The joys of motherhood brilliantly illustrates why we write entire novels. Sometimes worlds, feelings, transitions, people, countries cannot be captured by a sole sentence or even a review.
This books wrenched my heart, stole my breath and carried me through hope and despair, lives and worlds. It made me reevaluate my relationships with other people. It made me mourn the depravity of the world. It made me dance with hope of the good in life.
“In Ibuza sons help their father more than they help their mother. A mother’s joy is only in the name. She worries over them, looks after them when they are small; but in the actual help on the farm, the upholding of the family name, all belong to the father.”
In this quote lies the heart of the book. We follow the transition from country to city, from child to adult against the backdrop of urbanization and colonialism of Nigeria. At the heart is Nnu Ego, an Igbo woman from Nigeria, whose tale of motherhood and marriage is courageous, heartbreaking and ever expanding. The tale is not a happy one.
In the first chapter her child dies and Nnu Ego is alone and devastated. She gradually recovers and goes on to have many more children, devoting her life to them, especially her oldest son who, according to African tradition is expected to contribute to the education of his siblings. However the times are changing. Nnu Ego grew up in a village, but is raising her children in a city. She has no tools for survival. Her eldest child leaves for America, her husband drinks their money away, and takes on more wives even though he cannot afford it. Everything that goes wrong he blames on Nnu Ego
The title of the book is ironic and really it tells you everything you need to know. It is beautiful, moving and honest. A devastating read.