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“Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding.” Afi Tekple is a young seamstress whose life is narrowing rapidly. She lives in a small town in Ghana with her widowed mother, spending much of her time in her uncle Pious’s house with his many wives and children. Then one day she is offered a life-changing opportunity—a proposal of marriage from the wealthy fa “Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding.” Afi Tekple is a young seamstress whose life is narrowing rapidly. She lives in a small town in Ghana with her widowed mother, spending much of her time in her uncle Pious’s house with his many wives and children. Then one day she is offered a life-changing opportunity—a proposal of marriage from the wealthy family of Elikem Ganyo, a man she doesn’t truly know. She acquiesces, but soon realizes that Elikem is not quite the catch he seemed. He sends a stand-in to his own wedding, and only weeks after Afi is married and installed in a plush apartment in the capital city of Accra does she meet her new husband. It turns out that he is in love with another woman, whom his family disapproves of; Afi is supposed to win him back on their behalf. But it is Accra that eventually wins Afi’s heart and gives her a life of independence that she never could have imagined for herself. A brilliant scholar and a fierce advocate for women’s rights, author Peace Adzo Medie infuses her debut novel with intelligence and humor. For readers of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Candice Carty-Williams, His Only Wife is the story of an indomitable and relatable heroine that illuminates what it means to be a woman in a rapidly changing world.


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“Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding.” Afi Tekple is a young seamstress whose life is narrowing rapidly. She lives in a small town in Ghana with her widowed mother, spending much of her time in her uncle Pious’s house with his many wives and children. Then one day she is offered a life-changing opportunity—a proposal of marriage from the wealthy fa “Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding.” Afi Tekple is a young seamstress whose life is narrowing rapidly. She lives in a small town in Ghana with her widowed mother, spending much of her time in her uncle Pious’s house with his many wives and children. Then one day she is offered a life-changing opportunity—a proposal of marriage from the wealthy family of Elikem Ganyo, a man she doesn’t truly know. She acquiesces, but soon realizes that Elikem is not quite the catch he seemed. He sends a stand-in to his own wedding, and only weeks after Afi is married and installed in a plush apartment in the capital city of Accra does she meet her new husband. It turns out that he is in love with another woman, whom his family disapproves of; Afi is supposed to win him back on their behalf. But it is Accra that eventually wins Afi’s heart and gives her a life of independence that she never could have imagined for herself. A brilliant scholar and a fierce advocate for women’s rights, author Peace Adzo Medie infuses her debut novel with intelligence and humor. For readers of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Candice Carty-Williams, His Only Wife is the story of an indomitable and relatable heroine that illuminates what it means to be a woman in a rapidly changing world.

30 review for His Only Wife

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    A domestic drama that opens up the lives of Ghanaian women, should appeal to fans of STAY WITH ME, as it also analyzes the implications of African polygamous patriarchy on modern women. Afi does not have much. Her father is dead, her mother struggles to support her, her large extended family neglects her, and she is not gifted enough at schoolwork to get into a university. What she does have is her good looks, a good upbringing, and a talent for sewing and design. She is married to the son of her A domestic drama that opens up the lives of Ghanaian women, should appeal to fans of STAY WITH ME, as it also analyzes the implications of African polygamous patriarchy on modern women. Afi does not have much. Her father is dead, her mother struggles to support her, her large extended family neglects her, and she is not gifted enough at schoolwork to get into a university. What she does have is her good looks, a good upbringing, and a talent for sewing and design. She is married to the son of her mother's wealthy benefactor, a marriage in absentia, but the marriage is just another move in the ongoing battle between Eli and his family. Eli loves a woman his family will not accept, and the marriage is their power move to get him to leave the other woman once and for all. Afi is willing to accept this lot because it is the best prospect she has. She moves to one of Eli's homes in a luxury apartment building, leaving her small town for the big city. She works under one of Ghana's best fashion designers. And as her new status opens more doors, she starts to question the role she has taken on. Until she and Eli spend more time together and she falls in love. I have seen some reviewers talk about this book as feminist and it is, but not the way I think people will expect. This is not another story of empowerment, nor is it preaching or advocating. Instead it is a zig zag, an up and down, a maze of a story where Afi begins to understand what is important to her. The women in this book are all different, they have all adapted to a society where even the most privileged of them is subject to the whims of a son or husband or boyfriend. If anything, it is a glimpse of how all kinds of women have adjusted to this kind of world and how they make their way in it. It's a style of novel I like quite a lot, one that opens up a place and time to you, letting you see it in intricate detail. The prose is simple and straightforward, I was surprised to find that I read this very quickly. At one point I just didn't want to put it down.

  2. 4 out of 5

    emma

    i have officially received word that it is my curse to want to read everything compared to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

  3. 5 out of 5

    Anna Luce

    “All men are the same, they only know how to love themselves and to sit on women.” His Only Wife is an engrossing story that hooked me from the very first line: “Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding.”. The novel tells the story of Afi, a young woman who works as a seamstress in a small town in Ghana. When Faustina Ganyo, her benefactor who also happens to be her widowed mother's boss, arranges her marriage to her own son, Afi views it as a great honour and a lifetime opp “All men are the same, they only know how to love themselves and to sit on women.” His Only Wife is an engrossing story that hooked me from the very first line: “Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding.”. The novel tells the story of Afi, a young woman who works as a seamstress in a small town in Ghana. When Faustina Ganyo, her benefactor who also happens to be her widowed mother's boss, arranges her marriage to her own son, Afi views it as a great honour and a lifetime opportunity. She feels indebted to Aunty and wants to please her own mother. Before the marriage Afi is informed of Elikem's particular situation: he has a daughter with a woman from Liberia, whom is hated by the Ganyos. Afi is meant to replace her, to bring Elikem back into the fold of the Ganyo family. Once in Accra, Afi finds herself growing restless. In spite of her beautiful new apartment and her newly acquired wealth, she questions the validity of her marriage: after all, she only saw her Elikem years previously and has yet to meet him as her husband. Her Aunty, her brother-in-law, and her mother try to placate her anxiety, telling her tall-tales about the 'Liberian woman' who has brainwashed him and of Elikem's daughter poor health. When Afi finally gets to meet her husband she finds herself falling head-over-heels for him. He's attractive, influential, and Afi is willing to conform to the role of ideal wife for him. As time passes, and Afi begins studying fashion and bonding with her brother-in-law's lover, she begins to chafe against the constraints imposed by the Ganyos, who time and again tell her not too demand too much from her husband, and remind her—subtly and not—of the advantages brought by her marrying 'upward'. When Afi grows increasingly jealous of the 'Liberian woman', she begins to disregards the Ganyos' and her husband's wishes and demands. Quotidian spaces and seemingly ordinary conversations lead to fraught disagreements and disconcerting realisations. Afi's flashy new abode is the setting of many tense scenes, with her husband, the Ganyos', her mother. The drama 'caused' by the 'Liberian woman' creates a lot of conflict between Afi and her husband (and the Ganyos in general). As Afi grows tired of her circumstances, of being told to be grateful and to sit tight, she begin to crave autonomy and power in her own marriage. While the tension between Afi and the rest of the characters made for some pretty absorbing scenes, I found myself growing increasingly frustrated by Afi. While it made sense for her to be naive, she just seemed to get used to her new life pretty fast (she treats staff poorly). Her devotion verging on obsession over Elikem didn't really convince me. One meeting and she's seemingly in love? Yet, for the majority of the novel he dons't treat her nicely, showing 'kindness' only once or twice towards the end of the narrative. That she believes all the gossip about his 'other' woman also struck me as unrealistic. Given that she's aware of how the Ganyos treat and speak of the people who 'wronged' them, surely she would at one point consider the possibility of those stories being less than truthful? Then it seemed that all of a sudden the idea of this 'other' woman was unbearable to her, when she knew from the very start that he was already in a relationship with someone else (making Afi the 'other' woman). Her character development is kind of rushed. At the end she finally seems to get her act together, but by then I was no longer enjoying her narrative. Part of me wishes that the Liberian woman had also been given a pov, making the novel feel less biased. I also wish that we could have seen more of Afi without the Ganyos (for example scenes while she's studying fashion would have been nice, or even her socialising with more people outside of her apartment). Still, Medie does touch upon relevant issues, such the impact and pressure exerted by family and social expectations, and emphasising the double standards in marriage throughout the course of her narrative. Medie also depicts the sexist attitudes of those in Afi and the Ganyos' circle (a friend of husband says this: “man wasn’t made to be with one woman. You’re a lion, you should have an entire pride!” and I saw red). Love, jealousy, betrayal, and angst add some spice to the story, making for some mostly entertaining reading material. Read more reviews on my blog / / / View all my reviews on Goodreads

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jite

    I have mixed feelings about this contemporary African story about love, marriage, culture and what it means to be the perfect daughter, wife and to “keep your home.” The premise is that Afi, is a young seamstress from a rural town in Ghana who wins the proverbial lottery when she’s selected by her family’s wealthy benefactors to marry their favourite son, Eli, who’s involved with a woman they do not approve of. Afi’s task as the new (traditionally-wed, family-approved) wife is to divert Eli’s at I have mixed feelings about this contemporary African story about love, marriage, culture and what it means to be the perfect daughter, wife and to “keep your home.” The premise is that Afi, is a young seamstress from a rural town in Ghana who wins the proverbial lottery when she’s selected by her family’s wealthy benefactors to marry their favourite son, Eli, who’s involved with a woman they do not approve of. Afi’s task as the new (traditionally-wed, family-approved) wife is to divert Eli’s attentions from the “Jezebel” who’s stolen him away from his family. I was intrigued by this African film industry premise and excited to check it out. The idea was not at all unrealistic to me as I’ve seen similar things play out in real life although not quite with people as cosmopolitanly urbane but I’m not disputing the plausibility. It was a little hard to "like" any of the characters in this book because some of them were a little trope-y but for me which was fine, I don't mind a trope- but they never quite managed to break through from the shell. I really struggled with Afi’s youthful naïveté. I struggled to “buy” the deep-seated love relationship between she and Eli, especially since she went in with eyes open knowing full well there was another woman involved in the mix. Therefore, it seemed a little out of place later when she made it seem like she was being cheated on when she came in as the latter day entrant to the “polygamous” relationship. It didn't really make sense to me as she was built up as knowing the situation beforehand and so, I’m not quite sure what her endgame or expectations were but as a reader, it didn’t feel realistic to me. Again, to be charitable, Afi IS quite young at 21 and also quite inexperienced, so perhaps that plays a role in her characterization and behaviour. Plot-wise to me, there were a few holes and I had questions but not enough that I couldn’t understand what was happening or go with the flow. I just I suppose didn’t get the direction of the book and don’t really understand what it wanted to accomplish. When we were introduced to Yaya’s friends, I expected more to come from that nugget to create dramatic effect. The building of tension between Afi’s family and the Ganyos was fabulous, I only wish more had been done with that potential plot angle. The author was great at creating potential opportunities for tension but she often just releases them without exploring further or stoking the flames so there were lots of moments were my expectations for more drama were built and then allowed to fall flat. The resolution and the conflicts felt a little too easily achieved when a book such as this was BEGGING for more dramatic effect. What was good about this was the writing- it was engaging and breezy, delightfully readable and evocative of the emotions and images the author was trying to convey. It was the literary equivalent of an old-school Ghollywood movie and I was absolutely here for that. The descriptions of contemporary Ghanaian life and African Aunties and Uncles was absolutely spot on. I’m not Ghanaian but I am West African with my own African Aunties and Uncles in the village and I recognized them one hundred percent in authenticity. I loved the observations about city life and city yuppies and the descriptions of the lifestyles, people and places both in the rural and urban areas. This author is sharp and witty in her observations bringing laugh out loud humor to an otherwise frustrating story. I liked the exploration of the themes of money and love which are really pertinent in the global (and African) sugar baby culture. I thought the portrayal of grown, successful men still being controlled by their families was timely as was the incredibly problematic but still very current trend of families selling their daughters into potentially toxic relationships because out of financial need. I thought the advice and opinions of the elders, friends, and cosmopolitan neighbors was a realistic reflection of what actually happens and what would actually be said in these situations. I thought that overall, this was fine and was a good enough debut but I wish the author had really taken it “there” with this book. It was begging for more real conflict and more drama that matched the excellence of the set up. As it is, this is a good story about contemporary polygamous relationships and arranged marriages with modern couples in West Africa and one young woman’s courageous journey to discovering her boundaries with love and relationships. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Algonquin Books.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amy Imogene Reads

    A modern tale of one woman discovering her own sense of purpose in Ghana amidst family drama, expectations, and marriage. I'm not one who automatically goes for domestic stories, so extremely pleased to say that this was such a fantastic read. Characters: ★★★★★ Plot/Pacing: ★★★★ Enjoyment: ★★★★ 1/2 “Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding.” That's the first line. I think it's charismatic enough on its own—it definitely made me want to pick it up—but for the sake of reviewing, le A modern tale of one woman discovering her own sense of purpose in Ghana amidst family drama, expectations, and marriage. I'm not one who automatically goes for domestic stories, so extremely pleased to say that this was such a fantastic read. Characters: ★★★★★ Plot/Pacing: ★★★★ Enjoyment: ★★★★ 1/2 “Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding.” That's the first line. I think it's charismatic enough on its own—it definitely made me want to pick it up—but for the sake of reviewing, let's get into it. Afi is a young woman living in a small, rural community near the city of Accra in Ghana. Her mother and herself have existed on the edges of poverty, clinging to the good graces of their extended family and of Aunty, the rich benefactor of the community. So when Aunty tells Afi and her mother to do something, they do it. Aunty's latest request is more than a passing task, however—Aunty wants Afi to marry her son, Eli. Now there's obviously a catch to Aunty's "benevolence"—Afi also has another purpose as Eli's wife. Eli is currently living with a Liberian woman...who hates Aunty and doesn't allow the family to be close to them. It is Afi's job to lure him away and make him come back into the family fold. Whew. Talk about an intense start to a marriage. Afi was such an interesting character to spend time with, mostly because I found her pure heart and stalwart sense of self to be such a refreshing perspectivee in a female protagonist. This is a novel where it would have been easy to remove the woman's sense of agency—Afi is essentially a bought bride, who is meant to break up an existing relationship and trick her husband—but Afi stands strong. In a reality where she came from nothing and is thrust into a world unrecognizable to her own, she does her best. And her best is pretty darn good... Accra is a big city, with big dreams. It's time for Afi to find herself and discover what it means to truly be free. Thank you so much to Algonquin Books for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rincey

    This book gripped me from page one. Watch my review: https://youtu.be/XUpzX4tXTOA This book gripped me from page one. Watch my review: https://youtu.be/XUpzX4tXTOA

  7. 4 out of 5

    BookOfCinz

    Marriage shouldn’t be a never-ending competition where you spend your life fighting to be seen and chosen Peace Adzo Medie’s debut novel His Only Wife is a book you will read and continue to think about for months to come. The story opens up in a small town in Ghana, we meet Afi Tekple a young seamstress who is about to get married to a man she has never met, what’s more the man does not show up to their wedding because he is on a business trip. How did Afi end up in this predicament? Afi’s Marriage shouldn’t be a never-ending competition where you spend your life fighting to be seen and chosen Peace Adzo Medie’s debut novel His Only Wife is a book you will read and continue to think about for months to come. The story opens up in a small town in Ghana, we meet Afi Tekple a young seamstress who is about to get married to a man she has never met, what’s more the man does not show up to their wedding because he is on a business trip. How did Afi end up in this predicament? Afi’s dad died and her mother was unable to provide for her, they lived on the charity of Aunty Ganyo. They felt so indebted to Aunty Ganyo so when she suggested that Afi marry her son, Elikem Ganyo, her mother forced her to say yes! Afi ends up marrying Eli, moving to Accra to live in a fancy new apartment, having a driver to take her around, starting her apprenticeship as a fashion designer-all while waiting to meet her husband Eli for the first time. Afi is well aware that Eli has another “woman” and a child who he lives with close by, but she is married to him and there are some expectations for a marriage. You have to learn to fight for your husband and never let your guard down Basically Afi meets and falls in love with Eli and sends their entire marriage trying to please and keep him. It is exhausting to say the least. I was enamoured with this book from the beginning. I LOVE books that are set in Ghana and I have such an affinity for Ghana’s culture, I wanted to inhale this book. I felt the premise was strong and the execution equally as strong. I loved that it was contemporary Ghana and a love story. The writer did such a great job of taking us in to the marriage of Eli and Afi and I didn’t want to leave. I really enjoyed this! If you are looking for a fresh, contemporary Ghanaian read, this is it!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kuukuwa

    This is a lovely, excellent, entertaining book! And what a journey! I laughed often, I cried at some points, I got annoyed at and on behalf of the main character. I even wanted to fight some of the characters. I also wanted to fight the author at some point for writing such an unputdownable book (In my being engrossed I might have missed some deadlines and this is obviously her fault, not mine)... and also for the ending (I’ll leave you to judge)! Such a fantastic first novel. Can’t wait to read This is a lovely, excellent, entertaining book! And what a journey! I laughed often, I cried at some points, I got annoyed at and on behalf of the main character. I even wanted to fight some of the characters. I also wanted to fight the author at some point for writing such an unputdownable book (In my being engrossed I might have missed some deadlines and this is obviously her fault, not mine)... and also for the ending (I’ll leave you to judge)! Such a fantastic first novel. Can’t wait to read more from Peace Medie!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nursebookie

    Peace Adzo Medie writes a timely novel about the strength and sacrifices of women for their family, to gain acceptance of the cultural and social norms, as well as, the cost of life choices. Young Afi Tekple's life is about to change. She is given an opportunity of a lifetime - to receive a proposal of marriage to one of the wealthiest families in their small town. Aunty Faustina Ganyo has helped Afi and her widowed mother Olivia, so when this opportunity arose to marry Aunty's son Elikem, Afi c Peace Adzo Medie writes a timely novel about the strength and sacrifices of women for their family, to gain acceptance of the cultural and social norms, as well as, the cost of life choices. Young Afi Tekple's life is about to change. She is given an opportunity of a lifetime - to receive a proposal of marriage to one of the wealthiest families in their small town. Aunty Faustina Ganyo has helped Afi and her widowed mother Olivia, so when this opportunity arose to marry Aunty's son Elikem, Afi could not refuse such an offer. Though she has never met him, she knows this will help her family greatly. Afi enters into this marriage with great difficulty - First, Elikem marries Afi with a stand-in and to make matters worse, Elikem is in love with a Liberian woman named Muna. Though she is settled in a luxurious flat in Accra, it would be weeks before she is to see her husband. Afi easily gets comfortable with the luxuries of her new life - out of poverty. Does she continue to sacrifice in order to secure a better future for herself and her family, or is this self-sacrifice costing her own life's happiness and more? This was a brilliantly told novel with deep characterization, and a well written heroine of our time that addressed significant cultural references, and the injustices relating to gender, class and wealth. This was a fascinating read that I highly recommend.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Oyinda

    I. Can't. Stop. Thinking. About. This. Book!!! This is perfection, okay?! Peace Adzo Medie did the damn thing with "His Only Wife", and I'm so glad I read it! Afi is such an amazing character and I will love her forever, okay?! This book starts off with Afi's wedding to man that couldn't even make it to the ceremony, so he has his brother stand in for him. After that, she moves to Accra where he doesn't even come to see her for a couple of weeks after their wedding, and she has to live in a flat, I. Can't. Stop. Thinking. About. This. Book!!! This is perfection, okay?! Peace Adzo Medie did the damn thing with "His Only Wife", and I'm so glad I read it! Afi is such an amazing character and I will love her forever, okay?! This book starts off with Afi's wedding to man that couldn't even make it to the ceremony, so he has his brother stand in for him. After that, she moves to Accra where he doesn't even come to see her for a couple of weeks after their wedding, and she has to live in a flat, not in their "matrimonial home". A bit of backstory about her new husband, Eli. He's got another woman he's in love with and they even have a kid together. His family really dislikes the woman and paint a horrible picture of her. They handpicked Afi to marry Eli and free him from the clutches of Muna, the Liberian other woman. SO much happens in this book, and I loved every bit of it. There's a rich cast of characters, and the most interesting relationships evolve between/among these characters. At the beginning of Afi and Eli's marriage, he hardly sees her, and she's alone in the flat his family owns. She's under a lot of pressure from her mother and Eli's mother, a woman known as Aunty (who also happens to be Afi's mother's benefactor) to be the perfect wife and to 'keep her husband'. It's so stressful for Afi - tbh I felt her stress so much. There's also her Uncle Pious, a very shameless and useless old man who did nothing to help Afi when her father died, but came to claim "father" after her marriage to a rich man. I love Afi's growth and evolution, and how she became so much more than everyone thought she'd be. My other favorite character in this book is Evelyn. I thoroughly enjoyed the evolution of Afi and Evelyn's relationship, and all the things Evelyn embodies. She is living the baby girl lifestyle, and she is living it unapologetically. The Ganyo family is THE WORST. The matriarch, Aunty, is a controlling and manipulative woman who tries to bend everyone to her will. Her daughter is another very annoying person, and her sons are spineless men that live to do their mother's bidding. Eli, the son that this story also revolves around, is just... I have no words. Muna is a character that was shrouded in mystery for most of the book, and I wished we learnt more about her, or got some chapters from her point of view. Can we get a Muna-centric sequel, please? I'm just so glad about how this book ended and how the story played out.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Read In Colour

    "Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding." When I read those words, I thought surely this novel was set in the past because who does that in the present. While the book is set in the past, it's not in the distant past, it's 2014. The bride, Afi, has been given a mission by the family of her betrothed - force the break up of your husband and his girlfriend and return him to the family fold. That's not a small order, is it? But it seems a small price to pay for all Aunty Faus "Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding." When I read those words, I thought surely this novel was set in the past because who does that in the present. While the book is set in the past, it's not in the distant past, it's 2014. The bride, Afi, has been given a mission by the family of her betrothed - force the break up of your husband and his girlfriend and return him to the family fold. That's not a small order, is it? But it seems a small price to pay for all Aunty Faustina Ganyo has done for Afi and her mother. And it's a win-win for Afi. She gets to leave her small town for Accra and an opportunity to study fashion design. Indeed, a small price to pay for marrying someone you've only met in passing and never with the intention of marrying him. Initially I thought His Only Wife might be reminiscent of Lola Shoneyin's The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives, but that notion is quickly disavowed with Afi's arrival in Accra. While the author's description of Afi's life back in her home town is full of family members and detailed descriptions of their personalities, their backgrounds, etc., giving readers a chance to get to know them, descriptions of the people she meets in Accra tend to be more superficial. I never really felt like I got to know them so I had difficulty determining if their motives were sincere. I think I expected more of His Only Wife than the author was able to give. Afi reads more like an impressionable early teen than an adult woman. Her story line is steady in some parts and rushed in others. It's the rushed parts that needed more detail and consistency to give the book some balance.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Egle Cesnulyte

    His Only Wife is a great book – I could not put it down once I started! I am a scholar who studies how women make decisions and manifest their agency in difficult circumstances, and this book spoke so much to the ideas I explore in my work! The main character is not a woman I loved or understood all the time in the book, and I found myself asking a lot of questions while following with a great interest what would she do next (spoiler – not always what I would have done if I were in her shoes!). His Only Wife is a great book – I could not put it down once I started! I am a scholar who studies how women make decisions and manifest their agency in difficult circumstances, and this book spoke so much to the ideas I explore in my work! The main character is not a woman I loved or understood all the time in the book, and I found myself asking a lot of questions while following with a great interest what would she do next (spoiler – not always what I would have done if I were in her shoes!). But that is the whole reason why this book is so great – it does a beautiful job in revealing how complex lives are, how these complications make us take different decisions, and how personal growth and coming to age happens while juggling not only personal relations and family dynamics, but also greater socio-economic and cultural structures while trying to make the most of it all. It is time we move away from simplistic understandings of what empowerment or correct feminisms are, and this book contributes to that effort beautifully. His Only Wife will definitely be on the list of fiction recommended to my students interested in gender politics. I also appreciated the style in which the book is written – it reads so well that I often read more than what I initially planned (one chapter at the bedtime turning into two or even three…). The characters are very well developed, and I was starting to like or hate some of them with Afi throughout the story (was surprised to realise how much dislike I have developed towards the uncle by the end of the book!). Peace Adzo Medie wrote an amazing book, you all should read it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    This is Peace Adzo Medie's impressive first novel, which follows follows twenty-one-year-old seamstress Afi, from a family in grinding poverty. She gets an apparent Cinderella deal when a wealthy woman who contributes a lot of the neighborhood poor arranges a marriage between Afi to her handsome son Eli, a wealthy businessman. But as days go by and Afi hasn’t actually met her husband, but hears of him always elsewhere, and with another woman (whom his mother despises), that Afi begins to realize This is Peace Adzo Medie's impressive first novel, which follows follows twenty-one-year-old seamstress Afi, from a family in grinding poverty. She gets an apparent Cinderella deal when a wealthy woman who contributes a lot of the neighborhood poor arranges a marriage between Afi to her handsome son Eli, a wealthy businessman. But as days go by and Afi hasn’t actually met her husband, but hears of him always elsewhere, and with another woman (whom his mother despises), that Afi begins to realize that she is not a Cinderella, and she takes the first steps toward directing her own life. I’m far too ignorant about Ghanan history and culture to comment on how accurate the depiction was, but it felt realistic in all its details, especially the influence of all the African Aunties and Uncles. These intense familial relationships matched others readings I’ve done, conveying a strong sense of authenticity—especially with respect to the portrayal of wealthy, strong men, who are deemed the absolute monarchs of their families, and yet they are still cowed by their mothers and aunties. This seeming contradiction is met with in numerous other cultures in which extended family is the strongest binding between people, particularly people with one foot in traditional culture and another in contemporary ways. Unfortunately, equally common is the trend of families selling their daughters into situations that general gossip acknowledges as potentially troubling, out of sheer financial necessity. It’s not that the daughters are hated. The depiction of conversations with elders, close family friends, and the various neighbors that Afi meets, seem to be a realistic depiction of the layers of culture, tradition, vs. need and ambition. Yes, it’s often pointed out that it’s always young women who are sacrificed to these marriages intended to (as it was said in the eighteenth century) “bring up” the family, but on the other hand it’s the young men who are sacrificed on the battlefield. Medie’s novel enlightens the reader as we follow Afi in her bid to take charge of her life, creating an unforgettable read. Copy provided by NetGalley

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)

    I could barely put HIS ONLY WIFE by Peace Adzo Medie down once I started it, I truly inhaled this story! 👀 It’s been on my radar ever since Wayétu Moore recommended it on her book tour. . We are following Afi, a young seamstress in Ghana, whose marriage (sans her now-husband!) opens the book. Yes, you read that correctly! 🙃 She moves from her hometown of Ho to live in Accra, and adjusts to life in the city for the most part without having met her husband. Her marriage has brought her family a much I could barely put HIS ONLY WIFE by Peace Adzo Medie down once I started it, I truly inhaled this story! 👀 It’s been on my radar ever since Wayétu Moore recommended it on her book tour. . We are following Afi, a young seamstress in Ghana, whose marriage (sans her now-husband!) opens the book. Yes, you read that correctly! 🙃 She moves from her hometown of Ho to live in Accra, and adjusts to life in the city for the most part without having met her husband. Her marriage has brought her family a much-awaited sense of financial security, but the personal cost to Afi is so much. She waits in a house and prepares meals for a man that she doesn’t even know will turn up at the end of a day. For example, there are scenes where other characters ask her to be home on a given day, and when she asks what time, is given a surprised response—the assumption being that she will just be around and waiting with nothing of her own to be doing otherwise. Ultimately she also contends with the fact that she is not the only woman with affections, and a claim of sorts, on her husband. But Afi has a burgeoning career in the fashion industry, and an entrepreneurial venture that she builds amidst all this. . I really loved the way her character is developed in this narrative—Afi grows from being so timid and unsure, her early dialogue hesitant and full of trepidation, to really coming into her own in an empowering full-circle journey. The audiobook narrator captures this shift particularly well and the tone of her dialogue was superbly narrated to reflect this move in the prose itself. . I highly recommend checking out this debut, it is a fast paced story and Afi is a character you’ll be rooting for almost immediately! Many thanks to @algonquinbooks for sending this one my way to review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cortney

    “Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding.” Dear Afi, when your husband didn’t show up to the wedding that should have been your first clue that “something something just ain’t right.” Stayed up late to finish this book. My emotions were in shambles. Crazy situation all around that I will never understand but I was proud of Afi in the end for standing up for herself. Recommended for those looking for a complex but entertaining marriage story.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I grabbed this book as soon as I saw that Reese Witherspoon had chosen it for her book club. This was such an interesting book. It is not my typical read. But I really enjoyed it. The narrator is 21 year old seamstress Afi (1st person POV). The book takes place in Ghana (Africa). Afi has lived with her mom who is a widow. They are deeply indebted to Aunty (a rich woman who helps them). Aunty's son is Eli. And she wants to arrange a marriage for Eli and Afi. I was extremely intrigued by the culture I grabbed this book as soon as I saw that Reese Witherspoon had chosen it for her book club. This was such an interesting book. It is not my typical read. But I really enjoyed it. The narrator is 21 year old seamstress Afi (1st person POV). The book takes place in Ghana (Africa). Afi has lived with her mom who is a widow. They are deeply indebted to Aunty (a rich woman who helps them). Aunty's son is Eli. And she wants to arrange a marriage for Eli and Afi. I was extremely intrigued by the culture depicted in this book. And I was fascinated by the idea of an arranged marriage. Also there is a huge part of this book that has to do with another woman. And I really found everything about this part of the story to be really interesting. Also I really liked Afi as a narrator. She was strong and determined. And I adored her. I loved that Eli's family was so wealthy. It added another dimension to the book. Overall, I really enjoyed this story. It was really different. And I'm so happy that I read it. Also what a pretty cover! Thanks to edelweiss and Algonquin Books.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Maj

    This is a story of a young woman who defies her husband, family and culture to arrive at her goal; but does that goal mean there is an end with shocking pain, or a shocking pain with no end? Rarely have I read a book written with so much apparent love for the story being told. Ghana, Accra, Ho, the markets, the language and customs are so beautifully relayed that they become a colorful back drop vice distracting side-line to the chronicles of a young woman finding her voice and way. Loved the sto This is a story of a young woman who defies her husband, family and culture to arrive at her goal; but does that goal mean there is an end with shocking pain, or a shocking pain with no end? Rarely have I read a book written with so much apparent love for the story being told. Ghana, Accra, Ho, the markets, the language and customs are so beautifully relayed that they become a colorful back drop vice distracting side-line to the chronicles of a young woman finding her voice and way. Loved the story, loved the way the story was told, and will definitely be following this author through what I hope are years of authoring! (For what it's worth, I am also looking forward to trying some of the ethnic dishes Peace mentions in the near future!)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jypsy

    Thank you to Algonquin for an advanced complimentary copy and a beautiful finished copy! And for including me on the book tour! I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own. His Only Wife By: Peace Adzo Medie REVIEW ☆☆☆☆☆ His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie totally took me by surprise. The synopsis doesn't sound like my usual reads, but I took a chance on this book anyway. Thank goodness! Afi is a poor seamstress living in Ghana with her mother, depending upon the charity of Thank you to Algonquin for an advanced complimentary copy and a beautiful finished copy! And for including me on the book tour! I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own. His Only Wife By: Peace Adzo Medie REVIEW ☆☆☆☆☆ His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie totally took me by surprise. The synopsis doesn't sound like my usual reads, but I took a chance on this book anyway. Thank goodness! Afi is a poor seamstress living in Ghana with her mother, depending upon the charity of others to survive. But, Afi has the opportunity to marry Eli, a successful businessman in Accra. It's not a choice at all for Afi. She must marry Eli for the good of her family. He sends a stand in to their wedding (seriously!). Afi is nicely kept in her own place in Accra with an absent husband. He is in love with another woman whom he lives with and has a child. Afi is supposed to woo him away from this other woman because Eli's family dislike her. Poor Afi! The hopes and dreams of so many weigh her down and by no choice of her own. This story is great in that it addresses the expectations placed on women everywhere. Women are not free in their choices because it's always what society expects versus any personal aspirations. Afi sacrificed herself in body, spirit, dreams, goals, i.e. everything. Would you do that? Afi shouldn't have been placed in that situation at all. There are numerous customs, traditions, etc. of other cultures that I will never understand. The plight of women, however, is universal. This book is informative, sharp, humorous and saddening with a heroine to cheer on. Afi is one of my favorite characters ever, and I wish she had a sequel! Well done Peace Adzo Medie! Read this book!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Susan Peterson

    His Only Wife is a gripping story that features a main character finding her true path in life. This is a fast read, featuring vivid and complex characters. I loved learning about the traditions and culture of Ghana.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Crystal (Melanatedreader) Forte'

    So many people can catch these hands in this book. My list is long. Read this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Craig David

    I loved this book. Afi was so endearing, strong, and relatable. It is such a intricate relationship between Afi and Elikem that is explored on many different levels through many different situations. I loved that I was able to laugh and experience a wide range of emotions. I will definitely read anything Peace Adzo Media puts out.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lorrea - WhatChaReadin'?

    "Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding." When a book starts like that, you have to keep going until the very end. How can the groom not show up for the wedding? I had never heard of anything like that before. In Ghana, Afi is ready to marry Eli. His family is not happy with him because he is with a woman they do not approve of and he has gotten her pregnant. Afi waits nearly two months before she even sees her husband for the first time. Their marriage is not what she exp "Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding." When a book starts like that, you have to keep going until the very end. How can the groom not show up for the wedding? I had never heard of anything like that before. In Ghana, Afi is ready to marry Eli. His family is not happy with him because he is with a woman they do not approve of and he has gotten her pregnant. Afi waits nearly two months before she even sees her husband for the first time. Their marriage is not what she expected and she puts her foot down about it. But, in Africa, that is not how wives are supposed to act. Will her actions make her husband draw closer to her or further away? Thank to Algonquin and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. This book hooked me from the opening line. How the hell are you not going to go to your own wedding and then wait months to see your wife? I know I could never agree to something like that. I would have felt as if I was left at the altar. Then he has a whole other woman that he and his family promises will be going away, but will she ever? One thing I can say about Afi is that she didn't wait around for her husband every day. She went out and did something with her life. Even though she didn't have to work and she could have sat around the house all day watching soap operas, she chose to do more. She went to fashion school to improve her sewing skills. She had a house built for her mother and opened her own boutique. Even though she was pulled in different directions concerning her marriage, she still went her own way and did what she thought was best for her and her life. I'm giving away a copy of this book, click the link to enter. https://forms.gle/AAbjCrNsGkBb5SkCA

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey Gandhi

    For me, this book is a 2.5 star review. I rounded up for two reasons - the first is the premise behind the book is good. The second is I actually really liked the main character Eli. The good news about this book is it's a super fast read. The bad news is I don't feel the author did a great job executing the story. The writing was just okay for me. I really, really did not like the other main character Afi. Please don't murder me for my opinion here.... she is supposed to be a strong female lead For me, this book is a 2.5 star review. I rounded up for two reasons - the first is the premise behind the book is good. The second is I actually really liked the main character Eli. The good news about this book is it's a super fast read. The bad news is I don't feel the author did a great job executing the story. The writing was just okay for me. I really, really did not like the other main character Afi. Please don't murder me for my opinion here.... she is supposed to be a strong female lead who overcomes adversity. I didn't see her that way. I felt she came across as more of an immature girl throwing tantrums. The situation Afi was placed in was a bad one, no doubt about it. It wasn't right or fair. The manner in which she handled her situation I wasn't a fan of. That was a frustrating part of the story for me. Overall, not a book I'd recommend.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kathi

    Absolutely amazing. I loved the writing and the story arc, the characters were so real and alive. I could taste the food, see the homes, feel the anger and frustration of Afi. Everything I loved in a book while also introducing me to a new culture.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dini - dinipandareads

    4.5 stars so glad that this didn't pass under my radar. i wasn't ready for how emotional this would make me but what a fabulous read! RTC (tomorrow).

  26. 5 out of 5

    Katie Mac

    I received an eARC of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. "I'd never had a white person do anything for me before. What a day." This is Peace Adzo Medie's first novel, and it's a strong debut. The novel follows twenty-one-year-old Afi, who marries Eli, the son of a wealthy woman who has helped Afi's family in the past. Medie does a great job highlighting not only the cultural aspects of Ghana, but also the disparities between men and women, wealthy and poor, and those who f I received an eARC of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. "I'd never had a white person do anything for me before. What a day." This is Peace Adzo Medie's first novel, and it's a strong debut. The novel follows twenty-one-year-old Afi, who marries Eli, the son of a wealthy woman who has helped Afi's family in the past. Medie does a great job highlighting not only the cultural aspects of Ghana, but also the disparities between men and women, wealthy and poor, and those who follow social and patriarchal norms and those who don't. Afi started out as irritating, but I grew to love her and her spirit as the novel progressed; it was refreshing to watch her business acumen and design skills grow. The ending is surprisingly satisfying too.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jamiere

    I am very pleased with the author’s style of writing. This was an easy to read and honestly, I had trouble putting the book down- because I was into all the drama and always eager to find out what was going to happen next. I love the journey of emotions the book took me through. The strength of the main character is very empowering and pinnacles the ever resilience of a woman. Also, the acknowledgement of experiences in marriages; especially of this distinct cultural setting, makes the novel so r I am very pleased with the author’s style of writing. This was an easy to read and honestly, I had trouble putting the book down- because I was into all the drama and always eager to find out what was going to happen next. I love the journey of emotions the book took me through. The strength of the main character is very empowering and pinnacles the ever resilience of a woman. Also, the acknowledgement of experiences in marriages; especially of this distinct cultural setting, makes the novel so refreshing and gives an unadulterated insight into some struggles. This was such an amazing read! And to think this is a first time author?! I look forward to more great reads. Peace Medie has made an epic debut to fiction!!!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Debby

    This was a first time read of this author, Peace Adzo Medie. His Only Wife was very interesting and I for the most part thought it was going to be interesting but felt disappointed. I had a hard time with this story because of the complicated females in the book...and with the men too. I tried to like the characters, however the main male character angered me the most. I did have some sympathy for the absentia wife. Frankly, this was just not my cup of tea although I thought it was well-written. I This was a first time read of this author, Peace Adzo Medie. His Only Wife was very interesting and I for the most part thought it was going to be interesting but felt disappointed. I had a hard time with this story because of the complicated females in the book...and with the men too. I tried to like the characters, however the main male character angered me the most. I did have some sympathy for the absentia wife. Frankly, this was just not my cup of tea although I thought it was well-written. I thank Netgalley and Algonquin Books for this ARC in exchange for my fair and honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. 2-Stars

  29. 4 out of 5

    Susan McGrath

    I received an Advance Reading Copy of His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie from the publisher (Algonquin Books). His Only Wife is scheduled for release on September 1, 2020. His Only Wife begins with a wedding in Ghana. Afi has been proposed to by the family of Eli, which she agrees to. Eli’s family hopes Afi can win Eli away from the woman they do not approve of. On her wedding day, Afi is dressed and ready, does all expected of her as a bride, and is married to Eli by a representative of the famil I received an Advance Reading Copy of His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie from the publisher (Algonquin Books). His Only Wife is scheduled for release on September 1, 2020. His Only Wife begins with a wedding in Ghana. Afi has been proposed to by the family of Eli, which she agrees to. Eli’s family hopes Afi can win Eli away from the woman they do not approve of. On her wedding day, Afi is dressed and ready, does all expected of her as a bride, and is married to Eli by a representative of the family. Eli is not present. Once married, Afi is set up in a lovely apartment, given money for her needs, and left to wait for her husband. How is Afi supposed to win the love of a man she has yet to meet? We spend the entirety of this novel with Afi. We get to know her desires (to become a designer with her own shop), understand her relationships with her family (her widowed mother intermittently lives with her while her uncle demands gifts and money), and pine along with her for the man who remains just out of reach. Eli remains more of a mystery throughout the book. This is as it should be, as Afi never really gets to know him any better than we do. Medie did a great job of representing the world of this story. I have never been to Ghana, and am unfamiliar with the social norms, customs, and environment. I got all of those through this story, which allowed me to create a mental picture of the world as Afi sees it.While many of the social questions raised in this novel are specific to Ghana, the heart of the novel is universal. Like Afi, we are all working through what it means to be a woman in a constantly changing world. When I began reading this novel, I though it was a romance novel. Before the halfway point, I realized it very much was not going to be a romance (at least in any typical expectation of the genre). From that point, I wasn’t really sure where the novel was going to take me, but I was absolutely along for the ride. In the end, the ending of the story made sense, but left me feeling a bit like something was missing. I sat with the story for a while, trying to figure out what that missing something might be. I still don’t know what I wanted, or expected that I didn’t get. I was just left with a feeling of unfinished. Maybe this is because it is unclear what exactly is next for Afi? Regardless of my feelings about the ending of the novel His Only Wife was a good read. The story took me to a new place while exploring themes that are universal. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys novels about women exploring the line between the expectations they hold for themselves and the expectations the world places on them.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Afi’s life is far from perfect – her father died when she was young, her extended family all but abandoned her and her mother, and while design is her passion, she hardly makes anything as a seamstress in Ghana. She seems content with her circumstances, until her family arranges a marriage for her. It seems that Elikem Ganyo has been living with a woman his family disapproves of and they need Afi to resolve this situation. Aunty had done so much for her family after her father’s passing, how cou Afi’s life is far from perfect – her father died when she was young, her extended family all but abandoned her and her mother, and while design is her passion, she hardly makes anything as a seamstress in Ghana. She seems content with her circumstances, until her family arranges a marriage for her. It seems that Elikem Ganyo has been living with a woman his family disapproves of and they need Afi to resolve this situation. Aunty had done so much for her family after her father’s passing, how could she say no? For the betterment of her family, she commits to becoming the best wife possible. After her husband chooses not to attend their wedding, sending a stand-in as a replacement, Elikem also fails to move Afi into his home, setting her up in a nearby flat. They speak on the phone regularly, but Elikem makes no effort to see Afi in person for quite some time. Once he does begin visiting her flat regularly, their relationship gradually begins to blossom. In the meantime, Afi begins studying design and Eli supports her dream of opening her own boutique. If only he supported her enough to leave the other woman…a thought that nags at Afi daily. Afi’s love for her husband and the city of Accra has transformed her to the core, encouraging her to find her voice and lean into her independence. What the means for her marriage remains to be seen. Man, this was an emotional rollercoaster. I feel like I was rooting for all involved characters at some point. Which is crazy considering how incredibly different all of these characters were. Despite their similarities, they all made very different choices and adjusted to their lives in unique ways. And I have to say, their character development was remarkable – all of them. I like how relatable it was. While I have very little knowledge of Ghana and cannot even stand the idea of being forced into an arranged marriage, I can still put myself in Afi’s shoes. The author did an impeccable job of communicating the ups and downs; the raw feelings of a woman trying to find her place in the world. I have also never read an ending before the was such a beautiful disaster – it is like everyone wins, but literally no one does at the same time. Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Available 9/1/2020.

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