Book Review: ‘The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives’ by Lola Shoneyin

My Collection

A collab with +Mahmoudat Sanni-Oba

“Men are like yam. You cut them how you like…”

Brief Insight
The story revolves around a man(Mr Alao), his four wives and children. As the head of the family, he thinks he has everything under control as long as he provides for his family and does the necessary but he couldn’t see past his nose and was in for a very shocking surprise. The writer gives a view of what goes on in an average Nigerian polygamous family. For example; The way the man (the breadwinner) is given special treatment as the head of the family, the importance of children in African culture, hierarchy amongst wives and the secret dislike/jealousy they have for each other, ganging up if they feel threatened by a common enemy, and each with their secret motive. Written in third and first person narrative, the story flows so well and does not alienate the reader. Along the line you develop a kind of personal connection with the characters as they relate their story and share their deepest secrets with you.

What we liked

  • Her suspense game is good!
  • Evoked different emotions from us (A story with a mix of pain, humour, betrayal, anger and sadness). Enjoyed some laugh-out- loud and wide-eyed shock moments.
  • A bold writer—her use of swear words, authentic use of language and the use of descriptive imagery (especially the sex scenes), which gives you a vivid picture and understanding as you read.
  • The idea that sometimes past events/society/life shapes the kind of person we become and our view of certain things.
  • The way the writer touched on sexual/human abuse and through her characters—most especially the female ones—showed how far situations (for example; the stigma of being raped, loss of virginity and abortions) like that can affect people and their state of mind.
  • The relatable instances that show certain struggles and prejudice that women face in African culture— reasons some go into polygamy, seeing it as a form of sanctuary even though it is sometimes like a battlefield. To some extent it could be seen that some women use this to their advantage by having series of tricks and plans tucked up their sleeves but at the same time making the man think he rules everything. There is the irony that the head of family isn’t really the head of affairs.

Ratings: It was like you were missing too much if you dropped the book for a minute. Absolutely loved every bit of it and would rate it 9/10

Audience Recommendation: We feel it’s very interesting and one could learn one or few things from it. It’s a book we would read again and again without getting tired of it. Having recommended it to quite a few people and gotten positive feedbacks, we feel it’s a book anyone can read and enjoy. Make sure you check it out! 😉 xoxo

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

NB: You can get it on


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