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Summary

Longlisted for the 2018 Dylan Thomas Prize
Longlisted for the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize

There are things even love can't do....

If the burden is too much and stays too long, even love bends, cracks, comes close to breaking and sometimes does break. But even when it's in thousands of pieces around your feet, that doesn't mean it's no longer love....

Yejide is hoping for a miracle, for a child. It is all her husband wants, all her mother-in-law wants, and she has tried everything - arduous pilgrimages, medical consultations, dances with prophets, appeals to God. But when her in-laws insist upon a new wife, it is too much for Yejide to bear. It will lead to jealousy, betrayal and despair.

Unravelling against the social and political turbulence of '80s Nigeria, Stay with Me sings with the voices, colours, joys and fears of its surroundings. Ayobami Adebayo weaves a devastating story of the fragility of married love, the undoing of family, the wretchedness of grief and the all-consuming bonds of motherhood. It is a tale about our desperate attempts to save ourselves and those we love from heartbreak.

©2017 Ayobami Adebayo (P)2017 Canongate Books

Critic reviews

"Scorching, gripping, ultimately lovely." (Margaret Atwood)
"This terrific first novel (shortlisted for the Baileys women's prize for fiction) deals with the daily stresses of living with the political upheavals of the time but the real drama is happening in Yejide's womb. Adebayo unfolds the many layers of truth with insight and skill." (The Times)
"A thoroughly contemporary style that is all her own...clever and funny...despite the intense sadness of her subject matter, she has produced a bright, big-hearted demonstration of female spirit, as well as the damage done by the boundlessness of male pride." (Guardian)

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Linn
  • London, London, United Kingdom
  • 13-03-17

Beautiful realism

This is a very beautifully written story about an issue which is still very real and taboo in Nigeria, causing many women to suffer unnecessarily. I couldn't put the book down. Adjoa Andoh is one of my favourite narrators and she didn't disappoint. Good, but not perfect attempts at Yoruba, but she still made it sound like she knew it well. This book left tears in my eyes.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Beautiful story

I am so glad that I found this wonderful book. The story took me from a place where I was crying with laughter to being filled with sadness as each of the main characters' back stories were revealed. The structure and pacing were well suited to the story being shared. I look forward to reading more from this author.
Thank you Audible for producing this story the narrator really brought the characters to life and I will listen to more books narrated by her.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A moving portrait of motherhood & family life

Any additional comments?

This story, set in 1980s Nigeria, was a slow-burner for me. I nearly gave up on it in the first few chapters because it reminded me of other novels set in Nigeria. But I'm so glad I stuck with it because it blossomed into a powerful portrayal of the pressures women face from family, society, tradition and their own biological make-up, to have children. It also addresses the painful reality and grief surrounding infertility, impotence and the trauma of losing babies/young children to illness.

The plot was well conceived and executed, giving weight to both the mother and the father's side of the story. The bittersweet ending was very well planned and helped to turn a tragic tale into one of hope for the future. The characters were many and varied and the author managed to introduce some humour (as well as horror) into a story that left me feeling sad and thoughtful.

The narration was excellent, full of light and dark tones and beautiful expression.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good first novel!

Ms. Andoh is the best voice for the job. She's even gotten a lot better with her Nigerian pronunciations.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • T
  • 25-07-17

Stunning

I loved listening to this book. I particularly enjoyed the folktales/fairytales told throughout the story.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I really loved it.

A powerful narrative, with compelling revelations by lead characters. A superb debut presenting Nigeria sympathetically.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Ja
  • LEEDS, WEST YORKSHIRE, United Kingdom
  • 13-08-18

Fascinating Journeys

This book was captivating on so many levels:
- exceptional quality of the writing;
- the way in which the author got into the heads of her characters;
- the observation and vivid portrayal of Yoruba culture and mores.

This was one of few books I’ve listened to at every opportunity.

There are a few gripes though!

- I found the premise of the married couple’s inability to have children implausible. Yejide lived in a compound with (copulating) animals, had been to an all girls’ school, was at university etc., and would have known Akin’s ‘explanation’ was incredible, literally. Why did she go along with this for five years?

- There was no reflection that I picked up of how Akin reflected on/came to terms with Yejide’s ‘concealment’ of the new situation. Would such a calculating man be so cavalier, knowing his wife could hide something so fundamental? And lie to themselves about her pregnancies? Really?

- The reason for the fight between the brothers seemed hypocritical and Yejide’s silence at the time uncharacteristic.

- Sickle cell disease could be diagnosed at birth in Nigeria in the 1980s. She was exceptionally unlucky to have three SCD children, so would she really have done this to herself? Would Akin? What were Dotun’s reactions? Amniocentesis might have been available too, I’m unsure. But an educated couple like this would be unlikely to have taken three chances without medical intervention. I think there would have been some discussion between the three of them.

Plus, it would be unusual for the babies not to have shown some symptom of SCD when they were younger rather than when they first became ill in the book, particularly Sesan.

Nitpicking, I know, but for her next book perhaps Abayomi Adebayo could research any medical conditions a little more thoroughly, including treatment of Akin’s issue.

- Such a wealthy household would have servants, a nanny etc. Their observations and gossip might have added an extra layer.

- Adjoa Andoh’s narration was as ever first class, but (again) would have been better if she had had the right emphasis on the name Akin. Could she have a Yoruba elocutionist next time please?!

Despite these latter comments, Stay With Me was an enjoyable, well-crafted novel. An impressive debut and then some! I look forward to Abayomi Adebayo’s next book.



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

great story - terrible narration

story gave a different perspective on life. narrator - either use Nigerian accent or don't

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

The sadness is relentless

It's a gripping book and very well narrated, however, the sadness starts to weigh you down and the ending feels rushed and disappointingly not in line with how the main character has been developed so you are left with a really sucky feeling

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

And they all lived happy ever after.

Well now, what to say about this book. Story incredible and escellently read. Gramatically awful and the ending well, some might find it adorable, I found it trite and sentimental. I didn’t like the ending at all but the rest of the story apart from being hard to follow in some places was pretty good. The book contains elements of drama, tragedy and betrayal. There are f few unexpected twists throughout this literary tale and some parts which are predictable but since it’s a drama and not a mystery that’s forgivable under the circumstances. I think there are a lot of people that will like this book, even love it especially if you like romantic endings and there will be more than a few tears I think. Anyway give it a go. it’s not so bad really.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Brenda Siara
  • 20-07-17

Jaw dropper

Seemed like a Nollywood movie for a moment there. Dancing on a mountain with traditional priests until she believed she was pregnant! For 11 months her belly was distended!!!
But the twist that follows is a more interesting one. Performance is incredible! Adjoa Andoh has outdone herself in this book. I've listened to her perform Americanah which was average. In Ghana Must Go, she does a little better, but here, this is the best I've heard her yet.

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  • Afoma
  • 04-05-17

Strong debut!

This novel has been on my to-read list since it was released and I'm so glad to have been able to get an Audible experience. Ayobami