I took an interest in this after I heard it was a woman’s prize for fiction nominee last year. I knew virtually nothing about it, apart from that it was set in Nigeria. Then recently, when I decided to read everything on my kindle, this happened to be the first one I came upon.
Stay With Me is about a married Nigerian couple who can’t have children. At the start of the novel we meet the female half of the partnership, Yejide, who is being alerted to the fact that her husband, Akin, is going to be taking on another wife in the hopes that she’ll bear him children. It’s assumed that Yejide is the reason the couple can’t conceive, so another wife for Akin will supposedly solve the problem. It soon becomes clear that the issue is far more insidious than it seems and shock after shock begin to emerge.
The novel is alternatively narrated by Yejide and Akin and there’s also a large time jump towards the end. I think it benefited from this alternative narration, but there was one thing that annoyed me about it: every chapter from Akin’s perspective was filled with sentences that weren’t properly formed, for example here’s a typical one, “Wasn’t sure she was the one at first because there were no shoes on her feet.” That sentence should have begun with, “I”. It irked me.
When I started I thought it’d be a meandering novel about a couple trying to conceive. I had no idea it’d end up the way it did. Shock after shock smacked me in the jaw making this in some sense a suspense.
As the novel was so plot focused there was scant descriptive detail, but surprisingly (even more so for such a short novel) the two main characters were pretty well formed. Outside of the main themes of the novel they weren’t developed, but inside the topics explored we got to know them well, such as their hopes, desires and fears in relation to fidelity and having children.
The novel was nothing that I expected it to be and in the main that was a good thing. If you’re in the mood for something with shock after shock, you couldn’t do any better than this.