Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Wench: A Novel (P.S.)Are you still enjoying the last vestiges of winter? Or is it time for some of those summer reads yet?  A book that grabs you and won't let go?  Something that doesn't require huge concentration and does some of the work for you?  Wench, for me, felt like a summer read in that sense.

That is not to say that the subject matter is light and fluffy, for it is anything but.  In this book we peek into the lives of four slave women who are their masters' mistresses in the mid-1850s.  Their experiences--thoughts, feelings, hopes--are all vastly different from each other, but they are united by their shared sense of injustice and the complexity of their situations.

It wasn't so much that individual portions of the book were emotionally difficult to digest (although there were a couple of parts that were somewhat rough) but rather the fact that they kept happening and kept happening.  Which I suppose is one of the points the author was trying to make.  Some slave owners were kind, and some slaves really weren't mistreated horribly, but regardless of the degree of horror in circumstance, one of the really horrid things about slavery is that it is ongoing.  Forever.  With no real hope in sight.

Considering the heavy subject matter, Wench still managed to feel like a light read to me.  I was reading to find out what was going to happen, rather than to stop and ponder the situation...which is interesting because there were definitely enough things to stop and consider.  The story really seemed to flow until it ended quite abruptly, with the last couple of paragraphs becoming all poetic.  I don't think it was a book that absolutely hinged on the ending, though, so the last page was forgivable.  The fact that it was inspired by an actual resort made it all the more interesting.  While not necessarily a favorite, it was an above average read.

Title: Wench
Author: Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Pages: 304
Published: 2011 Harper Collins (orig. 2009)
My Rating: 3.5 stars


  1. This novel really appeals to me. Even though it wasn't a total hit for you, I'm hoping to get it from the library soon.

  2. It wasn't a total bomb either...enjoyable but not real long lasting. I've lent it to multiple people and they've seemed to like it. I look forward to hearing what you think about it!

  3. I read this one awhile ago. I loved the premise and enjoyed the writing, but it wasn't a book that really stuck with me. I guess I had higher hopes for it based on the premise.

  4. I absolutely loved this book. I experienced so many emotions while reading and often times had difficulty putting the book down. Great page turner and due to the fact that I am from Ohio I truly appreciate the history lesson.


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