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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 (158 )
5 star
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4.3 (148 )
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4.4 (145 )
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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?


    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.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Niki Lawrenceburg, Kentucky 06-27-14
    Niki Lawrenceburg, Kentucky 06-27-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark O. Washington Kuwait 06-11-14
    Mark O. Washington 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.

    1 of 1 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 2012
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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.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly Colorado Springs 05-11-14
    Kelly Colorado Springs 05-11-14 Member Since 2011

    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!

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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!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shelfish IL, United States 10-03-14
    Shelfish IL, United States 10-03-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Very good book"

    I really enjoyed this book. It is set pre-civil war, the life of a southern family and their slaves. The story keeps your interest and entwines you in the characters lives. I have to say I enjoyed The Kitchen House better but this story is very worth listening to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kimberlytere United States 09-21-14
    kimberlytere United States 09-21-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Great book!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Wedding Gift to be better than the print version?

    Yes! love the narration.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The end, the twisted plot, the complicated relationships.


    What about Jenna Lamia and January LaVoy ’s performance did you like?

    She made it easy to listen to. She was animated and her accents were great.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thaysha PFLUGERVILLE, TX, United States 07-18-14
    Thaysha PFLUGERVILLE, TX, United States 07-18-14 Member Since 2013
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    12
    6
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    "Good read"
    Where does The Wedding Gift rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Middle of the road


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Sarah of course


    Which scene was your favorite?

    When Sarah finally hit free land


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Destiny


    Any additional comments?

    Author rushed the ending

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jodie Middletown, NY, United States 05-13-14
    Jodie Middletown, NY, United States 05-13-14 Member Since 2011

    I have a rather eclectic love of books. I know what I like and I tend not to be a severe critic. If I enjoyed it, it gets 4 or 5 stars.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful Story!"

    The story was great, but I gave one less star overall because some of the dialogue was awkward. The author appeared to try to use dialogue between the characters in order to explain historical events which made the conversations seem less than realistic. Otherwise though, the book was terrific and I highly recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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