- Series: P.S.
- Paperback: 293 pages
- Publisher: Amistad; Reprint edition (January 25, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0061706566
- ISBN-13: 978-0061706561
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 447 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Wench: A Novel (P.S.) Paperback – January 25, 2011
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“[E]lectrifying. . . . [T]his remarkable novel skillfully dramatizes a dark chapter in American history. Writing with lyrical grace and a gift for plot development, Perkins-Valdez has produced an inspiring portrait of four brave women and the risks they take to change their lives.” (BookPage)
“[A] fascinating and tragic story. . . . [A] compulsive read.” (NPR.org, Book Club Pick)
“[A] memorable and engaging debut.” (Library Journal, Best Books of 2010)
“A heartbreaker, full of understated tragedy and lyrical prose. . . . Perkins-Valdez has woven a devastatingly beautiful account of a cruel past.” (People)
“Perkins-Valdez manages to shed a poetic light on one of the ugliest chapters in American history.” (Essence)
“Readers entranced by The Help will be equally riveted by Wench. A deeply moving, beautifully written novel told from the heart.” (USA Today)
“A fabulously creative and daring historical novel .” (Dawn Turner Trice, Chicago Tribune)
“Perkins-Valdez memorably portrays how the entwined destinies of chattel and master, increasingly related by blood, passion and hatred, prefigure the looming national conflict. This is an almost forgotten, but important, chapter in American history--recorded as fiction but nonetheless full of hard facts.” (Town & Country)
“A mesmerizing read.” (Seattle Times)
“Absolutely phenomenal. . . . Wench is an excellent novel that will appeal to many readers. Debut author Dolen Perkins-Valdez has crafted a historical narrative that shouldn’t be missed.” (Sacramento Book Review)
From the Back Cover
wench \'wench\ n. from Middle English “wenchel,”1 a: a girl, maid, young woman; a female child.
Situated in Ohio, a free territory before the Civil War, Tawawa House isan idyllic retreat for Southern white men who vacation there every summerwith their enslaved black mistresses. It’s their open secret. Lizzie,Reenie, and Sweet are regulars at the resort, building strong friendships over theyears. But when Mawu, as fearless as she is assured, comes along and starts talkingof running away, things change. To run is to leave everything behind, and forsome it also means escaping from the emotional and psychological bonds thatbind them to their masters. When a fire on the resort sets off a string of tragedies,the women of Tawawa House soon learn that triumph and dehumanization areinseparable and that love exists even in the most inhuman, brutal of circumstances—all while they bear witness to the end of an era.
An engaging, page-turning, and wholly original novel, Wench explores, withan unflinching eye, the moral complexities of slavery.
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In the state of Ohio, masters bing their black slave mistresses for a vacation. This is a well known fact among both owners and the owned. For some it is a wonderful time, for others it is miserable experience to always be at their masters beck and call.
One summer, four black slave women who are at this resort meet and form a friendship which will stand the test of time and events. Three of the four are fully aware that they are only of use to their masters as long as they are interested in these slave women. The fourth, Liz, truly loves her master and hopes that one day he will give her and their children their freedom.
Then one day while walking they meet a white woman who is very interested in them and even shows them a resort where free black men and women can vacation. Eventually, this woman talks to them about abolition and encourages them to run away from their masters and make their way North. Three of the four are scared to do this since if they are found they could either be subjected to a severe whipping or even death. As one of them tried to escape, it becomes clear to Liz that her master will never give her or their children their freedom and Liz is left to wonder what path to take.
I liked this book but didn't love it the way I have loved other books with a similar theme. I'm not sure why although I didn't find the women seperately that interesting. One part of the book is solely devoted to the begonning relationship between Liz and her master which does allow one to understand a slaves emotions better. The book also gives the reader an opportunity to learn about a seldom known time and place. In the end the women formed wonderful friendships and persevered though all of their tribulations, sometimes because of their camaraderie.(less)
The story involves a group of four female friends, who are slaves, and their vacations to the "free country" up North. All of the women are involved sexually with their Masters, and the protagonist, Lizzie, is in love with her Master, Drayle. The women are constantly tempted to run for freedom, especially when they discover free blacks in Dayton, and are befriended by a white Quaker woman. They experience an extreme of unpleasant situations and adversity; I began to really ache for their heartaches, but the characters seemed to accept most of the situations as normal--which in itself is heartbreaking.
The only thing that I did not understand was the love Lizzie had for Drayle--I really didn't see a love story there, and I assume I am not supposed to. However, Lizzie seemed more intent on manipulating Drayle for special favors than being in love with him.
Perkins-Valdez uses realistic dialogue and smooth, cadenced narration to create an unforgettable historical fiction novel.