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Review| His Only Wife-An idyllic Western Polygamy


A gilt-edged debut. In his only wife, Peace dares us to see beyond marriage into womanhood, to see beyond love, into commitment.

Set about 2014 in modern Ghana, Peace Adzo Medie at first slowly introduces us into an untypical marriage where the groom isn’t present on his wedding day. The stage set, we aren’t suprised when he don’t see his new bride for weeks although they are in the same town. Neither are we suprised when the going gets tough in the marriage. And he remains a puppet of a matriarchal figure. If Medie story was about this pathetic living. It wouldn’t be worth its hype. But the only wife is more.

The character of Afi inspirés a sensé of rustic stubbornness, once believed to be the exclusive preserve of educated African women. A woman in her early twenties ready to be. Ready to continue being who she really is when it would cost her, her ‘marriage.’ At a point, You are seduced to put yourself in Afi’s shoe over and over when she takes revolutionary decisions against the mother figures in her life. And you would ask, would you really bite the hand that feed you, just to make a point? Would you leave the man you love just because his eye is set on another? The uncomfortable question of the other woman is the ilk even in this tale.

Drawing deeply from the tragedy of what a single story could cause we see how some characters would have been all different if they knew everything they needed to know. ‘I often fantasized about what I would do when I met the woman. These fantasies varied depending on my mood. I would slap her and walk away without saying a word. Or I would give her a vicious tongue-lashing that would leave her sobbing and begging my forgiveness. I would call her a shameless husband-snatcher and a home-wrecker. I would ululate so that everyone around would gather as she huddled on the ground in a public place and join me in humiliating her. I would punish her for all the heartache she had caused me, for the sleepless nights and the tears. But now I just stood there staring at Eli and the only thing that I could think was that the Ganyos had lied to me. They had told me she was ugly. But there she was, the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.’

The tempo of the story takes too long to rise, to give us the conflict the bio promises, but it isn’t till late in the story that it starts off. Yet even in that lateness, it was worth the wait. As each character played it role towards a showdown of decisions. Toga Pious who did everything that should be done to woman when the well to do man of the family is dead. Aunty who is compassionate yet dictatorial. Having the aged bliss of concern and the ancient quest for the minutest control. The only wife for a debut is simple, bold and daring. And it shows African feminism as something that could likely bring hope.


The October selection of Reese Witherspoon’s book club

Runner up for the 2020 Aidoo-Snyder Prize for Best Creative Work.

2020 best book by Buzzfeed, Library Journal, and the Chicago Public Library


Peace Medie has produced several works of short fiction. In 2020, she published her debut novel, His Only Wife. It deals with the struggles of modern marriage in Ghana and the interconnecting lives of three women, Afi, Evelyn, and Muna. It was described as “A Cinderella story set in Ghana” by Kirkus. His Only Wife was well received, appearing on several lists of best new releases, including the New York Times’ Staff Pick. In 2021, she was named “Best Author” by the Ghanaian news station Citi TV at its annual Entertainment Achievement Awards. Medie describes her fiction as being heavily influenced by her academic research into gender, violence, and politics.


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