Bolanle is Baba Segi’s fourth wife. Young, pretty and educated, she is not welcomed into the household by wives 1, 2 and 3, who perceive her as a threat. Correctly as it transpires, for, despite radical character differences, they all share a secret that is about to be uncovered when Bolanle fails to conceive.
Baba Segi is a traditional Nigerian man. Well-fed and rotund, benevolent when all is well, a child lover, taking pride in his clan, the master of his household (in his mind at least – in reality it is his first wife). But also an uneducated slob. Not really the man for Bolanle and therein lies the source of my difficulty with this book. I didn’t believe in Bolanle’s reasons for marrying him, nor her enduring passivity in the face of persecutions from the wives.
Apart from that the read was an enjoyable one providing an insight into polygamous marriage, the dynamics between the wives and a feminine perspective that is far removed from the Western one. The tone was mainly light with plenty of comic moments though punctuated for balance with darker episodes. I lost count of the narrators – there were at least 6 – but the voices were differentiated so I was never confused. The ending was masterful – my favourite of the year to date – one in which almost everyone is a winner.