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Introduction to His Only Wife:

Are you considering the book His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie? In this summary and book review, we’re throwing in our two cents!  A quick reminder: Spoiler Alert! Our book summary and review may contain some story spoilers.

First things first: Is His Only Wife a ‘Cinderella’ story?  It features a common girl who’s now a princess. However, this fairytale has an evil Fairy God Mother and a less than charming prince. Is a ‘happily ever after’ ending possible in this engaging story?

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Lake House Livin’ Summary of His Only Wife:

This contemporary novel takes place in Ghana and opens with the line, “Elikem married me in absentia, he did not come to our wedding.” It’s an instant attention grabber, and you’re immediately immersed into the multi-faceted, “proxy” marriage for Afi Tekple and Eli Ganyo. The bride and groom are total strangers. Afi’s a seamstress and the beautiful daughter of a poor, widowed mother. She’s to marry by ‘proxy’ Eli, a rich businessman from Accra. Regardless of how Afi feels about this arrangement her mother and the family patriarch, Uncle Pious, expect her to marry Eli. The marriage will provide financial security for the entire extended family thus leaving Afi with few options.

Eli’s also pressured into this marriage. He works in the family business and his mother, fondly called Aunty, holds tight control over all her children and all the purse strings. Eli lives with a Liberian woman, Muna.  Aunty disapproves of this relationship despite the fact that Muna and Eli have a sickly 4-year-old daughter. In fact, Eli shows no intention of leaving Muna and Ivy.  Nevertheless, Aunty plans the proxy wedding and hand picks Afi in hopes that she might lure Eli back to the family fold.

Immediately after the wedding, Afi’s whisked to Accra and installed in a lavish flat where there’s no sign of Eli. She neither sees nor hears from him for two months. Yet, money, food, a car and driver, and more are at Afi disposal as she waits for Eli to appear. Afi dreams of being the perfect traditional wife for Eli.  Eli’s mother and siblings advise Afi that Eli will ultimately come around and he does..

The Plot Thickens…

Afi and Eli begin with dinners together but their relationship evolves to overnight stays at the flat.  Eli returns to Muni at his formal home after these visits.  Afi, however, is falling in love with her husband.  She becomes pregnant with a son and Eli is pleased with the prospect of a male heir.  Afi believes this pregnancy elevates her status significantly as the only wife.  She insists that Eli remove Muni so Afi can rightfully move into her proper role.  As Selorm’s birth nears,  Afi moves into the home and Muni is gone. Nonetheless, Afi continues with increasing demands that deepen Eli’s resentments.

As the story accelerates, Afi is counseled by a cast of powerful family members and friends on what course to take with Eli. Her mother and others think she’s courting danger as she pushes for greater assurances of her marital stature.  Finally, when a shocking, encounter with Eli happens by chance, Afi’s fairytale story is upended.  And, for Afi, there’s no turning back.

we give His Only Wife 3 of out 4 wave raves

Wave Rave: Lake House Livin’ gives His Only Wife a strong Three Waves Rating!

The Lake House Livin team highly recommends His Oniy Wife as an entertaining beach read.  Peeking into life in Ghana is very compelling. And the contrast between Afi’s rural hometown of Ho and the affluent Accra is a fascinating insight into how African nations are modernizing.  The author’s portrayal of Ghanian gender bias and inequity reminds us that even as modernization occurs, women aren’t the first to benefit.

The reason for a Swells rating rather than a Tidal wave is that the story has moments when it drags.  An example is when Afi’s waiting for Eli to initially show up. Also, there are times when Afi’s demands on Eli feel repetitive and improbable. Perhaps this is intentional by the author to make a point, but for me it slightly detracted from the novel. In the end, I very much enjoyed His Only Wife and recommend it as a worthwhile book to add to your reading list.  The story stays with you long after you finish the book. And I still have some strong feelings about some key characters! Is Eli a Prince Charming and is Aunty a kindly matriarch?  Happy reading as you come to your own conclusions.

Lake House Livin encourages you add His Only Wife on your reading list. We also would love to hear your thoughts on His Only Wife!

About the Author

The author of His Only Wife is Peace Adzo Medie. She’s a Liberian-born Ghanaian and an author and lecturer. She currently resides in Bristol, UK.  Medie has a master’s degree and PhD which she earned in the United States.  She’s a Senior Lecturer at University of Bristol and writes both fiction and non-fiction books about gender and international politics. His Only Wife is a 2020 Reece Witherspoon Book Club Selection.

 Wave Raves Rating Overview:

The Lake House Livin’ team’s offers our own rating scale for reviewing books. In other words, in full ‘beach mode’, we assign one to four waves to a book. Simply put, the more waves we assign, the better we like a book. Consequently, books with Tidal (4 waves) or Swells (3 waves) ratings are our favorites!  Here’s our full scale:

Tidal (4 waves) – excellent book and massive rave

Swells (3 waves) – good book with many great features and enthusiastic rave

Crests (2 waves) – average to good book with some good features, and a moderate rave

Ripples (1 wave) – below average book, “wade in” with discretion

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