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
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!
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!
The hope in the main characters who, despite impossible circumstances, did what they thought was right. They were both very strong women!
The emotion and characterization that their narrations add to this book are indescribable?
Thought-provoking, in-depth, inspiring
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Definitely in the top ten.
The contrast in story line between Sarah the slave and Thedore the wife of a slave owner.
It was sad the way Charissa was treated by her Father.
Excellent narrator....well paced audio book.
The author was very vivid, I could see the characters and scenery.
I have always loved to read. As a child my mom actually grounded me from books if I was in trouble. Noone can do that now. Yay!
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!
Captivating, great narration.
Both readers have a wonderful ability to transform from one character to another and remain believable. When looking for a good book, I pick something from my list of favorite authors and good narrators. Because I needed to branch out to something different from my usual type of book, I picked "The Wedding Gift". It was a great choice and Jenna Lamia and January Lavoy are now at the top of the list of good narrators along with Barbara Rosenblat, who is my favorite.
"The Wedding Gift gives you a better understanding of what it felt like to be a slave at the mercy of man's beliefs, that because of the color of your skin, your value was less than the rest of humanity."
I don't usually reread or re-listen to books but this was an awesome book.
Cant name just one. I loved the narration of sarah and how she changed as she aged. I loved the narration of the men in the story(the lawyer, uncle Charles, the slaves on the plantation)
The accents in narration from those living in the south, to those in the islands
I usually only listen to Audio books while in my car to pass time as I drive a lot throughout the day for work. However, this book I listed to at home while cleaning, while laying in bed, while surfing the net.
Great book! I skipped over this book for several months because I have read plenty "slave trade/slave escape, tracing roots back to slavery type books and just wasn't inclined to read another one. Although this books plot was based around slavery it took on a different path from different perspectives. This is a great read
This story is told in the first person alternating between two characters. Jenna Lamia and January LaVoy do an outstanding job of bringing them to life. They also master the task of doing different voices when they are relating conversations the character is part of or listens to. The writing may not be the most artistically descriptive or flowery, but the characters felt very real and made you care about what happens to them. I would recommend this book to anyone who liked The Kitchen House or The Invention of Wings.
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