Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

wench \'wench\ n. from Middle English "wenchel," 1 a: a girl, maid, young woman; a female child. 2. A black or colored female servant; a negress; a colored woman of any age; a negress or mularess, especially one in service.

For several years now Lizzie has visited Tawawa House with Drayle in the summer. Tawawa House is like most resorts with its idyllic setting and Southern hospitality. But what is especially ideal at Tawawa are its quaint cabins that surround the property providing the isolation and privacy needed for the Southern gentlemen who vacation with their black enslaved mistresses.

Lizzie, Reenie and Sweet know that as long as they are their masters favorite, they will meet up in the summers. Here in Tawawa they are able to lead a more relaxed life, they can discuss their lives at their respective plantations, the hardships, their dreams and hopes. But when new girl, Mawu, joins them this summer they find that the prospect of freedom, even if running away is the only way of obtaining it, is something that they can't get out of their thoughts.

It must sound terrible of me when I say that I thought this book was fantastic when it deals with such a terrible thing as slavery. But Ms. Perkins-Valdez does such an amazing job of bringing these women to life. Half way through the book you feel as if they are your friends, you feel protective and downright insulted by their treatment. Slavery is something so unfathomable and even though the circumstances were quite brutal, I found that the story is told in a way were it didn't feel oppressive or difficult to read. On the other hand, I felt somewhat hopeful in the end.

Lizzie was, by far, my favorite character. Her narration was what really drew me into the book. Her struggles became my struggles - the fact that all she wanted was for Drayle to free their children and nothing for herself, really endeared her to me. I also found it interesting to read about Drayle's wife and how she acted towards Lizzie and their illegitimate children.

I thought this was a unique and realistic tale about the life of a slave mistress. Although not a happy subject, Ms. Perkins-Valdez's novel is one that I became fully engrossed in. It brought tears to my eyes and had me biting my lip with worry. But through it all I felt that I learned of a time in our history that I knew very little of. What more could I really ask for in a book?


Tea said...


You write so well. I like it when a book makes me feel like a "friend" of the people in it. Thanks.

Juju at Tales of said...

Great review!

Jennifer @ Mrs. Q: Book Addict said...

I'm really hoping to buy this book soon. It sounds like a great read!

Cleverly Inked said...

Very Different! Beautiful Cover

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

Great review! I like when I connect or feel like a friend with the characters in the book. I'll have to get my hands on this book!

Aarti said...

I'm so excited to read this one! I have it on my shelf and am saving it for a little later. So glad it's so good!

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