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His Only Wife

– tekijä: Peace Adzo Medie

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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 46) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
The cover of my edition of His Only Wife by Ghanaian author Peace Adzo Medie includes comments from Wayetu Moore that it's 'hilarious, a gem of a debut' and from Kirkus Reviews that it's 'a Crazy Rich Asians for West Africa, with a healthy splash of feminism.' Cosmopolitan says it's 'a fierce and funny study of modern womanhood within Ghanaian culture'. I was in the mood for a book that was 'hilarious', but TBH while there were some droll moments, I finished His Only Wife feeling more saddened than amused. Here we are in the 21st century yet — if this book represents things as they are — then even in sophisticated modern cities in Ghana, women are still made miserable by African polygamous patriarchy, and senior women in extended families are complicit in perpetuating it.

The first part of the book shows Afi bewildered but dutiful. Her mother has agreed to Aunty's demand that Afi be stitched up in an arranged marriage which is intended to separate the groom from an existing relationship which doesn't meet with Aunty's approval. The power relationship here is an important element in the story: Aunty is wealthy and Afi's widowed mother is financially dependent on her. Her husband was over-generous to the extended family who then failed to help at all when he died and left his wife and daughter Afi penniless. Afi's arranged marriage is intended to restore their place in society and make them financially secure.

So Afi leaves her mother and her friends in Ho for life in the capital, Accra. Eli and his family have multiple properties, but Afi is marooned not in his house but in an apartment block. He doesn't come to see her for weeks, and gorgeous though the apartment is, once her mother goes home to Ho, Afi is lonely and anxious. Her mother's hopes and Aunty's expectations weigh heavily on her. It is her duty to make Eli happy so that he will eject Muna and the child Ivy so that she can move into what will be the marital home. As Eli's absence lengthens, Afi gets bored and wants to resume her career in dress design. Contrary to the blurb, she is not just a seamstress, she is a dress designer, with ambitions to open her own boutique. (Fashion is a Big Deal in Ghana.)

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2021/09/01/his-only-wife-by-peace-adzo-medie/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Aug 31, 2021 |
Easy read, shares some interesting Ghanaian traditions, but the story is too simplistic for my taste. ( )
  elifra | Apr 24, 2021 |
4.5 stars

I've been trying to find the words to describe my experience reading this book. First of all, Peace does such a wonderful job of painting Afi and Eli's worlds. She does so in a way that makes you feel like you can picture even the tiniest of details. I felt as though I was given enough information about Afi, her mom, Eli, Auntie Ganyo, uncle Pious, Richard, Evelyn and Yaya to feel like they were all critical to the story. Out of the many subplots contained in this story, only one felt unresolved and it did honestly leave me a bit confused.

I loved pretty much everything about His Only Wife. I had such visceral reactions to some of the characters and wanted to eat just about every dish that was described! Afi's character development was a struggle point for me because I wrestled with how naive she was for so long, but I kept reminding myself of just how young she was and how much pressure was on her to rescue her family from shame. It's most certainly an entertaining and enjoyable read! ( )
  DanaManiac | Apr 5, 2021 |
The novel is set in 2014 in the West African country of Ghana. Afi Tekple lives with her mother in a humble home. Beholden to a wealthy businesswoman, “Aunty” Ganyo, Afi’s mother agrees to an arranged marriage between Afi and Elikem (Eli) Ganyo. Afi’s task, once she is married to Eli, is to win him away from a Liberian woman with whom he has a daughter. The Ganyo matriarch and her sons and daughter disapprove of this woman whom they regard as having stolen Eli away from his family. The marriage is not off to an auspicious start when Eli marries Afi in absentia. Afi is moved into a luxury apartment in Accra, but does not see her husband for several weeks. When he does eventually start dropping by, it is just to visit because the Liberian woman remains in his life. Afi tries to be an ideal wife but seems to have limited success, so she decides to fill her time by enrolling in a fashion design school.
Will Afi ever become Eli’s only wife?

Afi is a young woman caught between traditional Ghanaian culture and the contemporary world. Because it is important for Ghanaians to maintain dignity, honour, and a good reputation, and the entire family shares any loss of honour, Afi faces pressure from her family to make a success of the marriage. Her family also receives gifts and money from the Ganyo family, and these would cease should Afi not fulfil her marital obligations. Though family obligations and female subservience take precedence in her culture, Afi has personal ambitions to become a fashion designer and have her own boutique.

Afi is a dynamic character. At the beginning, she is timid and obedient. She agrees to marry a man she doesn’t know because it is the desire of her mother and her mother’s benefactor. When she arrives in Accra, she is very much an awe-struck village girl. She tries to conform to the role of ideal wife. She tries to be patient with Eli’s behaviour, as everyone advises her, but gradually she grows tired of the situation. Once she enrols in the design school where she starts to realize her potential, she gains confidence and learns to advocate for herself. Though it seems to take Afi quite some time to start questioning her circumstances, this book is a tale of female empowerment.

There are some decidedly unpleasant characters. Afi’s Uncle Pious did nothing to help when Afi’s father died, but when Afi’s marriage to a wealthy man is arranged, he shamelessly claims the role of her “father” so he can reap the benefits of the marriage. He expects regular financial contributions from Afi and the Ganyos, and even sends two of his children to Afi, expecting her to provide them a home. Eli’s mother is a difficult, demanding woman who manipulates others to get what she wants; she doesn’t hesitate to lie. Those who dare to question or defy her are harshly treated; even her children fear her.

Eli is an interesting character. Being handsome and wealthy, he has many advantages. At times he is a likeable, but then some of his behaviour makes him much less so. Of course, he is very much a product of his upbringing; because he is a male, his culture has given him a sense of entitlement which has been further instilled in him by his mother for whom he is the favourite child. However, it is possible to have some sympathy for him as well; the situation in which he finds himself is difficult. Like Afi, he has filial obligations and is not always able to do what he wishes.

I listened to this audiobook during my morning walks. My reading comprehension is far better than my listening comprehension so I try to avoid “heavy” audiobooks. This was a good choice for listening. The book has as an interesting plot and a breezy style; it is more than a romance but does not demand a great deal from the reader.

Note: Please check out my reader's blog (https://schatjesshelves.blogspot.com/) and follow me on Twitter (@DCYakabuski). ( )
  Schatje | Dec 24, 2020 |
A beautifully written debut novel about an African woman given in an arranged marriage to a much wealthier man whose family wants him to end his current relationship. In the course of it, Afi is deceived about the depth of her husband's (Eli) relationship with the other woman. Because the families come from a small village and it is South Africa the customs still observed there make it difficult for women to be strong and accepted. This is Afi's story of becoming one of those women. I loved it. ( )
  bogopea | Dec 20, 2020 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 46) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding.
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