ARC Review Book Review

ARC Book Review | His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie

Title: His Only Wife
Author: Peace Adzo Medie 
Genre: Fiction
Published On: September 1, 2020
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Source: physical
Pages: 288

Synopsis: 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.

My thoughts

(Spoiler free)

Infuriating. Witty. Unlike anything else I’ve read. When I first read the blurb for His Only Wife, I knew I wanted to read it. Afi is a young woman who finds herself in the most bizarre marital situation I may have ever heard of, but sadly is probably more common than I’m aware. But this bizarre marriage leads her on a journey of self-discovery and growth, and it was a joy to witness her transformation.

“Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding.”

Peace Adzo Medie, His Only Wife

Medie’s dry but honest writing style made this novel shine. From the first sentence, I was enamored. I had to know what happened to Afi, and I couldn’t stop turning pages until I found out. She’s a character you can’t help rooting for; her happiness was all that mattered to me. There’s so much I want to talk about, but—and I feel like I’ve said this a lot lately—this is another book that I think works better if you go in blindly. I’d only read the blurb before I started it, avoiding early reviews. I wanted to form my own opinions, and I’m happy I did. It’s also hard to avoid spoilers, so this will be a short review.

The family of Eli, Afi’s new husband, expects a lot from Afi. They’ve arranged this marriage as kind of a last-ditch effort to “save” Eli from a woman he’s in love with that they don’t approve of. They’ve left Afi in the dark for the most part, but she agrees to the marriage out of a feeling of obligation to take care of her mother and extended family. And it’s there in the dark that this story starts and where all the obstacles originate.

If this story would have ended differently, this would be a different review. For me, so much depended on how things wrapped up for Afi, and if I wouldn’t have been satisfied by the conclusion, it would have dampened my whole experience. However, being satisfied doesn’t mean that it wasn’t emotional and impactful. I feel like Afi’s story will be one that I remember for a long time. Diverse and empowering, it’s a story the world needs to hear.

Thank you to the publisher, Algonquin Books, for providing me with an advance copy.

Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)

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About the Author

Peace Adzo Medie
Peace Adzo Medie

Peace Adzo Medie is a Ghanaian writer and Senior Lecturer in Gender and International Politics at the University of Bristol in England. Prior to that she was a Research Fellow at the University of Ghana. She has published several short stories, and her book, Global Norms and Local Action: The Campaigns to End Violence Against Women in Africa will be published by Oxford University Press in 2020. She is an award-winning scholar and has been awarded several fellowships. She holds a PhD in Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh and a BA in Geography from the University of Ghana. She was born in Liberia.

Have you read His Only Wife? Did you add it to your tbr? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Wandering!

4 thoughts on “ARC Book Review | His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie”

  1. Great review, Dedra! So glad that you enjoyed it as much as I did. It’s funny because like you said, a lot of how the story ends for Afi really impacts how I’d feel about the book, and while this ending is probably infuriating as anything… I also get it? And it didn’t bother me as much as it would normally… Although the abruptness left me dealing with this ache in my heart that made me want to scream 😂 *dramatic, I know* Honestly, the more I think about it the more there is to discuss about this book lol I could go on!

    1. It WAS abrupt, but I was just thinking throughout my reading that if it ends a certain way, I would be so mad. (It’s so hard to talk about without spoilers! Ha!) I was relieved that it ended with the possibility of new beginnings for Afi. YES, there’s so much to talk about with this one. 😉

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