Peace Adzo Medie’s 2020 debut novel His only wife, is a page-turning, spellbinding piece of romantic deliciousness. The romance novel does well to tease its readers with a perfect rich man-poor girl love story between our characters Afi and Eli. The story follows the story of Afi Tekple, a 21-year-old seamstress in the city of Ho, and her arranged marriage into one of Ghana’s most powerful families, the Ganyo’s.

From the opening sentence of the book, we’re able to get a glimpse of the entire prospect of Afi’s marriage “Elikem married me in absentia”. That alone sets the tone for the kind of marriage we know Afi might be walking into. the first few pages take us through the colorful, cultural journey that is Afi’s traditional wedding. At first, I’m unsure about Afi’s age, due to the fact her nerves seemed to give the idea that she was far too young to be going through a wedding, arranged or not. The description of the wedding takes us through the different rituals that make up many West African traditional weddings. The elders are front and center, the stressful food preparation and organization, and of course the insatiable wedding guests.

We also get a whiff of what type of family the Ganyo’s are. Although we know little about the rest of the family at this point, the repetitive talk about the matriarch of the family lets us know she’s an all-powerful philanthropist. The divide between the rich (Ganyo’s) and the poor (Tekple’s) was made clear from the wedding ceremony. Medie narrated the air of prestige that the Ganyo’s waltzed with into the Tekple compound.

The marriage is arranged by the Ganyo matriarch – better known as Aunty in the book – due to her displeasure with her son’s choice of a romantic partner. Her second son, Eli had been in a serious relationship with a Liberian woman who was believed to have used voodoo/black magic on him. The Ganyo family had all expressed a dislike for the woman as they all preferred to refer to her throughout the book. She was described as manly, ugly, a smoke-head, cold, and culturally disrespectful. So to fix the situation, Aunty married him off to Afi, in his absence, as a way to bar him from getting married to the woman.

From the third chapter, we’re ushered into the poor-girl-in-a-rich-man’s-world fantasy that excites many readers. Reading Afi’s journey into this luxurious Accra lifestyle was exciting but nothing we hadn’t read in other romantic novels or watched in Ghollywood and Nollywood movies, but reading it was exciting nevertheless. Some romance tropes can never be worn out, it always taps into the fairytale lifestyle many readers long for. I enjoyed reading Afi acclimatize into this new lifestyle and am quite grateful it wasn’t a cringefest of secondhand embarrassment.

From then on, the story teases us all through. It’s difficult not to blush or be enthusiastic about Eli finally warming up to Afi. Prior to them warming up to each other and finding some trust in each other, Eli had barely acknowledged Afi and her position as his wife. So it was remarkably delicious watching them go from strangers to lovers in such a short time. It was in the little things they did together, going to clubs, the physical touch, the words of affirmation from Eli reassuring her place in his heart.

It’s particularly enjoyable to discover the villain of the story isn’t really a villain, but just a badly portrayed woman. It’s not surprising that an all-powerful family such as the Ganyo’s would try to blacklist a woman who was independent and confident enough to not succumb to the family’s antics. Eli’s unwavering love for her independent personality and high sense of value had been interpreted as being bewitched by a foreign woman.

Inasmuch as I thoroughly enjoyed the experience the book gave, the story didn’t feel original, as mentioned before, it’s a storyline that many Nollywood and Ghollywood movies take after. All in all the book also gave off very Crazy Rich Asians Ghanaians, which was the headline review by Kirkus Reviews. I hate that I couldn’t stop noticing the similarities between the two stories after reading that review. It made it a bit difficult to revel in the juiciness of the story rather than constantly compare it with Crazy Rich Asians.

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