Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez is a book that is powerful in it’s telling and it will have your emotions bouncing back and forth between being horrified at the events to admiration and hope for these strong and enduring people. Wench is a story of slavery focusing on one woman in particular, Lizzie, a mother and a slave with the story alternating between the present and Lizzie’s past.
Lizzie’s story is told with such depth and feeling that your heart aches for her. Really the author portrays all her characters -Sweet, Reenie, Mawu, Phillip and others in such a way that you feel you are inside these characters seeing and feeling the horrors they have endured and continue to throughout the novel. More of the story is told of Lizzie though and it is to her I feel a special attachment. She was a brave,caring and stood up for what she wanted even if it meant suffering herself . She was trapped in a life of slavery as were her children like so many others during that time in the 1800’s.
Every summer Lizzie’s master Drayle took her to a summer resort in Ohio. Lizzie looked forward to this trip but hated leaving her children behind. It is here that she meets the women Sweet, Reenie and Mawu that become her friends. These women are all mistresses of their masters; their lives revolve around making sure these men are taken care of. However at this resort they are exposed to seeing free blacks and begin to hear about abolition which starts them on the path of thinking of their own freedom and that it might be possible. That is all but Lizzie, who truly feels she is in love with her master and he with her. She doesn’t want to leave him but even more than that she will not leave her children behind.
The emotional and physical abuse these women suffer at the hands of their masters is atrocious and disturbing to say the least. The women dream of a different life; a life where they are free to do what they want – to just live and be happy without the fear that rules their lives. It’s hard to believe but Lizzie, Reenie, Sweet and Mawu are actually favored slaves. Lizzie especially seems to have a better life in that she has her own room in the family home and receives many favors that the other slaves at home can only dream about. Yet she is still trapped in a life where her every move is controlled. What isn’t controlled though is her mind – that is still hers. What will these women decide to do – will they risk their very lives and run?
To know that this kind of abuse actually occurred in our history is even more horrific. Many times throughout reading this book my heart just fell. It’s hard for us today to imagine living through what they did and truthfully I don’t think I would have been able to. I find it very hard to read about people being treated so horribly yet at the same time I know how important it is to read novels like Wench because it keeps alive in our minds that this can never happen again to anyone.
Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez is a story that will stay with you long after you close the cover on the last page. My mind is still full of thoughts on these women and all the men and women who endured lives of slavery. This book captured my heart. Yes it’s hard to read but at the same time the strength of these women inspired me. I would definitely recommend the novel Wench without any hesitation. It will be one of my favorites this year!
I read Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez for her book tour with TLC Book Tours. You can see what others thought of the novel at the other tour stops. Be sure to stop in and visit Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s website as well as finding her on Twitter: @dolen. You can purchase your own copy of Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez here in the US and here in Canada. Check back on Saturday when I post a giveaway for this wonderful novel!
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My copy of Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez was received for review from TLC Book Tours and the publisher.