“Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding.”
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.
Advanced Praise for His Only Wife
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“A delightful debut novel… Crazy Rich Asians for West Africa.”
—Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
“A hilarious, page-turning, sharply realized portrait of modern womanhood in the most infuriating of circumstances. A gem of a debut.”
—Wayetu Moore, author of She Would Be King
"A unique and unapologetic marriage story that shines with honesty, humanity, power and grace: once you pick this book up, you won't be able to put it down. Medie's urgent, intimate voice is exactly what the world needs right now."
—Mathangi Subramanian, author of A People’s History of Heaven
“Its message bold and its viewpoint appealing, His Only Wife is an inspiring novel.” —Foreword Reviews
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.
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.