Jennifer'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
Mar 23, 2011

really liked it
Read from March 23 to 25, 2011

A fantastic read and one of the best books I've come across in a while. At the risk of sounding too banal, I'd call it a cross between (last year's infinitely enjoyable) "The Lonely Polygamist" and "Things Fall Apart."

I was most impressed with the characters in this story. The 1st and 3rd wives are some of the most horrible people I've ever encountered in a novel, but Lola Shoneyin gives them enough dimension that at times I still felt for them and understood their motivation. And Baba Segi - what a proud, pathetic, honorable asshole! Such a great creation by this author!

I was also impressed that a short book could tackle so many themes! I was also glad to finally read a book written by someone who understands that when your story is told from different viewpoints, the characters should have DIFFERENT NARRATIVE VOICES!

There were just a few things that kept me from giving this book five stars: One was that I was never 100% sure exactly WHY Bolanle married Baba Segi, despite the author's best attempts. The other issue is the big "secret" upon which all the action in the book hinges: I felt like the author showed her cards just a little too early and should have held off on the foreshadowing until closer to the climax.

Those minor points aside, this was a really impressive book and I'm happy to see its recent awards and nominations.
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Reading Progress

03/23/2011 "I'm trying to read some of the books on the longlist for the Orange Prize for fiction, since the only one I've read so far is Emma Donoghue's "Room." I'm only a few chapters into this one and I'm already VERY impressed!"
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Barbara Albin I also enjoyed this book, the only reason I gave it four stars is that I kept getting the wives mixed up! I read this on Kindle, I either should have read the paper copy or written the names down! I am waiting for this author's next book!

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