterful.
Nnedi
wonderful. this novel takes you deep into igbo culture and nigerian culture as a while in the 30s/40s. you see the connection and conflict between the old and the new, the traditional and the foreign. you see the role that world war II played in nigeria, too. and she never gives easy or simple answers. emecheta writes the most thought-provoking addictive page-turners. also for westerners, this novel is a good exercise in walking in someone else's shoes.
Don
Account of the origins and life of an Ibo woman born in a village in the the 1900's who moves to the city before returning in the late 40's. Straight forward, unsentimental, unromantic, feminist, humane, deeply immersive. Loaded with detail and cultural understanding. I think I got a meaningful taste of what working class life was like in Lagos from this. One sees pictures of colorful pictures of marketplaces but they really do not convey a sense of the culture and customs of people in all their ...more
Siria
There's an awful lot crammed into The Joys of Motherhood. At just over two hundred pages, it manages to give a picture of the status and roles available to a Nigerian woman from the 30s to the 50s; to detail the effects of urbanisation and colonialism; and to tell the life story of Nnu Ego, an Igbo woman from Nigeria, a story so grindingly sad that the title of the book must surely be one of the most sarcastic I've ever come across. It took me quite some time to read it, given its size, mostly b ...more
Jerome Kuseh
A sad story of a woman in the first half of 20th Century Nigeria who sacrifices everything for her children and gains nothing but the empty praise of a patriarchal society for bearing male children.

This is a story that examines the struggle to hold on to traditional Ibo values in a cosmopolitan and European influenced society.

It is also the ultimate 'be careful what you wish for tale', as a woman goes from the extreme of barrenness to having 7 children, and wondering if all her suffering was wor
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Madeline Cruz
This book is powerful. The reader is given an insight to the hidden world of African women in the first half of the twentieth century. However, the ending is perhaps one of the most heartbreaking endings I have ever read. Although it was indeed sad, the way the author wrote the ending was completely necessary. I realize now as I'm holding this novel in my hands that I had hoped for Nnu Ego with all my heart throughout her tale - the very same hope she was putting into her children. The disappoin ...more
Rowland Bismark
Buchi Emecheta is one of a growing number of African women writers who have set their authorial eyes on the conditions of women living both on their home continent and abroad. She takes her place among Tsitsi Dangarembga, Miriama Ba, Bessie Head, Ama Ata Aidoo, Lauretta Ngcobo, and Lindsey Collen, to name a few, as writers who have formed an intense new voice of African womanhood. Emecheta has published more than twenty works, including the novels Double Yoke, The Bride Price, Head above Water, ...more
Maleka
I think this my all-time favorite book ever. It leads you through the journey of a Nigerian woman's life- through her miscarriages, her husband's other wives, her live children, and all of her struggles just to survive and raise her children.
Lily
Mar 12, 2015 Lily rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Interest in Nigeria
A thoughtful exploration of "motherhood" as perceived by Igbo Nigerian Buchi Emecheta. Each chapter title suggests the issue pursued, e.g., "The Mother's Mother," "A Failed Woman," "A Man is Never Ugly," "A Mother's Investment," "Sharing a Husband," "Men at War," "A Good Daughter," "Women Alone," "A Mother of Clever Children," "The Canonised Mother." (18 total)

Style is direct. I'm not certain how well the time line would hold if the life and event points were plotted. Emecheta seems to want to t
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Leslie Reese
Enthralling and devastating!
Adebiyi Adedotun
The Joys Of Motherhood.

It tells the moving story of Nnu Ego, a W.African woman devoted to her children, giving them all her life -with the result that she finds herself friendless & alone in middle age.

She gave it all for her children but never got any benefit , she later died & she died like
"Nnu ego lay down by the roadside, thinking she had arrived home. She died quietly there"

SHORT DESCRIPTION
Nnu Ego, a west African woman Who married Nnaife a then washer man for his British masters
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Neal Adolph
Wow. I think I was in a trance when I was reading most of this work. It was as though it was the history of a nation growing up and being entirely unsure that progress was being made, told through the parable of a woman's experience as a mother. This mission in story-telling is one that I approach with excitement - both William Trevor (The Story of Lucy Gault) and Salman Rushdie (Midnight's Children) have done it so well, and with devastating powers of observation. The scope here, though, is sma ...more
Zachary Morgan
Apr 25, 2013 Zachary Morgan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Zachary by: Diya Abdo
The Joys of Motherhood is a novella that from the beginning caught my attention. Beginning in a flurry with the main character, Nnu Ego, running “her senses momentarily stunned by the color of the road which seemed to be that of blood and water,”(7) causes the reader to become enthralled as you wonder exactly why she is running and from what. As we further find out in the same chapter Emecheta informs the reader that Ego is in awe of her “chi,”(9) which was going to ensure that her life was not ...more
Namrirru
She lives a life of few ups, mostly downs. But the story doesn't dwell in darkness. It plows forward, like the mother in this story. It's a real page turner.

I found it interesting how the people whose point of view are most detailed are the people whom the mother identifies with the most. Besides the mother, this includes her father, children, and even her first co-wife. The other people in her life are like shadows with voices. Even the husband is less personalized and when he is, it's usually
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Olayemi
Words cant explain exactly how I felt about the book. It started with Ona and Agbadi the daughter Nnu Ego
through her upheavals. I love how she ties families and friends and how their relationship are.
She also referred to the role of woman in the Nigerian community regardless of the tribe.
This was a real page turner for me.
One of my favourite quotes "You are simply not allowed to commit suicide in peace,because everyone is responsible for the other person. Foreigners may call us a nation of busy
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Dawn
I felt evey bit of Nnu Ego's struggles, and I'm glad of the acceptance she came to just before the book ended. I don't believe her misfortunes are typical though, even if such an exaggeration is neccessary to bring up the issues Buchi is trying to hammer on. I like that she was not judgemental, examining it from the viewpoints of all the parties involved.
There is practicality to African culture if held seperate from western culture. Unfortunately this is impossible, and poor Ego and Nnaife were
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Nasser Aldhafeeri
I am trying to provide a review of the novel “The Joys of Motherhood” written by Buchi Emecheta. Buchi Emecheta was born on 21st July 1944 in Lagos. She has published over 20 books. She brings themes and issue of maternity, female rights and girls rights to free education in her writings. She has been praised for her writing and have been awarded many international prizes.

This novel is an expression of thoughts that focuses on the feelings, behavior and culture that were existed around Second W
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Amy Herrington
I was expecting a more difficult read, but found this actually very readable. It was like chick-lit based in Africa.

It focused on one particular woman/family's struggles over a number of years in an important period in Africa's history. The trials and tribulations were like something out of a soap opera. Just when you think everything's going to be OK... BAM! Another unplanned pregnancy, or a wife turns up out of the blue.

I liked the fact you could see things changing towards the end of the no
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Kressel Housman
It's been years since I read this book, but it was an absolutely unpredictable page-turner. It portrays the life of a woman in Nigeria in the 1960's. She begins as tribal royalty, but with the political changes in the world around her, she ends up in a modernized society. Her marriage and children disappoint her, but her strength of spirit shines through. Highly recommended.
Erica
It was over a year ago I read this one, so my memory's a little foggy, but I remember being struck from page one: the main character, a woman, is running down the road, as if fleeing, but she's also running toward something, and she's also afraid of being seen. The title is meant to be ironic, and I dare not spoil the rest.
Nana Fredua-Agyeman
This is the sad story of a woman who wants children and got them but found out that happiness is not in children as his children grew and left home. The following link leads to my review on my blog.

http://freduagyeman.blogspot.com/2009...


Thanks
Chris
Very glad I stuck this one out. The writing style has the feel of an oral story, which to this Canadian reader was at times tedious - heavy dialogue exposition, not what I tend to think of as "good writing."

But the story was excellent, complex and brilliant at showing me some things about Igbo culture and customs in transition with the urbanization of Nigeria pre and post-WWII.

The protagonist, Nnu Ego, struggles her whole life with societal expectations of her to be a "good woman," "good daugh
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Tanya Welden
One of the most moving books I have ever read. Emecheta captures all the pain of living as a woman in post-colonial Africa. This book changed me forever.
Calley
Oct 08, 2007 Calley rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women and men who want to understand them
A heartbreaking piece on the role of women in traditional African society, and the fractured nature of that society as modernism rolls on.
Marisa
Buchi Emecheta is a very expressive writer. More people should be exposed to her work. All of her titles are worth reading...
Erik09
Dec 03, 2007 Erik09 rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adults, mostly ladies
good feeling
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Buchi Emecheta OBE (born 21 July 1944, in Lagos) is a Nigerian novelist who has published over 20 books, including Second-Class Citizen (1974), The Bride Price (1976), The Slave Girl (1977) and The Joys of Motherhood (1979). Her themes of child slavery, motherhood, female independence and freedom through education have won her considerable critical acclaim and honours, including an Order of the Br ...more
More about Buchi Emecheta...
Second Class Citizen The Bride Price The Slave Girl: A Novel Kehinde The Rape of Shavi: A Novel

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“God, when will you create a woman who will be fulfilled in herself, a full human being, not anybody’s appendage? she prayed desperately.” 8 likes
“In Ibuza sons help their father more than they help their mother. A mother's joy is only in the name. She worries over them,looks after them when they are small;but in the actual help on the farm ,the upholding of the family name,all belong to the father.” 2 likes
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