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The Wedding Gift | [Marlen Suyapa Bodden]

The Wedding Gift

When Cornelius Allen gives his daughter Clarissa’s hand in marriage, he presents her with a wedding gift: the young slave she grew up with, Sarah. Sarah is also Allen’s daughter and Clarissa’s sister, a product of his longtime relationship with his house slave, Emmeline. When Clarissa’s husband suspects that their newborn son is illegitimate, Clarissa and Sarah are sent back to her parents, Cornelius and Theodora, in shame, setting in motion a series of events that will destroy this once-powerful family.
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Publisher's Summary

When Cornelius Allen gives his daughter Clarissa’s hand in marriage, he presents her with a wedding gift: the young slave she grew up with, Sarah. Sarah is also Allen’s daughter and Clarissa’s sister, a product of his longtime relationship with his house slave, Emmeline. When Clarissa’s husband suspects that their newborn son is illegitimate, Clarissa and Sarah are sent back to her parents, Cornelius and Theodora, in shame, setting in motion a series of events that will destroy this once-powerful family.

Told through alternating viewpoints of Sarah and Theodora Allen, Cornelius’ wife, The Wedding Gift is a stunning novel that shows where the complicated and compelling bonds and relationships between women explored in novels like The Help and The Secret Life of Bees began. Marlen Suyapa Bodden's novel is an intimate portrait that shows where this particular American story and dynamic all started and will leave listeners breathless.

Includes a reading group guide read by the author.

©2013 Marlen Suyapa Bodden (P)2013 Macmillan Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (339 )
5 star
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4.5 (306 )
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Performance
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  •  
    C. Crawford 01-19-14
    C. Crawford 01-19-14

    Love to read - began listening to audio books while driving - to keep me from falling asleep. Have grown to LOVE audio books - I'm addicted!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wow! You must listen to this audio book!"
    What did you love best about The Wedding Gift?

    There were many parts of this book that were hard to read/listen to because it deals with slavery. This is something that I sometimes just want to pretend never happened it is so unbelievably horrible. That being said, this book is so well written that I couldn't stop reading it. The author did an amazing job of being true to history and at the same time developing fictional characters that were well thought out and believable all the way through. And the narrators were just perfect - the best I've heard!


    What did you like best about this story?

    The hope in the main characters who, despite impossible circumstances, did what they thought was right. They were both very strong women!


    What does Jenna Lamia and January LaVoy bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The emotion and characterization that their narrations add to this book are indescribable?


    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Niki Lawrenceburg, Kentucky 06-27-14
    Niki Lawrenceburg, Kentucky 06-27-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
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    13
    13
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    "Superb narration"
    If you could sum up The Wedding Gift in three words, what would they be?

    Thought-provoking, in-depth, inspiring


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Theodora because she had such spiritual and emotional poise in light of her full awareness of her husbands dealings and how she treated Sarah. I would like to think that there were a some wives like her around at that time


    Which character – as performed by Jenna Lamia and January LaVoy – was your favorite?

    The narration absolutely made this book for me. I believe it would have been a different experience, I might not have even liked it so much, if I had just read it and not hear the characters come alive. I could choose one or the other. I thoroughly enjoyed the typical way of talking of these ladies and those who they represent. A superb job by both narrators!


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, I finished it very quickly after I caught on to the pattern of the book. I was very interested in hearing the "flip side" of the same events.


    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Milwaukee, WI, United States 02-01-15
    Richard Milwaukee, WI, United States 02-01-15 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Surprise Ending"

    Caution! Possible spoiler alert...

    When an ending is unexpected but on reflection is logical and in keeping with the setting and the character, it can be successful and make the reader think carefully. It might challenge the reader's own prejudice and assumption.

    Yet when an ending is as unexpected as the actions of Sara related to her master and particularly her young husband come out of thin air, it compromises what could have been a stellar rating.

    Perhaps the action toward her master at least makes sense in context. The behavior toward Isaac most assuredly does not. This surprise left me feeling manipulated and annoyed as if it was tacked on for shock value.

    Though I listened through to the end and enjoyed much of the book, I did find myself asking whether the story brought any new insight into human character and historical understanding during the time of slavery in America or whether it was a bit repetitive with nothing much new or different to say. Sadly, I am inclined to the latter.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kath Danvers, MA, United States 08-03-14
    Kath Danvers, MA, United States 08-03-14 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Slavery as viewed by 2 sisters, only 1 a slave"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this book to a friend. Historic fiction gives us different views of how life existed. How life today is different and yet so similar.


    What other book might you compare The Wedding Gift to and why?

    This book is very similar to Sue Monk Kidd's The Invention of Winds in that it looks at slavery as viewed from two sisters. However, in this book, the father is the plantation master and he has two daughters. His wife gives birth to a daughter and then one of his slaves gives birth to his other daughter, a slave. The slave daughter becomes the lady's maid to her sister. I appreciated this view because it made me think more about what it would be like to be born a slave and as the daughter of the plantation owner. It is sad to think that someone would have two children and think of each so differently, because of their skin color.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Kuwait 06-11-14
    Amazon Customer Kuwait 06-11-14 Member Since 2012

    Markow

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    "Excellent novel"
    Where does The Wedding Gift rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Definitely in the top ten.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The contrast in story line between Sarah the slave and Thedore the wife of a slave owner.


    Which character – as performed by Jenna Lamia and January LaVoy – was your favorite?

    Sarah


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It was sad the way Charissa was treated by her Father.


    Any additional comments?

    Excellent narrator....well paced audio book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia MIAMI BEACH, FL, United States 05-18-14
    Cynthia MIAMI BEACH, FL, United States 05-18-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "I was up past 4 a.m. listening to this book!"
    What did you like best about this story?

    The author was very vivid, I could see the characters and scenery.


    Which character – as performed by Jenna Lamia and January LaVoy – was your favorite?

    Sarah


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, absolutely.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly Colorado Springs 05-11-14
    Kelly Colorado Springs 05-11-14 Member Since 2011

    Reading allows me to travel through time, to visit the world's unique and stunning places, to become somebody I am not... It is glorious.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good story. Excellent narration."

    I wasn't sure what to expect of this book but based on a few reviews and it's beautiful cover art I spent a credit. I am glad that I did. While the plot doesn't delve as deeply into the culture of slavery in the 30 years before the civil war, it does explore some of the personalities of the era. We got to know the spoiled child of the wealthy plantation owners, the slave forced to act as a mistress to her master, the lady of the house who knows nothing other than things which occur in the home, and the slaves who work in the home. The author allowed me to develop feelings for Sarah, Belle, Emmaline, Theodora and Clarissa. She allowed me to feel disgust with Mr. Allen by giving me glimpses into his treatment of the women and girls around him. And eventually she allowed me to cheer for Sarah to run, to escape, to find a life outside of slavery.

    I would have liked for this to be a longer book. One of the reasons I love the book Gone With the Wind is that it's length gave the author the ability to pull in so much more history.

    The narrators of this book are superb!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sidsangel 06-14-15
    Sidsangel 06-14-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Amazing"

    Gives me a much better understanding of what the slaves went thru. It was horrible & disgusting what slave owners did to men, women & children of color. I could never do such a thing to Gods children.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Wilson 06-10-15 Member Since 2011
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    "Really like it. Easy read."

    Makes you think Bout where this country has been and how it got here and how sad so many parts of it is

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brandi Sorento, IL United States 06-07-15
    Brandi Sorento, IL United States 06-07-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Wonderful listen! Highly recommend!"

    This was a suggestion based on my wish list and I'm so thrilled I bought it. This is a wonderful listen. Narration is great, plot is thick and complex, characters are warm and well-developed. Both heartbreaking and inspiring, it's a story of slavery, struggle, family bonds, and triumphs.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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