Book Review: His Only Wife

Overall Rating: 3/5

I typically like going into books blind – no synopses, no reviews, just the thrill of a total surprise. With His Only Wife, however, I did catch a glimpse of a short review that described it as Crazy Rich Asians in West Africa, and its Reese’s book club sticker cemented it as one of my first October reads. Set in Ghana, the plot centers around Afi, an ambitious woman from a struggling family who marries a wealthy man at the behest of his mother…in order to break up his existing marriage with another woman. I had a really hard time reviewing this book since I was prepared to love it and it started out so good, but slowly fizzled out thereafter.

The first half of the book is wonderful – I breezed through it in no time and thoroughly enjoyed Medie’s build up of suspense and intricate depictions of the diverse characters. It seemed early on that His Only Wife had an engaging plot, filled with sardonic humor layered upon social critiques of classism, colorism, and sexism, but it struggles to maintain its charm till the end. Afi and Eli’s relationship is hardly developed and relies largely on Afi’s internal dialogue and growth, much of which is hard to buy into. The protagonist herself becomes fairly unlikeable and the plot lingers in this limbo where the character development seems to halt and the various plot lines start to stale. Perhaps what I was most frustrated with was the loss of opportunity in exploring the perspective of the other woman – there was so much potential in this story and the ending felt anticlimactic.

I am disappointed because I really did want to love this book, but I just couldn’t get there. That being said, the book has come highly acclaimed so maybe this one just wasn’t for me. Did you read His Only Wife, and if so, what did you think?

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