Book Review – The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

Book Review - The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives - Lola Shoneyin - Homeland Reviews

Baba Segi is a typical Yoruba man, I am surprised he is not a Chief too (just to add to his color). He derives his joy from the power he has over his household, how much he dominates the thoughts of his wives and his children and how outsiders perceive his manliness. His 3 wives have found ways to make his household work too, and this system is working perfectly until the day Bolanle, a university graduate crosses Baba Segi’s Path.

For some reason, his wives take to her like I do when I see black olives in my food and are ready to do anything to get rid of her. At first I couldn’t understand the intensity of their hate; I mean there are 3 of you already why do you care about a fourth.

Lola Shoneyin does a wonderful job telling this story and the first time the ‘big secret’ is hinted at, the moment I realized what it was I literally screamed out loud. I won’t spoil it for people who have not read it yet, because there’s a satisfaction you get from unraveling a mystery before it is explicitly mentioned.

I really enjoyed all of the characters in this book. Bolanle with her naivety in thinking if she killed them with kindness, she could change the way her senior wives felt about her even though they were obviously ready to kill her. Baba Segi, who I couldn’t bring myself to hate even as he embodied all the attributes that make me wish I could smack some Nigerian men over the head, he is a man that truly believes he deserves to have everything he wants and would never stop to think that he might be a problem to his family because he is the perfect man (this is sarcasm, in case you missed it. Lol!).

I also think Mama Segi is a noteworthy character, I like the fact that she knows what is hers and is willing to go the extra mile to stay in control of it (even if she’s an evil witch). I could go on, every single character is carefully crafted with their own unique stories to tell and as a Nigerian, I could identify real people that fit their attributes. The events in this book could easily happen around you and It feels like an African magic Yoruba film except with much better dialogue and less time on unnecessary drama.

My Verdict

Book Review Verdict

This is the best Nigerian novel I have read so far, I had a plan to read it over the weekend but I finished it in less than 2 hours. It is a real page-turner; very funny, dramatic, and thought provoking, it touches on subjects that as a people we prefer to pretend do not exist.

I would recommend it to any one that enjoys a good story and any Africa Magic addict that might be here; this is a much better option for you. Read a book today!!!

Book Quotes

“The choices we have to make in this world are hard and bitter. Sometimes we have no choices at all.”

“A real woman must always do the things she wants to do, and in her own time too. You must never allow yourself to be rushed into doing things you’re not ready for.”

“Men are so simple. They will believe anything.”

“Only a foolish woman leans heavily on a man’s promises”

Title: The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

Author: Lola Shoneyin

Published by: Cassava Republic Press

Year of Publication: 2010

Genre: Fiction

Pages: 245

Source: Bought

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  1. This is one of my favourite books, I enjoyed it so much that I re-read it thrice and bought it twice. Well, mostly because my friend decided to gift herself the copy that I lent her.

    The big secret really shocked me, it’s a well-written book. I particularly enjoyed how every character had a back-story, the flashbacks were captured well. I’ve been holding my breath ever since for another book by Lola Shoneyin that I’ve become quite faint-headed. 🙂

  2. I totally LOVE this book! I just love the way Lola Shoneyin wrote it in a simple, yet easy-to-relate-to manner. (Forgive me, I can’t find the exact word for that right now. 😉
    Baba Segi always made me laugh with the way he had to empty his intestines anytime he heard bad news! He he!
    Very good book!

      1. Thanks.
        You’ve got a very awesome blog here! I don’t know how to describe it, but you’re all about books. How lovely is that!
        I can’t believe you’re not a writer tho 😉
        Keep up the good work!

        1. Thank you so much…? Anything can still happen though. 4 months ago I wasn’t a blogger, so…