book review: the secret lives of Baba Segi’s wives by Lola Shoneyin

Bolahle, wanting to escape her own messy life marries Baba Segi and joins an already complex polygamous family set up that is fueled by competition and jealousy amongst the wives. The three wives Iya Femi, Iya Tope, and Iya Segi, are not happy with the new wife and do all possible to make her life miserable, as she seems to have become a favorite. Bolahle in her quest to fit in and please everyone unwittingly exposes secrets that unravel and shake the family to it’s very core.

This difficult story is beautifully and delicately told. Lola Shoyein’s writing is simple and uncomplicated. Her ability to find humor in the darkest of circumstances is a true testament to her art. Her characters jump out the page as they are so vivid. You will find some of them incredibly vile yet so human. Baba Segi is a sweaty,bumbling man, who has a bowel problem which makes him unable to hold his ‘lunch’, yet he comes across as sweet, and endearing so much that you can forgive his disgusting bodily habits.

I loved how each character’s story was told in their own voice, this made them more human and compelling despite the misfortune and hurt they have endured.

It is a witty tale of deception, love, and ultimately forgiveness. There is tragedy and tears but also learning and acceptance. The relationships are complex but because of how relatable the characters are, you will find a soft spot for each of them. It was a quick but memorable read. I recommend this book. Score – 8/10.

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