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The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by…

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives (edition 2010)

by Titilola Alexandrah Shoneyin

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3434831,955 (3.49)96
Title:The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives
Authors:Titilola Alexandrah Shoneyin
Info:Profile (2010), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:"read 2012", relationship, sex, sexuality, marriage, africa, nigeria, infertility, contemporary, poligamy

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The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin



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English (44)  Italian (3)  Dutch (1)  All languages (48)
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
i found this a very interesting book and, mostly, i liked shoneyin's style of writing. but i feel like it just didn't all come together well for me.

i enjoyed that we were given the voices of each of the wives, for the different histories and perspectives, and their personalities and 'roles' seemed well established and defined. but when the big moment arrives in the book... the reactions and conduct of two wives, in particular (the two who had been most aggressive in their mistreatment of bolanle), didn't gel for me with how they had been presented up to that point. (i hope i am explaining this well.) i realize that they likely were written like this with clear intention by shoneyin, to just be all out of fight by the point i am referencing. i guess i just expected... more from them. it was all kind of a fizzle at the end.

so as to not be too negative, i am glad i read this and i really do feel shoneyin did a wonderful job evoking the places and people in her novel. it is making for some very interesting discussions in the group in which i am reading this on GR. ( )
  Booktrovert | Apr 7, 2015 |
Although of little relevance, I thought I needed to say that this story reminded me a bit of Su Tong's novella, Raise the Red Lantern, a story of a polygamous family in 1930's China, mainly due to the jealousy and rivalry between 3 wives against the 4th youngest one.

The general pace of the novel is very good, starting off in a lighter tone and getting more serious in the second half, which shows excellent writing. The idea of having the the Point of View vary in the chapters among the wives is also a artistic literary device, but because the narrative style is similar, you don't know which wife is speaking in which chapter until you are about halfway though it, and to me this was a big flaw, and the author lost a star because of this in my rating.

The satirical caricature of the polygamist Baba Segi, was very amusing and served as a wry comment on male dominance in patriarchal cultures.
All the characters are engaging and full of humor, wit, malice, spite, and even some charm as well.

( )
  BBcummings | Dec 24, 2014 |
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin; (2 1/2*)

Baba Segi is obsessed with the inability of his fourth wife (just his newest acquisition; he still has the other three) to conceive. For two years he had been 'pounding' her & still she has not become pregnant. By his other wives he has three sons and four daughters.
Each wife seems to know her place within the hierarchy of the household and as long as they stick to that, things seem to run rather smoothly. But this fourth wife brought in is instantly but innocently a thorn in their sides. None of the three accept her and she is treated quite abominably. The children follow their mother's leads and are also fractious with her.
This then, is the basis for Lola Shoneyin's novel. She seems to not take enough time for the events of the story; in the mind of this reader. There is a lot of talk regarding Baba Segi's body functions which after the first couple of times could have been lightened I thought. Baba Segi rotates the nights spent with each wife with the extra night belonging to his first wife.
And as it says in the title this is indeed a story of his wives. Who does the cooking, the cleaning, the mending, etc. There seems to be no place for the newest wife.
For me Baba Segi got what he deserved in the end when he finds the truth of events within his little family. And I guess that I didn't understand the culture within the story. It was difficult for me to wrap my head around most of the characters, adults & children alike. Though there a few laugh-out-loud occurrences in the story, all in all the effort I spent reading it didn't feel worth it at the end of the day. ( )
4 vote rainpebble | Jun 15, 2014 |
Baba Segi is a moderately successful businessman, fat, self-satisfied and not very prepossessing - but he thinks he's wonderful. He already has three wives (and several children) when his eye falls on Bolanle. Unlike his other wives, she is both educated and beautiful and could surely do better than be fourth wife to this 'buffoon', as her mother calls him, yet she agrees to join the household. The existing wives resent her arrival and plot against her - and they are right to be afraid, for Bolanle's arrival will trigger the disintegration of family life as they know it, although the fault will lie entirely with the other wives.

I found this book enjoyable to read, in particular because it felt like lifting the roof off a dolls' house and peering in for a while, scrutinising the inhabitants and their behaviour, before replacing the roof and tiptoeing off, leaving them to it. Nothing is quite what it seems, as we learn from the sections narrated by different characters - all the wives, Baba Segi himself, and his driver - and it turns out that all the wives had very particular reasons for marrying Baba Segi. This is not the life any of them would have chosen.

What I liked less was the characterisation. Baba Segi, especially, I found to be a caricature; as I said, Bolanle's mother calls him a 'buffoon', but does he really have to be such an unadulterated one? He's a stupid, fat, middle-aged man who thinks he's got it made with his business, his big house, his four (FOUR!) wives (including a beautiful graduate!) and his scores of children, and he leaps from bed to bed, from wife to wife, proud of his sexual appetite...it's just too much. (Even so, when the truth dawns, I couldn't help feeling sorry for him, but I'd have felt much sorrier for a more rounded, credible character). Equally, two of the wives I found to be similarly two-dimensional - evil schemers with no redeeming features, although their back stories do make their behaviour more understandable. ( )
1 vote rachbxl | Feb 10, 2014 |
"It's set at a rollicking pace that carries you along with the vaguely soap opera-like plot."
read more: http://likeiamfeasting.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/the-secret-lives-of-baba-segis-wiv.... ( )
  mongoosenamedt | Apr 18, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lola Shoneyinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tarasconi, IlariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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for Tinuoye and Yetunde Sheoneyin
....and for Olaokun
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When Baba Segu 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.
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Book description
Baba Segi, a polygamous husband in modern-day Nigeria, believes his three wives and numerous children are a sign of his prosperity, success, and manhood, but his peaceful domain unravels when he brings home Bolanle, a quiet, college-educated woman as his fourth wife.
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Baba Segi's fourth wife, the young, college-educated Bolanle, sends his household into turmoil, causing his other three wives to become jealous and resentful and to plot her downfall.

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