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Comment: Shared Knowledge is a not for profit public charity! Check us out on facebook. We provide funding for educational programs in Richmond, Virginia. PLEASE READ FULL DESCRIPTION -USED GOOD- This book has been read and may show wear to the cover and or pages. There may be some dog-eared pages. In some cases the internal pages may contain highlighting/margin notes/underlining or any combination of these markings. The binding will be secure in all cases. This is a good reading and studying copy and has been verified that all pages are legible and intact. If the book contained a CD it is not guaranteed to still be included. Your purchase directly supports our scholarship program as well as our partner charities. All items are packed and shipped from the Amazon warehouse. Thanks so much for your purchase!
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The Wedding Gift Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged

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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio; Unabridged edition (September 24, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1427232970
  • ISBN-13: 978-1427232977
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 5.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (391 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,701,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this stunning debut, Marlen Suyapa Bodden effortlessly transports the reader to 1852 Alabama, where slavery and racism may rule the day, but everything isn't as black and white as it may seem. Sixteen-year-old Sarah Campbell is a housemaid to her half-sister Clarissa. Both daughters of plantation owner Mr. Allen, they secretly reject the roles they are expected to play. Sarah yearns for the day when she can escape slavery, while Clarissa is disinterested in her father's wishes for her to marry young and become mistress of her own plantation. But then Clarissa unexpectedly becomes pregnant before she's wed-changing the trajectory of both girls' lives. Bodden weaves a page-turning tangled web of misogyny, greed, scandal and violence in this powerful story about races colliding against the backdrop of America's darkest era. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

In her first novel, lawyer Bodden draws on an immense amount of historical knowledge to present a tale about life in pre–Civil War Alabama that is as educational as it is compelling. Clarissa is the legitimate daughter of Cornelius Allen, a wealthy plantation owner. Sarah is also Allen’s daughter, the product of his long-standing extramarital affair with Emmeline, his beautiful house slave. Sarah narrates the novel in turns with Theodora, Allen’s wife, who is frustrated by her own lack of agency. Theodora secretly teaches Sarah to read and write, sharpening Sarah’s hunger for liberty. When flippant Clarissa gets married, Sarah is given to her as a gift, sparking events that upend life at the Allen plantation. Bodden writes with delicacy, allowing layers of meaning to unfold slowly, and her portrayal of the horrors of slave life is both unflinching and purposeful. The connections developed between Clarissa and Sarah illustrate the complex sorrows of tyranny, and the ecstasy of triumphing over oppression. An inspiring read for historical-fiction fans, especially those who like strong female narrators. --Amber Peckham --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Dr. Marlen Suyapa Bodden is a lawyer at The Legal Aid Society in New York City, the nation's oldest and largest law firm for the poor. She has more than two decades' experience representing poor people and low-wage and immigrant workers, many of whom are severely underpaid, if paid at all. She drew on her knowledge of modern and historical slavery, human trafficking, and human rights abuses to write THE WEDDING GIFT, her first novel.

The University of Rhode Island awarded Marlen an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in May 2012, when she delivered the commencement speech. Marlen is a graduate of New York University School of Law and Tufts University.

The reader may visit Marlen's website at: for the history behind THE WEDDING GIFT in photographs, illustrations, maps, and a bibliography!

Customer Reviews

The characters were well developed and the story line felt very real.
Kindle Customer
This is an amazing story of Sarah, her family, and the plantation owners.
I found this book to be an good read, and kept my attention to the end.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

187 of 202 people found the following review helpful By Rochelle on June 27, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Last summer I met the author, Mrs. Bodden and her husband at the 2010 Harlem Book Festival. I made a promise to myself that I would purchase the book and read it. A year later I ordered the book as I had the postcard on my refrigerator as a reminder to purchase a copy.

My normal summer read is a Benilde Little book, which I am awaiting a new one.
And a friend had just given me Raising Ce Ce Honeycott, which I simply devoured.

So it was time for me to keep that promise to myself and purchase "The Wedding Gift" for this summer.

When I first began reading it I was surprised that it was about slavery, I was expecting something like "Jumping the Broom," or some modern day marriage twist like the "Wedding," by Dorothy West.

As I relinquished my expectations I became enveloped in the storyline and couldn't put it down. As I began reading Theodora's accounts of being the Mistress of a Plantation, her accounts answered so many questions I had about what women thought of their husbands, slavery, and mulatto children born to them.

Like many others, I was thrilled at the surprised ending - and to tell you the truth, I am now wanting a sequel to what happens next?

I am so grateful to have been given this insight into the lives of slaves and of the women of that period. This book was indeed a gift to the reader.

If you haven't gotten a copy - it will be worth it! Even if you've been putting it off -

The main character you will just love to hate her and then love Sarah Campbell - she is spoiled, naive at first, and then brave and eventually your heroine.

Though many slave stories have been told, this is still a one-of-a-kind tale, you will not want to miss.
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66 of 71 people found the following review helpful By James D. Miller on April 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
"The Wedding Gift" is the debut novel of New York lawyer, turned novelist, Marlen Suyapa Bodden. Set in antebellum Alabama, the focus of Ms. Bodden's novel is the complex relationship between slaves and their owners.

Sarah Campbell, Ms. Bodden's protagonist, is a light skinned slave who has dreamed of freedom her entire life. She is the product of a long term sexual relationship between her mother, Emmeline, a slave, and her owner, Cornelius Allen.

Cornelius, The Allen family patriarch, serves Ms. Bodden's plot well as the antagonist of the story, he is manipulative, vindictive and at times physically violent. Interestingly enough, his manipulative machinations, vindictiveness and physical violence are usually focused on the females of Ms. Bodden's novel, be they either black or white. When Emmeline stops going to him at night, Mr. Allen retaliates by selling Sarah's sister Belle.

The Allen's daughter, Clarissa is the engine that drives Ms. Bodden's story forward. Sarah and Clarissa are both roughly the same age, and from childhood Sarah has been groomed to be Clarissa's servant. As girls Sarah and Clarissa were playmates. Clarissa asked that Sarah be allowed to sit with her during lessons with her mother. Consequently Sarah learned to both read and write, at the time a crime for both the slave and the teacher. When Clarissa marries, Sarah is to go with her and act as her personal servant.

When Clarissa comes of age she is actively courted by two suitors; her unexpected pregnancy sets in motion a series of events which ultimately leads to Sarah's freedom and the Allen family's ultimate destruction.

A parallel theme in the novel is the subjugation of women in the American south.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Langdon on January 13, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fantastic book. I couldn't put it down. Great surprise ending--I never saw it coming. If you like historical fiction, this book is a vivid, and sometimes heartbreaking, portrayal of early American slavery and the oppression of women. You can tell this book is well researched, but the impressive part is how seamlessly it is woven into the story. I can't wait to tell my friends about this book.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 2, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Wedding Gift has a profoundly interesting story, and it was clearly a labor of love.

Unfortunately, it's so stiffly written, with such bizarre, stilted dialogue, that it's difficult to appreciate the good points of the novel. Few of the characters are fleshed out to the point where they are distinguishable from one another, which is irritating and occasionally confusing.

The "surprise" ending is definitely shocking, but the reader is left agog as the main character confesses to some rather strong crimes and then gives thanks to a higher power in the last two pages.

All in all, it was interesting read, but I wish I'd used my Prime membership to borrow it instead of paying 99 cents.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By WisReader on January 8, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The material in the story was interesting, however, from the beginning the writing struck me as being that of an inexperienced author.

The author "tells," but doesn't "show." Description of setting is minimal at best. Character development is so lacking that the reader does not get to understand who the characters are as people and what leads them to make decisions. This makes it difficult to be able to sympathize with any of the characters, and I finished the novel feeling like all of the characters were still strangers to me.

Sentences are choppy and short, and the dialogue sounds the same regardless of who is speaking and their education level, gender, or background.

In addition, the plot twists at the end seemed to come out of left field with no foreshadowing and no insight into the character's thought processes as she made those decisions. It felt like the last two pages were an afterthought tacked on to the rest of the story with the main character saying, "Oh, by the way, I did this. Hope I am forgiven." In this section, the protagonist also spoke directly to the reader for the first time in the entire story ("Reader, I ask that you do not judge me harshly...") This direct addressing of the reader also felt unnatural.

Overall, the story itself has the components of what could be an engrossing novel if only with better writing and editing. The poor writing got increasingly annoying as I held on to finish the novel.

This is the first 99-cent novel I have read on my Kindle, and I really hope the other 99-cent books I have purchased are of better quality. Given the number of 5- and 4-star ratings this book received, I expected it to be much better. Perhaps my expectations were too high for a 99-cent book.
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