, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ayobami Adebayo’s debut finalist Bailey’s Women Prize novel, “Stay With Me”, about motherhood and patriarchy in an upper middle class family during the cultural and political upheavals in the mid-1980s is a great story. The political coups of Ibrahim Babaginda of his predecessor Buhari are a nominal storyline that principally sets the period. The plot is about a university educated couple that is trying to break from the polygamy and extended family cultural constraints principally imposed by the women victims of patriarchy. The arc of progress for university educated women is evident in Yejide the wife of Akin. After graduation she opens a hair salon, while he obtains office work. In part, this is liberating for Yejide because she is not wholly dependent on Akin’s income, but otherwise both cannot escape male dominance and pride. At the heart of the story is the importance of motherhood in the family and society. It is how Yejide, like her mother is judge.

I do not wish to reveal the plot, although some is anticipated as you read the novel. The story is about characters, particularly the couple and Akin’s mother and brother. Breaking society and family bonds is hard to do. It is evident even in so-called developed Western countries, where women are psychologically, economically, and physically abused by men and the weak women who are their enforcers.

This would be an excellent choice for a book club, or for anyone who wants a good read.