01 March 2010

Wench; Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Wench: A Novel Wench: A Novel by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After I reviewed The Help I was asked by someone at HarperCollins if I'd like to read/review Wench; I'd already gotten a copy of the book at ALA Midwinter, so I declined. The ties between the two books are relatively loose: the former takes place 100 (or so) years after the latter.

Wench is told through Lizzie's eyes, jumping around a little in time. Lizzie is a slave, brought by her master to a resort in Ohio (then a free state); there are three other slave women there, also with their masters. The wives are back home. There are a few scenes where the horror of slavery is emphasized (Mawu's beating, for example) but the true horror was in the everyday things - the rape/sex, the chains, the language. That casualness highlighted the "peculiarity" of that institution in ways that more graphic descriptions could not.

My biggest problem was that the characters never fully came to life for me, there was always something just a little cold, a little sterile about them.

Copy provided by publisher.

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