B.'s Reviews > The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin
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's review
Jun 05, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2010
Read from June 05 to 07, 2010

I was given an ARC of this novel by the publisher, William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins.

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.

In addition to 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.

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