Peace Adzo Medie | Ghana
Conflicting gender norms. These three words is all that is needed to sum up this entertaining yet maddening book about a young woman who marries a man in absentia! Afi has been chosen by a wealthy woman in her village to be the wife of her son Elikem, who currently is in a relationship with another woman that his mother and his family disapprove of and hope that Afi can lure him away from.
Medie’s book is entertaining. Filled with suspense, quarreling, sex, gossip, confrontation, and romance. All that is needed for a page-turner. But through a wider lens this book looks at gender roles, cultural expectations, the role of immediate and extended family, and the concept of ownership in marriage. Which of the two women is entitled to exclusive love and fidelity from Elikem? Or as Afi eloquently phrases it, “is he a husband or a prize?” When things begin to get contentious Afi finds herself being chastised from both her mother and his family.
There are also other themes that Medie, a senior professor of gender and international politics, has buried in the book that can get overshadowed by the drama. In a situation like this, when do you say enough already? Who’s needs are you trying to satisfy? How much manipulation and shame can one withstand? At what point do you realize and accept, that the marriage you want, is not the one he is willing to give you?
Ultimately Afi makes the best decision for her peace of mind, but thankfully not before she makes her presence felt both personally and professionally. This is a book that will generate strong opinions on the expectations of women to control and influence her marriage, an irony in itself with so many outside distractions.
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