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Title: Not So Happily Married
Author: Toyin Fabunmi
Reviewed by: Jenny Nkem-Eneanya
Price: Free on Okadabooks.com
Marriage. The great goal for which young girls are groomed to attain. The joy and crowning glory of a mother who has successfully raised her daughter to the point where she starts a home of her own. The seeming apex of womanhood. The completion and fulfilment of womanhood… or so they tell us.
In truth, marriage should be the culmination and celebration of a love-story. It would be really awesome if people would get married and live happily ever after but the sad truth which is explored in this novel by Toyin Fabunmi is that this is not always the case especially when a marriage is contracted for all the wrong reasons.
I daresay the title has given much away. ‘Not So Happily Married’ is the story of love gone sour between a young couple after our protagonist Omoboye defies her fiancé and carries out an abortion a few months to her wedding. This sets the stage for a marriage filled with angst, rancour and bitterness. Omoboye’s husband is the proverbial dog in a manger. He is deeply grieved and offended by Omoboye’s brazen decision and yet, he refuses to let her go, condemning both of them to an almost hellish existence of mind-games, denials and heartache.
Despite her confident exterior, Omoboye is haunted by a past of which she is deeply ashamed while she also strives to put up a semblance of a happy home for the benefit of friends, family, social status and her clientele.
Her inability to conceive thereafter also brings to the fore how the issue of childlessness is viewed and addressed in a typical Nigerian society. Despite her successful career as a makeup artist, she still feels unfulfilled.
‘Not So Happily Married’ explores several themes that are currently relevant to relationships and marriages. From the issue of the moral dilemma in obtaining an abortion, extramarital affairs, polygamy and the all new status of being a ‘baby mama’.
It delves deeper to address the issue of rape, how it is addressed and the shame the victim feels thereafter. For Omoboye, the shame is buried deep for years while the perpetrator remains unchallenged and defiant. The repercussions from turbulent feelings buried so long also adds a layer to the unravelling love story.
Love and forgiveness triumphs over resentment and fury as Omoboye reconciles with and renews her vows with her husband after a six-month journey of pain, anguish, revelations and the decision to salvage their marriage and start on a new slate.
I like this story because it is not syrupy sweet as one would expect from a romance story. Far from it actually. It tugs the heartstrings and explores the myriad of emotions, actions and decisions that almost every married couple has to make.
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