The Spider’s Web follows the lives of a handful of Nigerian women, focusing in particular on Nnenna Nwakuche, and Ejiro. They are the two main recipients of the violence in the novel.
Nnenna is, in the beginning, portrayed as weak and submissive. She endures abuse inflicted on her by her husband, a clergy man, in order to provide for her parents and to protect her children from his cruelty. Emeka, her husband, values Nnenna only as a sexual object and a caretaker for his home. To her friends, Nnenna is the perfect woman. She is kind, considerate, and is able to balance her life with her role as the loving wife of a clergy man. But slowly, the problems in Nnenna’s life start to show themselves. Tension creeps in, and it becomes clear that Nnenna is stuck with a loveless pastor against her better judgment. Her devotion and love for her family cause her to stay in one place a little too long – a mistake which may well prove fatal.
There’s Ejiro. In the 1980’s, skinny, ugly, dirt-poor Ejiro, 14, runs away from her family’s apartment to escape her lecherous father’s drunken advances. Down and out, she hooks up and falls in love with Jayjay, a cute boy who’s a few years older–and who turns out to be a monster: a pimp who forces her into a whorehouse, and then takes her for a disastrous abortion (she nearly dies and is forever sterile) after she becomes pregnant with his child in a pitiful attempt to force him to marry her. Naturally, all Ejiro can think of is revenge.
Nnenna and Ejiro, form a deep bond; their suffering brings them together in a strong solidarity. Through fate, they become fast friends, quilting together, offering advice to each other, and offering mutual aid over the years. When Nnenna mourns her child and her husband’s betrayal, her friend nurses her wounds and gives her comfort.
Nnenna works her way through this rough patch with the support of her friends and family by finding out what she really wants out of life, instead of just living out the life she feels was assigned to her. She wrestles with the decision to leave her cheating husband, as she and her friends discover that women really can have it all. With increasing confidence, freedom, and hope — Nnenna unravels the complex threads of family, identity, and desire that shape a woman’s life, even as she begins to create a new one.
The Spider’s Web is a story about the real lives of men and women, the varieties of people and love, the bond between mother and child, the solace of family and friendship, the inexplicable feelings between people who are passionately connected in ways they don’t understand.
The book raises the possibility that marriage and victimhood are inseparable in Africa. In reality, this is a widespread suspicion, sometimes justified, sometimes not. People are more aware than ever of the prevalence of hidden domestic abuse and are fast becoming cognizant of the widespread unfairness of the economic arrangements between men and women. Marriages that look respectable can also hide a lot. The characters in Spider’s Web portray all these. It is a story about life –past regrets, lost love, hardships, success and revenge. It is a story about Nnenna and Ejiro and a few other women, all from different walks of life, but each have something missing in their personal lives.
About the Author
Ezar lives in Ibadan, works as a teacher at The Vale College and is pursuing a doctorate degree at the Centre for Educational Media Resource Studies (University of Ibadan).
She is a member of Zonta International, a leading global organization of professionals empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy.
She blogs on www.dumebie.com.