Jennifer's Reviews > Wench

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
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's review
Mar 11, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: read-2012, bad-ass-bookclub
Recommended to Jennifer by: Bad Ass Bookclub
Recommended for: readers who are not uncomfortable with ambiguity
Read from February 28 to March 06, 2012

Though it took me a bit to warm up to this novel--set in the early 1850's, it eventually sucked me in. Tawana House is a hotel/resort in Ohio (a free state) where a number of southern slave owners bring their black "mistresses" every summer. When Lizzie first starts coming up to Ohio with her master, Drayle, she does not feel tempted by the freedom around her. She has two children (by Drayle) back in Tennessee and he treats her far better than do the masters of her friends, Sweet and Reenie. However, the arrival of a new "wench," Mawu, along with her brutal owner from Louisianna, causes the delicate balance to shift and over time, Lizzie begins to question the way things are and wonder about how they might be. There is a lot of brutality in this novel but also a slim sort of hope and a fairly nuanced portrayal of the complex relationship between one slave woman and the father of her children. According to the afterward, Tawana House is a real place and it's clear that Dolen Perkins-Valdez did a lot of research to recreate this time and place. I'll be curious to hear how the other members of my book club responded to it.

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