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Like the Real Housewives, set in Nigeria

Cover of The Nigerwife
A review of The Nigerwife by Vanessa Walters

Nicole Oruwari is living in Lagos with her handsome Nigerian-born husband and his wealthy family when she goes missing. Her auntie Claudine flies from the UK to Nigeria to find out more about what's happened to her niece and uncovers a tangled web of wealth and privilege that leaves readers riveted and surprised. At the heart of the mystery are the "nigerwives," a group of foreign-born women married to Nigerian men who regularly meet and look out for each other.  

The picture-perfect families in the novel are tied to traditions and a patriarchal society that values women as wives and mothers with very little or no independent means or assets, no jobs outside the home, and in the case of Nicole Oruwari, a lack of protection under the law. Nicole vanishes into thin air and no one is looking for her, per the request of her husband's family. It's not until her aunt starts investigating that everything begins to unravel.

Told in alternating voices, Nicole describes what her life is like before she goes missing and Claudine tells her own story, piecing together what happened to her niece after her disappearance and how generational trauma affects them both. In addition, the Oruwari estate is near the Lagos Lagoon situated between land and the Atlantic Ocean and this plays a pivotal role in creating a murky and dangerous feeling that transcends the stories of both Nicole and Claudine. This is a sparkling debut novel written by a former Nigerwife and you can feel the lived experience on every page.

Aug 23, 2023