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Changes by Ama Ata Aidoo

Changes: A Love Story - Tuzyaline Jita Allan, Tuzyline Allan, Ama Ata Aidoo

This is an interesting novella from a Ghanaian feminist author. I made the mistake of taking the subtitle (“A Love Story”) seriously, and so wasn’t prepared for the heavy material it actually contains – professional women struggling to find contentment in a society that retains traditional, conservative expectations about women’s roles. To the point that, within the first 15 pages, the protagonist is raped by her husband, then reflects that the concept of marital rape doesn’t exist in her society, and in fact other women would be jealous of her for exciting such passion.

I don’t mean to suggest by my rating that this is a bad book; the author does a good job of conveying the characters’ personalities and the societal pressures upon them. At 166 pages (it tops 200 only with the addition of a critical essay, which does provide some helpful context, as well as a glossary), it proved too short for me to get to know the characters or become accustomed to Aidoo’s writing style. She has some stylistic quirks, such as the scattered commentary set off in block quotes. It felt underdeveloped to me, though it appears that for other readers the book achieves exactly what the author intended.

As far as African feminist works go, I liked this slightly better than So Long a Letter, but not so well as Nervous ConditionsHappiness, Like Water or Zenzele.