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Wench: A Novel

A book by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

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Moving look at the dehumanizing reality of slavery

  • May 25, 2010
This well-written historical novel looks at the lives of four slave women accompanying their masters on a summer holiday to free Ohio. The novel focuses on the women, the relationships they form, and the way they deal with the possibility of escaping to freedom. I was drawn into the stories of the women, though would have liked more attention paid to the backstories of characters other than Lizzie. I do believe the author did an excellent job getting into the mindset of these characters, trying to show the conflicts between love, loyalty, and true freedom.

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September 27, 2010
Great comments
October 11, 2010
thanks! I saw the author speak about the book in DC which was an interesting experience. reading the book made me think about modern day sex slavery and what that oppression does to warp the minds of those involved.
More Wench: A Novel reviews
review by . February 21, 2010
Dolen Perkins-Valdez makes a formidable debut in the tale of four women poised on the edge of slavery and freedom in Wench. Based on meticulous research, the author presents Tawawa House, which has oral history as a resort where southern slave owners brought their families during the summer months to Ohio. Using artistic license, Perkins-Valdez imagines the slave masters bringing their slave mistresses where they could openly be with them.     Lizzie believes what she and Drayle, …
review by . February 04, 2010
When I first started WENCH, it was like trying to read a book in a foreign language.     Yes, there was slave dialect used, but that isn't what I'm talking about (the dialect did not make it difficult to read as some books set in that era do).     What I mean is that while I read each scene I had to work to actively process what I was reading -- to frame it so that I could understand it.    WENCH is artfully told, beginning in the summer …
review by . February 12, 2010
For several years now Lizzie has visited Tawawa House with Drayle in the summer. Tawawa House is like most resorts with its idyllic setting and Southern hospitality. But what is especially ideal at Tawawa are its quaint cabins that surround the property providing the isolation and privacy needed for the Southern gentlemen who vacation with their black enslaved mistresses.    Lizzie, Reenie and Sweet know that as long as they are their masters favorite, they will meet up in the …
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C Quinn ()
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I love books and review for pleasure, and I love to browse reviews online looking for more books to add to my TBR list.
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About this book


In her debut, Perkins-Valdez eloquently plunges into a dark period of American history, chronicling the lives of four slave women—Lizzie, Reenie, Sweet and Mawu—who are their masters' mistresses. The women meet when their owners vacation at the same summer resort in Ohio. There, they see free blacks for the first time and hear rumors of abolition, sparking their own desires to be free. For everyone but Lizzie, that is, who believes she is really in love with her master, and he with her. An extended flashback in the middle of the novel delves into Lizzie's life and vividly explores the complicated psychological dynamic between master and slave. Jumping back to the final summer in Ohio, the women all have a decision to make—will they run? Heart-wrenching, intriguing, original and suspenseful, this novel showcases Perkins-Valdez's ability to bring the unfortunate past to life.(Jan.)
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ISBN-10: 006170654X
ISBN-13: 978-0061706547
Author: Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Amistad
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