So Long A Letter is a series of short letters written by Ramatoulaye, a woman in West Africa, to a childhood friend. The letters are a series of memories and reminiscences that cover the choices the two women made in their lives and details the disapointments they faced socially.
Ramatoulaye begins the letters after the death of a husband she remained married to even though he abandoned her and her children and took on another wife. She looks back on the happy times she and her friend had in their married lives and then tells her all about her struggles for survival all while being ignored by her husband and her co-wife. Similarly, her friend Aissatou also was faced with her husband taking another wife and Ramatoulaye describes her friend's decision in not staying with her husband while applauding her for her choices and success. I liked the way the friend's failed marriage was used to help the narrator get through her own trials.
The book is full of subtle advice for women, families and people in general. But it is given through example and reflection rather than through admonition. The way So Long A Letter goes about presenting the condition of women in restricting social circumstances to the reader is distinctively different than the way I have seen it done in other novels. It is a true testimony to the women it represents and their never failing struggle to survive for themselves and their family.
This book is an especially easy read being only 90 pages long and divided frequently into short memories.