The Nigerwife

Vanessa Walters

The Nigerwife
United Kingdom
6 June 2023

The Nigerwife

Vanessa Walters

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

But when Nicole disappears without a trace after a boat trip, the cracks in her so-called 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 her niece, the more Claudine's own buried history threatens to come to light.

An inventively told and keenly observant thriller where nothing is as it seems, The Nigerwife is a razor-sharp look at the bonds of family, the echoing consequences of secrets, and whether we can ever truly outrun our past.


I picked up this book looking forward to a crime novel set in a place I know very little about: Lagos, Nigeria. ‘The Nigerwives’ referenced in the title are a support group formed by all the women who have married wealthy Nigerians and have moved to Lagos to live a life of ease and luxury – maybe. The term made me think of TV shows like The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Lagos is vastly different to LA, although there are some similarities when reading between the lines, and the wives certainly live rich and privileged lives – if materialism is the apex of your ambition.

Nicole is a young Jamaican British woman who comes from a poor and complicated family suffering the fallout of intergenerational trauma from abuse rooted in the history of colonial slavery – which nobody wants to acknowledge, let alone talk about. She marries a handsome, charming and rich (oops, already!) Nigerian man she meets at university in London while she is studying law. Nicole moves to Lagos with him after the birth of their first child.

Tonye’s family are rich thanks to Nigerian oil. They live in a protected, gated community in a society becoming increasingly fragmented, just as the lives of the protagonists also begin to fragment. This is due in some part to the impending civil unrest, but not entirely. There are conflicts around living traditional lives loaded with Western consumerism and behaviours, unresolved family tensions, and loss. The action begins when Nicole goes missing and her aunt from London hotfoots it to Lagos to find out what has happened to her estranged niece.

It is a mystery novel of sorts, with many elements swirling around the characters and their many issues. Predominant are the continuing legacies of the slave trade in and from Africa, appalling attitudes towards women across the board, and a society in great flux.

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