I finished reading The Son of the House today, after getting a signed copy from the author on the 29th of February, 2020 at a Meet & Greet event organized by Aba Book Club.
About The Book
The book starts with a story of two women Nwabulu and Julie who have been kidnapped in modern day Nigeria, it goes back several years to tell each women’s individual story, and then comes back to the start. It explores several themes, childlessness, polygamy, domestic service at would be familiar to anyone who has an understanding of Nigeria and Nigerian culture.
Cheluchi did a great job in narrating the experiences of young girls and women in a patriarchal society like Nigeria, and the gates of patriarchy they had to burn down to survive.
I Almost Took It Personal
Cheluchi does an amazing job of making me really care about her characters and their lives. I didn’t want Nwabulu’s story to end, but became immediately engrossed in Julie’s story as well. I’m looking forward to reading many more books by Cheluchi. Or perhaps a sequel of The Son Of The House. I really am itching to know what happened next.
Cheluchi writes like Buchi Emechata. The prose is simple and witty, yet resonates with deep wisdom. Feminism and gender inequality are glaring in the book, but Cheluchi did her best to not stuff opinions down the throat of her readers. This is the kind of book that I enjoy not just the story, but the telling of it.
The beginning of the story was quite interesting. Two women, Nwabulu (a young woman in her 40s) and Juliet (an elderly woman in her 70s) have been kidnapped and they decided to tell each other their life story as they waited for their release. While telling their stories, Juliet would find out that she is unknowingly the cause of Nwabulu’s biggest heartache.
I loved Nwabulu’s story, it’s a typical from grass to grace story (I hate cliches!). Nwabulu is an orphan raised by a wicked stepmother and then forced to become a house help. She naively fell in love with a rich man’s son and that changed her life forever.
I didn’t find Juliet’s story quite interesting though. Juliet was desperate to get married because people won’t bridle their tongues. She has the opportunity to become whomever she desires. But sometimes too much choice can be a dangerous thing, and in Julie’s case it is. At thirty-four she is still unmarried and, for the first time, there is pressure: a burden that will only be lifted with the birth of a son. So determined is Julie for release that she goes as far as a polygamous marriage.
One of the main themes of the book is female friendship. There’s a special bond between females. I hope females will learn to support one another, bring light, and spread love. The world needs it. If you’re looking for a read about female friendship, you may want to check this out.
I found the book really predictable. I might be wrong. But then, its predictability affected the reading experience. The beginning was fast-paced and interesting but it started dragging midway and I wished Cheluchi kept the same energy from beginning to end.
When I first saw the book cover, I had assumed it was going to be a book about men. I was wrong. It is a book about women – dissecting their traumas and victories. Nwabulu could’ve been a much better title, but I suppose the author had her reasons.
Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia is a lawyer, academic and writer. She works in the areas of health, gender, violence against women ad children and other social issues. She holds a Doctorate degree in Law from Dalhousie University, Canada. She lives in Lagos. ‘The Son of the House’ is her first work of fiction and an earlier draft of the book was longlisted in Mslexia’s novel writing competition. In October 2019, ‘The Son of the House’ won the best International Fiction Book Award at the Sharjah International Book Fair 2019.