Tuesday, September 1, 2020

His Only Wife: A Novel by Peace Adzo Medie

(Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

     Peace Adzo Medie’s captivating debut novel, HIS ONLY WIFE, paints a nuanced portrait of a young African woman who must forge her own sense of identity and worth within the strictures of a less-than-ideal arranged marriage. Medie, who is also an accomplished academic in the UK and her native Ghana and the author of the seminal text Global Norms and Local Action: The Campaigns to End Violence Against Women in Africa, displays a great talent for fiction writing, crafting a deceptively breezy narrative that invites readers into the intimate world of its heroine, Afi—a world that straddles traditional expectations and modern desires. As Afi navigates the pressures of an unusual marital situation, she also learns to exert her own independence in unexpected ways.

     Afi is a young seamstress living in the small town of Ho when she is betrothed to Eli, the
successful son of her family’s benefactor. The marriage has been arranged by Eli’s family in an
effort to get him away from his Liberian mistress, a woman viewed as unsuitable by all. Eli is not
even at the wedding—the couple is married by proxy. Afi moves into a luxury apartment in
Accra, the bustling capital city, but weeks go by without a visit from her new husband. She
enrolls in design school and begins to build a life for herself. When Afi and Eli do finally
consummate their marriage, the attraction and affection between them is real. But, Eli continues
his second life with the other woman, leaving Afi confused about her options.

     HIS ONLY WIFE “is a commentary on the value that is placed on marriage in Ghanaian
and most African societies (and in many other places in the world),” Medie says. “This emphasis
on marriage and its association with womanhood, places a great deal of pressure on young
women and causes many to settle for relationships that are often unfulfilling and unhappy.” At its
heart, the novel is a story of a young woman coming into her own and finding her voice. It also
offers a unique glimpse into a very unconventional marriage, and into life in Ghana. HIS ONLY
WIFE “is also a feminist novel,” Medie adds, “but not in a way that might be familiar to many
readers. This is because Afi’s path to finding her voice is circuitous and not always

     Depicting a way of life that may surprise many uninitiated Western readers, HIS ONLY
WIFE is also “a hilarious, page-turning, sharply realized portrait of modern womanhood in the
most infuriating of circumstances. A gem of a debut,” says Wayetu Moore, author of She Would
Be King.

my thoughts:

I absolutely LOVED reading His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie. It's the story of Afi, a young woman who enters into an arranged marriage with a man from a wealthy family.  His family is not happy that he is entangled with a mistress and is hoping that by marrying Afi, he will finally settle into a respectable life. Except, that doesn't happen. In fact, he doesn't even show up to his own wedding and instead Afi marries him via proxy. Yep, a proxy. How crazy is that?! So, Afi settles into her new married life sans husbands which is strange, but also freeing in a way. She enrolls in school and starts a new life for herself. And then, he shows up. Things take a turn for Afi when she finds herself attracted to her husband. It's obvious that he likes Afi, too. Except, he won't break things off with his mistress. And so, Afi's marriage becomes complicated as emotions become entangled and options become limited. Talk about a difficult relationship.

Medie does a fantastic job of describing Afi's marriage, the Ghanian culture, and the concept of womanhood. She explores the ways in which women find their voices within unhappy relationships and how society plays a role in limiting women's growth. This story is captivating and eye-opening. It's definitely a must-read for anyone looking for their next great read. You won't want to miss out on Medie's excellent writing and her unforgettable characters. Such a great book!!

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book!

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