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The Joys of Motherhood Paperback – May 17, 1979


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: George Braziller; 1st edition (May 17, 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807609501
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807609507
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #245,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

A rich, multilayered work of fiction, full of drama and written with deceptive simplicity. -- Essence

About the Author

Born of Ibo parents in Nigeria, Buchi Emecheta is widely known for her multilayered stories of black women struggling to maintain their identity and construct viable lives for themselves and their families. She writes, according to The New York Times, with "subtlety, power, and abundant compassion." Her numerous novels include The Slave Girl, The Family, Bride Price, and The Joys of Motherhood.

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Customer Reviews

Read, learn, and enjoy.
a reader
This book is well worth reading to explore the conflicts of traditional life and colonial life in Nigeria, as well as many other African countries.
Victoria H
Just simply stunning - the story, the author and the writing.
Afro Book Club

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Samuel Hays on August 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
Buchi Emecheta, writes with piercing teeth and gouging fingers: irony, sarcasm, and anger are her appendages: orphan, arranged marriage object, immigrant to England, five children by 22, marriage terminator, single mother acquiring degree in sociology, messaged writer.

The setting for "The Joys of Motherhood" is in Lagos, Nigeria, between the 1930's and the 1960's. Lagos, the capital of the British colony of Nigeria, is primarily Yoruba; the main characters are Igbo.

Change from chiefdoms to the city: "Men here [in Lagos] are too busy being white men's servants to be men. We women mind the home. Not our husbands. Their manhood has been taken away from them. The shame of it is that they don't know it. All they see is the money, shining white man's money"

Community versus individual: The scene is an attempted suicide in Lagos. "You are simply not allowed to commit suicide in peace, because everyone is responsible for the other person. Foreigners may call us a nation of busybodies, but to us, an individual's life belongs to the community not just to him or her. So a person has no right to take it while another member of the community looks on. He must interfere, he must stop it happening."

Religion: "Her new Christian religion taught her to bear her cross with fortitude. If hers was to support her family, she would do so, until her husband found a new job."

War: The context is the forced draft of Nigerians into the army during World War II: "For me to be married to a soldier, a plunderer and killer of children.... I don't know how I would feel if I was asked to kill people who had never offended me."

Men and Women: "God when will you create a woman who will be fulfilled in herself, a full human being, not anybody's appendage?"

Motherhood: "When the children were good they belonged to the father; when they were bad, they belonged to the mother. Every woman knew this."
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
I have to argue with VICTRAV's telling of the book...
Nnu Ego was sent to marry a man she did not know yet - but this was after a failed marriage to a man she did know. Also, Nnu Ego knew her future husbands brother and family - just not him. Yes, Nnu Ego had some struggle in regards to having children but having children is what made her happy and further made her a woman. Her husband, Nnaife, did take another wife, his deceased brothers wife as Ibo custom deemed proper. Adaku - the second wife taken ultimately leaves Nnaife because she doesn't like him. Okpo, the third wife came into their lives when Nnu Ego was reaching her 40's - and instead of offering irrritance like Adaku, offered help to Nnu Ego. Wanting to leave Nnaife and Lagos are thoughts that cross Nnu Ego's mind throughout the entire book but its not until the encarciration of Nnaife that Nnu Ego returns to her home in Ibuza. Having no husband and all her children gone their own ways Nnu Ego's life seems a sad one but in the end, after she passes, her children pay omage to her with "the greatest funeral Ibuza had ever seen." (Emecheta p.224)
A definately important thing to remember when reading this book is not to read it from your culture's eyes but to try and understand another cultures ways.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By IVYMASHA@AOL.COM on March 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
An indept exposure to the challenges faced by an uneducated african woman determined to survive in colonial Nigeria. A story of a woman who went through the trials of life, first as the apple of her fathers eyes and the most sort after bride. Only to be barren and looses her husband to another woman. To hide her shame, she is married off to a man she has never met in the colonial city of Lagos (Nigeria). Read this book and see how she faces the challenges of living in a strange land and trying to abide by two different cultures. The one she was brought up in, groomed as a true African woman and the one she is forced to live in as an adultrated african, spieced with the inferior ingredients of the colonial masters.. You just might be forced to compare her with your mother. Read this book and understand the true meaning of the word MOTHER.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jeanette Jacquez on December 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
The Joys of Motherhood follows the life of the daughter of a Great Chief in Nigeria during the first half of the 20th century. Trying to follow the societal norms of the Ibos Nnu Ego goes through a very hard life. Her first arranged marriage was failure because she could not have kids. He second marriage leaves her with many kids but a very difficult life, in which she stays tied to because of tradition. After trying to survive, in the city of Lagos, mostly on her own, she has nine children and in the end goes back to Ibuza, her home. The title "Joys of Motherhood" becomes ironic because she spends her life dedicated to motherhood but in the end, dies alone and miserable. Her children who have become modernized due to the colonization of the British in Lagos, become a series of disapointments for not fulfilling the traditional way of life.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By "jadeyagain" on March 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
Joys of Motherhood was one of the books I read for my Post Colonial African lit class, and I have to say it was my favourite novel on the course. I could barely put this book down. Emecheta rights in an engaging style that gets the reader wrapped up in the lives of the characters. I found myself cheering on Adaku, hating Oshia and wanting Nnu Ego to break free from the patriarchal system.
This is not the kind of book you read to see how it ends since you know from the beginning it will end in sadness. You read this book only to know the characters and their plight. It even gives you a look at how _men_ are victims of the patriarchal system as well. I fully recommend Joys of Motherhood to anyone who enjoys fully engaging characters.
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