Changes: A Love Story was published in 1991, and is a novel written by Alma Ata Aidoo. It tells of a certain time in the life of a career woman in Accra, the capital city of Ghana. Esi is a very modern African woman who works for the government, in the Department of Urban Statistics, but whilst she always excelled at academics she was a late bloomer on the romantic front and married her husband Oko out of a sense of relief and gratitude rather than out of a sense of love. Once married, Esi remains the same modern career woman she was when she was single, and prioritizes her career over both her marriage and over the couple's child, Ogyaanowa. Oko reacts badly to what he sees as his emasculation and the refusal of his wife to conform to the stereotypical mid-twentieth century image of what a wife should be, think and do. He rapes her and she divorces him, but then enters into a polygamous marriage, which would seem paradoxical given her fierce feminist ideals and outlook on life. This union seems far more liberating to Esi than her union with Oki.
The title of the book reflects the woman that Esi is - and the woman the author believes all women to be. "Changes" references the way in which a woman's feelings and emotions evolve in the same way that her life does; love is very different for the same woman at the different ages and stages that she experiences.
The book was largely well received when it was published by a Feminist press publishing house. It's style of prose is typically African, written in the third person and taking a traditionally oral form of storytelling and committing it to the page. The author intended to create a series of vignettes of varying length that would make the reader ponder the subject matter and the nature of what love means to a woman. Critics also praised the author for presenting the two different feminine cultures of Africa and the west and contrasting them. Chiefly, she questions what it means to be a Westernized woman in modern-day Africa, where the men are quite determined to keep women in the same roles that they have had for centuries.
Ama Ata Aidoo was born in Ghana and has experienced first-hand the tug of war between the social pressure to remain traditional and the personal desire to be something more. She is an author, a poet and a playwright and brings all of these different styles and genres into this one novel. Like her protagonist Esi, Aidoo also worked for the government in Ghana, although in a different department from her fictional counterpart. Aidoo was Minister of Education and even after leaving office remained passionate about the promotion of education to women as the key to a more independent future. In 2000 she founded the Mbaasem Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to the support and promotion of African female writers..
In 1992 Aidoo received the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book for this novel, one of the last authors to do so before the reorganization of the prize and its categories a few years later.