A REESE WITHERSPOON x HELLO SUNSHINE BOOK CLUB PICK
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR
A Time Magazine Must-Read Book of 2020
One of BuzzFeed's "29 Books We Couldn’t Put Down This Year"
A Must-Read Novel: The New York Times Book Review * BuzzFeed * Marie Claire * Parade * Travel + Leisure * Ms. Magazine * Bustle * The Millions * Book Riot * Christian Science Monitor * HelloGiggles
“[A] mesmerizing debut novel.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“A story that kept me tied to the page, told in masterful, seamless prose.”
“I love this book so much I turned the pages so fast . . . It’s all about the search for independence and being true to yourself and who you really are.”
Afi Tekple is a young seamstress in Ghana. She is smart; she is pretty; and she has been convinced by her mother to marry a man she does not know. Afi knows who he is, of course—Elikem is a wealthy businessman whose mother has chosen Afi in the hopes that she will distract him from his relationship with a woman his family claims is inappropriate. But Afi is not prepared for the shift her life takes when she is moved from her small hometown of Ho to live in Accra, Ghana’s gleaming capital, a place of wealth and sophistication where she has days of nothing to do but cook meals for a man who may or may not show up to eat them. She has agreed to this marriage in order to give her mother the financial security she desperately needs, and so she must see it through. Or maybe not?
His Only Wife is a witty, smart, and moving debut novel about a brave young woman traversing the minefield of modern life with its taboos and injustices, living in a world of men who want their wives to be beautiful, to be good cooks and mothers, to be women who respect their husbands and grant them forbearance. And in Afi, Peace Medie has created a delightfully spunky and relatable heroine who just may break all the rules.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
“Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding.” Peace Adzo Medie opens her riveting debut on this bold note. His Only Wife tells the story of Afi, a poor seamstress promised in marriage to the beloved son of a wealthy Ghanian family—in the hopes that she will lure him away from his steadfast but dishonorable lover. Initially, Afi’s reversal of fortune feels like a fairy tale, but as she finds herself fruitlessly competing for her husband’s affection, she begins to question the true cost of this arrangement. Equal parts romance novel and feminist fable, Medie’s novel is a marvelous pageturner. We were glued to our seat, eager to find out just how much Afi will risk to regain her independence.
Medie's busy debut turns on a family drama caused by polygamy in Ghana. Afi Tekple, a seamstress living with her widowed mother in Ho in 2014, is surprised when wealthy matriarch Aunty Faustina Ganyo engineers a proposal to Afi from Faustina's son, Eli. Faustina hopes Afi can lure Eli away from Muna, Eli's de facto Liberian wife, whom the Ganyos disapprove of. Eli, busy with business travel, marries Afi in absentia and the Ganyos move Afi into an apartment in Accra. Afi, recognizing her role as "the key to other people's happiness," pursues her own fulfillment by using the Ganyo family connections to enroll in a prestigious fashion design program. Even after Afi becomes pregnant, Eli refuses to move her into his house and evict Muna, and the pain of sharing her husband with Muna and her responsibilities to the Ganyos pushes Afi to her breaking point. Afi's narration is driven by a series of episodes, from Afi insisting on learning to drive to selling her designs to the country's first lady, and while the relentless pacing leaves little room for reflection on her emotional turmoil, Medie succeeds at channeling Afi's desires and desperation. This stirring tale sings when Afi learns to flex her limited power.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I loved reading this book, but the ending felt like it was half finished. I felt like I was left with a half finished ending.
Beautifully Told Story of a Strong Woman
Loved the novel. The story takes you right to Ghana. I loved the cultural references. I could feel, taste, and see Ghana. Can’t wait to visit this beautiful country!!! Afi is a remarkable, strong woman who I can relate to all the way to fashion design. Her story is compelling.
Wonderful book. A gripping read. Also informative about contemporary life in Ghana. Meaning of family and marriage and the role of women