The true story of one indomitable woman caught in the tumult of an extraordinary century in Ethiopia, The Wife’s Tale has the sweep and lyrical power that captivated readers of Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone.
A hundred years ago, a girl was born in the northern Ethiopian city of Gondar. Before she was ten years old, Yetemegnu was married to a man two decades her senior, an ambitious poet-priest. Over her lifetime her world changed beyond recognition. She witnessed Fascist invasion and occupation, Allied bombardment and exile from her city, the ascent and fall of Emperor Haile Selassie, revolution and civil war. She endured all these things alongside parenthood, widowhood and the death of children.
The Wife’s Tale is an intimate memoir, of both a life and a country. In prose steeped in Yetemegnu’s distinctive voice and point of view, Aida Edemariam retells her grandmother’s stories of a childhood surrounded by proud priests and soldiers, of her husband’s imprisonment, of her fight for justice–all of it played out against the rhythms of the natural world and an ancient cycle of religious festivals. She introduces us to a rich cast of characters–emperors and empresses, scholars and nuns, Marxist revolutionaries and wartime double agents–and through these encounters takes us deep into the landscape and culture of this many-layered, often mischaracterized country.