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The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives    by Lola Shoneyin order for
Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives
by Lola Shoneyin
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Baba Segi lives in Nigeria. He has four wives and seven children. Therein lies the problem. Each wife - except for the fourth - has given him children. Children are an important factor in Baba Segi's life. They prove his manhood, first and foremost.

Bolanle, the fourth wife, has not become pregnant and Baba Segi feels this is a blotch on his reputation as a man. Bolanle has not been accepted by the first three wives and lives a lonely life in a house populated with people. Baba Segi insists that Bolanle see a doctor to discover why she is not with child.

The secret, once revealed, is really not that surprising if one has paid attention to the wives' stories. But the reader can feel the shock that must radiate through Baba Segi.

Lola Shoneyin's The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives gives the reader a look into the lives of a family half way around the world. Sure, the homes are different and the foods not what we would normally eat, nor the clothes what we would feel is fashionable but we are all human and subject to the same whims and wishes and dreams. And are able to be hurt by those we love the most.

This novel is endearing with a well-told story that will stay with you. Shoneyin was born in Nigeria but educated in Edinburgh, Scotland and now teaches English and drama at an international school. She can see both sides of the coin and portrays her own in a gripping way. This is a small book but a large tale.

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