Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s enchanting and unforgettable novel, based on little-known fact, combines the narrative allure of Cane River by Lalita Tademy and the moral complexities of Edward P. Jones’s The Known World as it tells the story of four black enslaved women in the years preceding the Civil War.
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 is an idyllic retreat for Southern white men who vacation there every summer with their enslaved black mistresses. It’s their open secret. Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet are regulars at the resort, building strong friendships over the years. But when Mawu, as fearless as she is assured, comes along and starts talking of running away, things change. To run is to leave everything behind, and for some it also means escaping from the emotional and psychological bonds that bind 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 are inseparable 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, with an unflinching eye, the moral complexities of slavery.
“Readers entranced by The Help will be equally riveted by Wench. A deeply moving, beautifully written novel told from the heart.”—USA Today
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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Great read for those wishing to delve....
Into depths of the relationships, both negative and positive, of slaves and owners. While fiction, it is a brilliant work: a heartwarming story of self discovery.
The story was so real to me. The characters were so very real, I was taken there, did not want to put the book down. Excellent writer.
Good story, bad editing
This book tells a good story but is in serious need of a copyeditor. Sloppy and careless production makes it a distracting read. From the outset, the glaring errors in capitalization disrupt the smoothness of the story.
In the first pages, stating that Tawawa was "west of Dayton and east of Columbus", a geographical and physical impossibility, just cheapens the story.
Let a competent copyeditor at it and repost and you'll have a good book.