Anna: Thank you to Algonquin Books for sending me a copy of this lovely book! His Only Wife is a smart simply written and beautiful story about a modern woman finding her voice under complicated circumstances.
When Afi’s family arranges a marriage for her with one of the richest and sought after men in Ghana, she is excited and nervous. She finds it a bit strange that her new husband, Eli, doesn’t come to the wedding, but she’s told not to worry about it. From there, Afi moves from her small village, where she shared a tiny room with her mother, into a fancy apartment in the city. Weeks pass, and she’s yet to meet her husband. Slowly, Afi learns more about her husband and the other woman he is hiding. As she becomes accustomed to her new luxurious life, she also becomes obsessed with securing her position as Eli’s only wife.
I loved the simple and straightforward way this is written. There are complicated relationships between the characters, made even more dynamic by cultural expectations and traditions. When she first marries Eil, Afi is completely subservient to society’s expectations and worries about her cooking, cleaning, and pleasing her husband. But as the story goes on, she starts to question everything she knows about being a woman.
Spoiler: The only complaint I have is that everything regarding Afi’s career as a seamstress comes very easy for her, almost too easy for here. There are no obstacles in the plot in regards to her career, and by the end of the novel she has become a renowned designer in a matter of months. Unrealistic? I think so.
Otherwise, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set in Ghana, and I enjoyed the rich descriptions of the customs, culture, and the food. I look forward to reading more by Peace Adzo Medie in the future!
VERDICT: 4/5 books!