The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives
When Baba Segi awoke with a bellyache for the sixth day in a row, he knew it was time to do something drastic about his fourth wife's childlessness. Meet Baba Segi . . . A plump, vain, and prosperous middle-aged man of robust appetites, Baba Segi is the patriarch of a large household that includes a quartet of wives and seven children. But his desire to possess more just might be his undoing. And his wives . . . Iya Segi--the bride of Baba Segi's youth, a powerful, vindictive woman who will stop at nothing to protect her favored position as ruler of her husband's home. Iya Tope--Baba Segi's second wife, a shy, timid woman whose decency and lust for life are overshadowed by fear. Iya Femi--the third wife, a scheming woman with crimson lips and expensive tastes who is determined to attain all that she desires, no matter what the cost. Bolanle--Babi Segi's fourth and youngest wife, an educated woman wise to life's misfortunes who inspires jealousy in her fellow wives . . . and who harbors a secret that will expose shocking truths about them all.
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- Hardback | 280 pages
- 134.62 x 193.04 x 25.4mm | 22.68g
- 29 Jun 2010
- William Morrow & Company
- United States
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In Nigeria, Baba Segi (real name Atanda Alao) is 42 years old with four wives and seven children. His fourth wife of two years, Bolanle, is 25 years old, educated, and still childless, which is the predicament that brings Baba's house of cards crashing down. This tale is told in the voices of each of the wives, Baba Segi, and even his driver, Taju. We see how they came to be in a polygamous marriage (never a first choice for any of them), the trickery and deceit they each use to get their way, and the resentments and jealousies of them all. The only true good character in all of this is Bolanle, who comes into the marriage with the good intention of teaching the other wives and their children, yet is thwarted and hated at every turn. At first, I only thought of Baba as ignorant and rather disgusting, but as the story went on, I felt almost sorry for him. He suffers a great loss, and we see his humanity coming to the fore. I also found myself totally drawn in to the story from its first pages. This glimpse into another culture, and the prior lives of each of the wives makes for some page-turning reading, and I felt frustrated and sad for Bolanle, but also felt the frustration of a couple of the other wives as well. Being able to identify so strongly with these characters, even though their lives are so different, is what makes this one a winner for me. The secrets that come out and their resolutions are also fascinating to read about. I've included quotes specific to each of the wives. QUOTES Iya Tope: On the right was the person who gave me my provisions and held my life and the lives of my daughters in the middle of her palm. On my left was the wife who wanted to teach me to read and write, the wife who did not yet know that she could also be crushed by Iga Segi's powerful fist. Iya Segi on her mother's advice to her: "Men are nothing. They are fools. The penis between their legs is all they are useful for. And even then, if not that women needed their seed for children, it would be better to sit on a finger of green plantain. Listen to my words. Only a foolish woman leans heavily on a man's promises." Iya Femi: In the years I lived in Baba Segi's house, I never forgot the evil my uncle did to me. I was reminded of it every day. Every day the children come home from school and talk about science and math, my head is flooded with anger. They use words like "biology" and "geometry", words I don't understand. Words I would have understood if my uncle had sent me to school. If he'd remembered the kindness with which my parents dealt with him, he would have seen to it that I became a greater person than I am today. I would have been rich and powerful, not a third wife in an illiterate man's home. Bolanle: One day, they will all accept me as a member of this family. One day, I will have a child of my own and everything will fall into place. My husband will delight in me again, the way he did before my barrenness ate away at his affection. Writing: 5 out of 5 stars Plot: 4.5 out of 5 stars Characters: 4.5 out of 5 stars Reading Immersion: 5 out 5 stars BOOK RATING: 4.5 out of 5 stars Book Clubs: This would make a great book club read; I can picture all of the discussion it would evoke. Sensitive Reader: There is what some might consider crude language here and there.show moreby Julie Smith