His Only Wife, by Peace Adzo Medie, is a tale of modern Ghana. Afi is a young woman living with her mother, scraping together a living as a seamstress. Then a Cinderella moment comes: the rich owner of the factory Afi’s mother works at makes an offer of marriage to Afi on behalf of her son Elikem Ganyo.
The Ganyo family see Afi as a traditional Ghanian woman, and one who will be grateful to them for raising her up in society. So they wish to use her to get their son back from the other woman he loves, but who the family strongly disapproves of.
After a marriage by proxy, Afi moves to the capital city of Accra, into a luxurious apartment supplied by the Ganyos – but doesn’t even meet Eli for weeks. When she finally does, she’s all a wife should be, and falls into an immediate infatuation with this rich, handsome man. But as the truth slowly breaks over her, she begins to realize what she really wants, and to set some boundaries for herself.
This breezily told story uncovers some serious issues; the author is a known activist for women’s rights in her home country, and the effects on contemporary women of polygamy in Ghana are explored here. The setting and the unusual storyline are compelling, while the characters could benefit from a little more complexity. But if you are looking for a story of a woman’s journey to herself, with family drama and some steamy scenes mixed in, this would be a great choice.