Tuesday 9 April 2024

The Lagos Wife by Vanessa Walters #TheLagosWife #VanessaWalters @HutchHeinemann @najmafinlay #BookReview


Nicole Oruwari has the perfect life: a handsome husband, a palatial house in the heart of Lagos, and a glamorous group of friends. She left gloomy London and a troubled family past behind for sunny Lagos, becoming part of the Nigerwives--a community of foreign women married to Nigerian men.

But when Nicole disappears without a trace after a boat trip, the cracks in her alleged perfect life start to show. As the investigation turns up nothing but dead ends, her auntie Claudine decides to take matters into her own hands. Armed with only a cell phone and a plane ticket to Nigeria, she digs into her niece's life and uncovers a hidden side filled with dark secrets, isolation, and even violence. But the more she discovers about Nicole, the more Claudine's own buried history threatens to come to light.

Previously published as The Nigerwife.

The Lagos Wife by Vanessa Walters was published in hardback on 29 February 2024 by Hutchinson Heinemann, the paperback will be published on 14 May 2024. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

This review was originally published in The Mature Times March 2024 issue. 

Nicole Oruwari left her London home and moved to Lagos with her Nigerian born husband Tonye. She left behind a troubled past, and the aunt who brought her up to became part of the bustling expat wives community.

Named the NigerWives;  these woman are brought together by circumstances. All of them are foreign-born wives of Nigerian men. All of them are married to rich and successful men and Nicole’s home and marriage is especially glamorous.

When Nicole mysteriously vanishes after a boat trip, Claudine, her aunt back in London is worried that the investigation seems to throw up no clues. Determined to find her niece, she travels to Lagos herself. There she discovers that whilst Nicole’s life and marriage appeared perfect to outsiders, there were deep cracks appearing.

Told alternatively in the voices of the disappeared Nicole, and then her aunt Claudine, Victoria Walter pains a colourful and intriguing picture of life in Lagos, compared to Nicole’s early years. Beneath the style and glamour of these women, there is clearly suspicion, tension and a feeling of not being quite acceptable that darkens the plot and leads to an entertaining and rich read. Secrets are layered into the story, slowly revealed with perfect timing and precision.

The author deals with many issues in this dark domestic thriller and does it with style. She has created characters who are often flawed but always feel authentic. As Claudine delves deeper, she also has to face up to things in her own past that have shaped her and her life.

Vanessa Walters brings something extra to the genre in her debut novel, it feels new and exciting and she’s certainly one to watch.

Vanessa Walters was born and raised in London and has a background in international journalism and playwriting and is a Tin House resident and a Millay Colony resident. 

She is the author of two previous YA books and The Lagos Wife.

She currently lives in Brooklyn.

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