March 2024: The Lagos Wife by Vanessa Walter – LAGOS

13th March 2024

The Lagos Wife by Vanessa Walters, novel set in LAGOS (Glamour, intrigue and mystery).

Novel set in LAGOS (Glamour, intrigue and mystery)

Young and beautiful Nicole Oruware is The Lagos Wife. She lives a privileged life with her handsome husband, her sons and in-laws in the city that some called ‘the Dubai of Africa’. Money is no object for her and her friends. Her magnificent home, overlooking Lagos lagoon, is the envy of many in her social circle. She spends her time socialising; her troubled childhood has been left behind and she has everything she needs. And yet…

When Nicole goes missing after a boat trip, her aunt Claudine flies to Nigeria from the UK to try to track her down. Nicole was brought up by her aunt but they have been out of contact for some time. When Claudine arrives, she has an uncomfortable feeling that all is not as it seems. The Oruware family are charming but they make light of the situation and nobody is actively searching for her niece. They have not even notified the police. They even admit that they are saving face, and that the community will shun them if they admit that Nicole is missing. The more Claudine investigates, the more likely it seems that cracks had begun to appear in Nicole’s perfect existence. Claudine is desperate to know what happened to her – whether she is dead or alive – but no-one is prepared to help. Lagos is a place where everyone is hiding behind a façade and nothing is as it seems.

The book’s chapters alternate between two points of view: Nicole’s story –  “Before” – and Claudine’s investigation – “After”. (The terms relate to before and after Nicole’s disappearance.) The plot is very skilfully managed, keeping readers guessing about what happened right until the extremely clever twist at the end. We sense Claudine’s mood as she is frustrated at every turn. By gradually revealing Nicole’s experiences in parallel with Claudine’s, we learn more about their family background and the secrets they are keeping.



Nicole is a Nigerwife – an organisation for women of all nationalities and ethnicities who have married a rich Nigerian and moved to Lagos. The Nigerwives meet and support each other in a “sisters all” bond as they acclimatise to the artificial existence that they all lead. Nicole’s childhood was in stark contrast to her current lifestyle. She was brought up by Claudine as a second-generation Jamaican immigrant to the UK. When Claudine approaches the Nigerwives for help, once again everyone is superficially pleasant but she isn’t sure who she can trust. In digging into what happened to Nicole, she is reminded of uncomfortable truths about herself.

Vanessa Walters’ vivid descriptions transport us to Lagos, with its oppressive heat and dangerous flooding to its shiny – but unfinished – building projects. The author was a Nigerwife herself, and the first-hand knowledge that she has acquired is cleverly deployed to create a wonderful sense of place and of Lagos’s people in her novel. It is clear that, in Lagos, there is a sharp divide between those who belong to the best families and have benefited from the country’s wealth and those who exist only to serve others. Some lives are worth less than others and contradicting those who hold the power is a dangerous game. This is a fascinating insight into a community that few will have experienced. Yet there are many themes and situations that readers will recognise, and it is this that draws us in and keeps the pages turning right to the end. A very enjoyable read.

Sue for the TripFiction Team

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