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The Concubine

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Ihuoma, a beautiful young widow, has the admiration of the entire community in which she lives, and especially of the hunter Ekwueme. But their passion is fated and jealousy, a love potion and the closeness of the spirit world are important factors.


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Ihuoma, a beautiful young widow, has the admiration of the entire community in which she lives, and especially of the hunter Ekwueme. But their passion is fated and jealousy, a love potion and the closeness of the spirit world are important factors.

30 review for The Concubine

  1. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    I really enjoyed this book. I very much liked the two major characters and SO wanted them to be happy! For me, this book is a glimpse into a culture that is not familiar and I enjoyed that as well. The humor of the book is, however, universal--as is the tragedy. At the end, I couldn't help thinking about human beings' relationships with our deities. Gods get to do what they want precisely because they are gods. If we don't forgive them for what they do (as if they care), we must, at least, accep I really enjoyed this book. I very much liked the two major characters and SO wanted them to be happy! For me, this book is a glimpse into a culture that is not familiar and I enjoyed that as well. The humor of the book is, however, universal--as is the tragedy. At the end, I couldn't help thinking about human beings' relationships with our deities. Gods get to do what they want precisely because they are gods. If we don't forgive them for what they do (as if they care), we must, at least, accept it. Amadi gave me a new way to think about selfish and greedy people. Speaking of a greedy person, a character says this: "Like the hunter who was never satisfied with antelopes, he might be obliged to carry an elephant home one day and collapse under the weight." I am accustomed to think of greed as something that hurts others more than it hurts the greedy person, but, yes, it makes sense that greed hurts its practitioner, too. Well, maybe this is what Scrooge learned on Christmas Eve.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nnedi

    I really enjoyed this. The plot meanders and so does the point of view. But that's the beauty of it. It's a nice slice-of-precolonial-Igbo-life story. It's frank (example, it's normal for men to beat their wives and this is spoken of without judgement...of course, I judged anyway. Puh-lease), yet loving (you can tell that the author is proud of his culture, bumps, scars and all). It's refreshing to not see any Europeans sneak in to disrupt things, haha. And it's a really interesting read when yo I really enjoyed this. The plot meanders and so does the point of view. But that's the beauty of it. It's a nice slice-of-precolonial-Igbo-life story. It's frank (example, it's normal for men to beat their wives and this is spoken of without judgement...of course, I judged anyway. Puh-lease), yet loving (you can tell that the author is proud of his culture, bumps, scars and all). It's refreshing to not see any Europeans sneak in to disrupt things, haha. And it's a really interesting read when you consider the interplay of cultural and traditional beliefs and destiny and free will and deities. Was Iheoma so lovely because she quietly suffered? Why was she not allowed happiness? My only issue was with the title. Why is this novel called The Concubine when there are no concubines? Lol. Still, it's a great classic Nigerian novel. :-)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jerome Kuseh

    One of my favourite books. This book is a masterpiece. Though I read it too long ago to write a proper review, I can remember enjoying this tragic tale of a woman who's married in the spiritual realm, thus any man who marries her is doomed to ruin from the vengeance of her spiritual husband. Highly recommended.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Esther Neema Mumo

    A book that took my attention all the way to the end. It was amazing. It introduced me to loving African literature. I loooooooved it :)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Madolyn Chukwu

    What a wonderful lady Ihuoma is in this book! Despite the fact that she is rustic and illiterate (in the western sense) - and never mind the idea that she is the woman of a 'god' - she is such a lovely woman. Not only is she very beautiful, but she is so well behaved and courteous. Even when her potential (second) father in law sort of disrespects her, she is still as dignified as ever and courteous. It is no wonder that so many men were crazy over her, again never minding the fact that she alre What a wonderful lady Ihuoma is in this book! Despite the fact that she is rustic and illiterate (in the western sense) - and never mind the idea that she is the woman of a 'god' - she is such a lovely woman. Not only is she very beautiful, but she is so well behaved and courteous. Even when her potential (second) father in law sort of disrespects her, she is still as dignified as ever and courteous. It is no wonder that so many men were crazy over her, again never minding the fact that she already had children. The author is so good that all he depicts is convincing, including of course the portrait of charming Ihuoma.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Eva

    Tragic seems to be intertwined in Ihuoma's life. She doesn't even know her story till Anyika the powerful medicine man mentions it. The spirit world is after her every lover. The jealousy of her husband the Sea-King won't let his wife enjoy the love life. They can only survive if she becomes a CONCUBINE. When I finished reading this book I was really hoping there would have been a part 2 as suspense makes one guess what could have happened after Ekwueme's death. This book explores traditions, be Tragic seems to be intertwined in Ihuoma's life. She doesn't even know her story till Anyika the powerful medicine man mentions it. The spirit world is after her every lover. The jealousy of her husband the Sea-King won't let his wife enjoy the love life. They can only survive if she becomes a CONCUBINE. When I finished reading this book I was really hoping there would have been a part 2 as suspense makes one guess what could have happened after Ekwueme's death. This book explores traditions, beliefs, gender roles, love and culture in an African setting with a twist of conspiracy, jealousy, greed, hatred and liberation.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dora Okeyo

    "Would you agree to be a concubine instead of someone's wife?" That's the question that if turned around- Ekwe refused to accept- he loved Ihuoma and would rather marry her than simply have her as his concubine regardless of the fact that she already belongs to a Sea King. I wanted to read this book because of one thing: It's a production of the African Writers Series. I loved the narration and how events unfold slowly all the way to the end where you understand why Ihuoma's male admirers die very "Would you agree to be a concubine instead of someone's wife?" That's the question that if turned around- Ekwe refused to accept- he loved Ihuoma and would rather marry her than simply have her as his concubine regardless of the fact that she already belongs to a Sea King. I wanted to read this book because of one thing: It's a production of the African Writers Series. I loved the narration and how events unfold slowly all the way to the end where you understand why Ihuoma's male admirers die very mysterious deaths. It's a great read and I'd read it again, because it dwells on aspects of culture and customs of people in Nigeria and it's well told- you just can't put this down.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chioma Bethel

    This was my first adult novel, i read it at age 8 and it was the text for my senior secondary school exams. i am still as enthralled as i was by the ill-fated love between Ihuhoma and Ekwueme. i read the book so many times that it fell apart. For me, it was a book set in the traditional village community untouched by colonization and its adverse effects. i recall with nostalgia the little boy whose favorite past time was to hunt lizards. i do not have a copy now but i hope to get one soon as it This was my first adult novel, i read it at age 8 and it was the text for my senior secondary school exams. i am still as enthralled as i was by the ill-fated love between Ihuhoma and Ekwueme. i read the book so many times that it fell apart. For me, it was a book set in the traditional village community untouched by colonization and its adverse effects. i recall with nostalgia the little boy whose favorite past time was to hunt lizards. i do not have a copy now but i hope to get one soon as it is one of my favorite African writers' series book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I read this fascinating novel for the Africa Reading Challenge hosted by Kinna Reads: Elechi Amadi is a notable Nigerian author who writes in English. The Concubine (1966) is one of his five novels, the others being The Great Ponds, The Slave, Isiburu and Estrangement. According to Wikpedia, ‘Amadi’s novels are generally about African village life, customs, beliefs and religious practices, as they were before contact with the Western world’ and this is certainly true of The Concubine. There is n I read this fascinating novel for the Africa Reading Challenge hosted by Kinna Reads: Elechi Amadi is a notable Nigerian author who writes in English. The Concubine (1966) is one of his five novels, the others being The Great Ponds, The Slave, Isiburu and Estrangement. According to Wikpedia, ‘Amadi’s novels are generally about African village life, customs, beliefs and religious practices, as they were before contact with the Western world’ and this is certainly true of The Concubine. There is no mention of any western influences or events, and the novel has a timeless quality. The rhythms of village life seem eternal, and the routines immutable. Characters have speech patterns that reflect (presumably) old ways of thinking and talking, and they use greetings that seem charming, such as the call and response used when parting at evening: ‘May the day break/May it break’. Before long the reader is captivated by this tale of doomed love. To read the rest of my review, please visit http://anzlitlovers.com/2012/06/09/th...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nathan "N.R." Gaddis

    RIP http://www.complete-review.com/saloon... RIP http://www.complete-review.com/saloon...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nick Dasher

    The Concubine is a simple story, and yet somehow spellbinding. Amadi has a rare talent for building up his characters through realistic, naturally flowing conversations and has a sense of how people react to different situations. He is clearly proud of his culture and wants to tell the reader about it, but refrains from lavishing extended explanations of African life and society that too many novels force on the reader. Rather, Amadi focuses on telling his story purely and directly, and the insi The Concubine is a simple story, and yet somehow spellbinding. Amadi has a rare talent for building up his characters through realistic, naturally flowing conversations and has a sense of how people react to different situations. He is clearly proud of his culture and wants to tell the reader about it, but refrains from lavishing extended explanations of African life and society that too many novels force on the reader. Rather, Amadi focuses on telling his story purely and directly, and the insights into the village's way of life follow naturally. And what marvelous insights they are. Amadi is, if nothing else, an honest writer. He is certainly aware of the Western world's unfavorable views on sexism, wife-beating, and superstition, and he acknowledges that some of these are wrong (he makes no apologies for the superstition). However, he does very well to show how precarious these villagers situation is, and the reader comes to understand that their culture is a result of their circumstances. He doesn't make excuses for his people's flaws, but he gently reminds the reader that they should not judge people from such a radically different culture until they have experienced it themselves. Ultimately he treats both his readers and his characters with respect. The best of his characters, though unashamedly primitive, are dignified, considerate, and moral, while those who are not are ostracized from the community. Ihuoma's displays of grace and composure in trying circumstances are moving. Ekwueme, on the other hand, is far from perfect, but he's likable and his flaws give him humanity. It seems odd to say that I could relate to the plight of someone living in a mud hut in Nigeria, but I felt like I understood this guy. Unfortunately the work is held back a bit by a number of grammatical errors ('two' instead of 'too' was the worst) and a few minor plot holes (Ekwueme is given a female dog after his first marriage, but another character later says that he has no dogs). Also, I found the ending to be extremely abrupt, although that may have been intentional. Nevertheless, I have a feeling this will be on of those stories that sticks with me. I'll probably reread The Concubine several times in my lifetime to reenter Amadi's world and enjoy his refreshingly direct, understated prose.

  12. 5 out of 5

    meandermind

    I enjoyed this. I'm concerned about the title though, because not ever is Ihuoma a concubine. She's married, and widowed, and then some other things that I don't want to spoil but never a concubine. What's up with that, title? Also, it's very similar to Chinua Achebe in style and of course setting, not as much old sayings in Amadis book though. I found it a bit less critical, or maybe just with less insight than Guds pil which is the latest Achebe I read. In The Concubine, the reader is completel I enjoyed this. I'm concerned about the title though, because not ever is Ihuoma a concubine. She's married, and widowed, and then some other things that I don't want to spoil but never a concubine. What's up with that, title? Also, it's very similar to Chinua Achebe in style and of course setting, not as much old sayings in Amadis book though. I found it a bit less critical, or maybe just with less insight than Guds pil which is the latest Achebe I read. In The Concubine, the reader is completely immersed in the faiths and traditions of the village. You trust the medicine man, because he is the authority in this place, and somehow that makes for quite a magical experience. The people are ordinary people, very relatable even though my life is very different than from a 1700s yams farmer in Africa. The spirits and surroundings magical. The conclusion is very Greek tragedy, you know the prophecy that everyone does everything to avoid ends up coming true because of the actions one took against the prophecy, and bitch you know I live for that shit! Irony and fate, hell yea! It doesn't get more than an "I liked it", though, because it just didn't move me as Achebes book did.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Timendu

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. My husband loves this book. Ithink it's okay. I read it a long time ago though so who knows what a another reading will do to my opinion. A book about a young woman with man trouble of the traditional, spiritual kind is a story not uncommon in these parts and has made many a spiritual man whether pastor, prophet or village priest wealthy. However, it is masterfully told and carries you along completely.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Yewande Akeredolu

    I looked for this book for almost two years and I was excited to finally get it. Good book, but there was just something I did not quite like - the ending, maybe.

  15. 4 out of 5

    KennedyEzumah

    A poignant masterpiece. Effective and judicious in his diction, Amadi paints a vivid depiction of life in this bygone era, rich and replete with customs, folklore, and perspectives that reflect a slowly fading reality. His storytelling draws and locks you into the personal struggles of characters, as they navigate love, fate, and notions of self in a universe ruled by seemingly apathetic, unseen forces. As someone who is familiar with this culture, I especially enjoyed Amadi's use of proverbs, c A poignant masterpiece. Effective and judicious in his diction, Amadi paints a vivid depiction of life in this bygone era, rich and replete with customs, folklore, and perspectives that reflect a slowly fading reality. His storytelling draws and locks you into the personal struggles of characters, as they navigate love, fate, and notions of self in a universe ruled by seemingly apathetic, unseen forces. As someone who is familiar with this culture, I especially enjoyed Amadi's use of proverbs, colloquialisms, and idioms to masterfully capture the essence of the Ikwere language. Characters refer to next-tomorrow as "the brother of tomorrow"; use shadows to measure the passage of time; and exchange "have you survived the night?" as a morning greeting. Amadi does not choose sides, but instead revolves the narration around major characters, allowing for insights into their lives and experiences and room for empathy. Though I found the shock of the ending difficult to digest, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Goddard

    This is a beautifully written and engaging story with interesting characters. The action takes place in a pre-colonial West African village. A popular young man, Emenike, is wounded in a fight with another wrestler, Madume, leaving his young beautiful wife Ihuoma alone with their three children. Another young man, Ekwueme, gradually falls in love with Ihuoma, but he is already betrothed to another girl from childhood. Ekwueme's passion for Ihuoma, and the conflict between their love and the tradit This is a beautifully written and engaging story with interesting characters. The action takes place in a pre-colonial West African village. A popular young man, Emenike, is wounded in a fight with another wrestler, Madume, leaving his young beautiful wife Ihuoma alone with their three children. Another young man, Ekwueme, gradually falls in love with Ihuoma, but he is already betrothed to another girl from childhood. Ekwueme's passion for Ihuoma, and the conflict between their love and the traditions and conventions of the society they inhabit, creates much of the tension in the novel. With interventions from love rivals, parents, medicine men and the spirit world, the reader is kept guessing right until the last page as to whether Amadi's characters can ultimately find their happy ever after.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Shuvro Das

    This is a scintillating tale of love and yearning for love and getting heartbroken, not once but many times. Ihuouma is ill fated and loses her husband prematurely. Mother of three, she is known for her beauty, character and resilience throughout her whole community. Everyone seems to find her praiseworthy due to all these traits, but little is known to them about the loneliness she has to fight constanly, each and every moment. After the hardships of her widowhood, she finds her true love in ,E This is a scintillating tale of love and yearning for love and getting heartbroken, not once but many times. Ihuouma is ill fated and loses her husband prematurely. Mother of three, she is known for her beauty, character and resilience throughout her whole community. Everyone seems to find her praiseworthy due to all these traits, but little is known to them about the loneliness she has to fight constanly, each and every moment. After the hardships of her widowhood, she finds her true love in ,Ekwueme the village hero. But as per the rules, she keeps quiet about this and drives him away for him, through reluctantly. Once again, fate draws these two nearer and they seem to be dreaming about the fulfillment of their unrequited love and henceforth, being together forever. The dream shatters in a moment when Ekwueme is killed and Ihuouma remains as lonely as ever.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Betty-Ann

    A most interesting book indeed! It bears a similarity in its style of writing to Chinua Achebe's Things fall apart. In that, the writer in telling the story of the protagonist describes the culture and customs of the people. Every aspect of the customs surrounding marriage ceremonies, funeral rites, naming ceremonies and even communal entertainment is described in the most entertaining way in this book. I couldn't put it down till I was done! It is a captivating story about an exemplary woman in A most interesting book indeed! It bears a similarity in its style of writing to Chinua Achebe's Things fall apart. In that, the writer in telling the story of the protagonist describes the culture and customs of the people. Every aspect of the customs surrounding marriage ceremonies, funeral rites, naming ceremonies and even communal entertainment is described in the most entertaining way in this book. I couldn't put it down till I was done! It is a captivating story about an exemplary woman in the village of Omokachie who is bereft with one misfortune after another in terms of marriage and suitors. The solution to her misfortunes is an irony. She cannot marry without the man losing his life in the process so she is forever fated to be a married man's concubine.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Naa Takia Nunoo

    Ihuoma is a young woman whose beauty, intelligence, and upright character earned her the respect and admiration of both young and old. Ihuoma loses her husband Emenike to a supposed “lock chest”. But even after his death, she continues her devotion to Emenike by staying in her late husband’s compound taking care of their three children. Ekwueme, a young trapper in the village takes a liking to her. But what is to become of him, as she is later to be discovered as the wife of a terribly jealous sea Ihuoma is a young woman whose beauty, intelligence, and upright character earned her the respect and admiration of both young and old. Ihuoma loses her husband Emenike to a supposed “lock chest”. But even after his death, she continues her devotion to Emenike by staying in her late husband’s compound taking care of their three children. Ekwueme, a young trapper in the village takes a liking to her. But what is to become of him, as she is later to be discovered as the wife of a terribly jealous sea king who would destroy any man that makes love to her? The Concubine is one captivating book that is sure to grip you from the start to the finish and even leave you wondering what next. It’s a tragedy beautifully woven, and a must read!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Churchill Osimbo

    After finishing this book, there was a lot for me to be bitter about. I was under the impression that it would be a semi-raunchy novel given its name — little did I know that you only hear about actual concubine talk in the final chapter — but I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. It's bleak yet bright at the same time. An afro western civilization portrayed in all its purity but never ignorant to the dangers of that very same world. You have to remember, this is a time before vaccinations After finishing this book, there was a lot for me to be bitter about. I was under the impression that it would be a semi-raunchy novel given its name — little did I know that you only hear about actual concubine talk in the final chapter — but I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. It's bleak yet bright at the same time. An afro western civilization portrayed in all its purity but never ignorant to the dangers of that very same world. You have to remember, this is a time before vaccinations and modern medicine made waking up the next morning an entitlement. The manner in which the horrors and beauty in this world are balanced is impressive. The writing is almost anti lyrical. Something even a toddler could read with immense ease.

  21. 5 out of 5

    N. Jr.

    This by far my favorite book by an African writer, and though I have read nearly 100 African novels, this is the only one that I have reread - 3 times! Elechi Amadi has written many good books but this one is his masterpiece. It is lyrical, written with a profound sense of understatement that reflects the simple life of pre-colonial Africa. The simplicity of the narrative makes it all the more powerful, and a sense of tragedy grows as the reader draws inexorably closer to the end. A haunting tale This by far my favorite book by an African writer, and though I have read nearly 100 African novels, this is the only one that I have reread - 3 times! Elechi Amadi has written many good books but this one is his masterpiece. It is lyrical, written with a profound sense of understatement that reflects the simple life of pre-colonial Africa. The simplicity of the narrative makes it all the more powerful, and a sense of tragedy grows as the reader draws inexorably closer to the end. A haunting tale.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ifeoma

    An Amazing African literature set in the eastern part of Nigeria before the colonial era. It shows the unity in the igbo people and how highly they revered their gods. I love the fluidity of the story, i couldn't drop the book when i started. No european values to disturb the age old Eastern Nigerian ways. Originality.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

    One of the best African books you will read.....

  24. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    excellent book ... can't get enough off it !!!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Curry

    Awesome book!! I was locked in from the beginning until the end.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Simon Gisore

    What happened to the African spirit?

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lunga

    One of the most amazing books I have read in a while. It ended too soon.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sheena

    It's a beautifully told story.. Tells the going-ons of a Nigerian village well (at least I Can relate to the some of the African traditions they practice)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bajen

    This was weird in the end. I hate the ending. Great writing though. The end though determined rating I gave it . Urgh

  30. 4 out of 5

    OGHENEKOME OGOWEWO

    Wow! It’s a great read indeed. I could not keep this book down, I only did when sleep overpowered me. Even though it ended tragically, I did not regret reading it as I had a lot to learn. I thank the ancients and the God of our ancestors.

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