An ambitious and startling debut novel that follows the lives of four women at a resort popular among slaveholders who bring their enslaved mistresses.
wench \'wench\ n. from Middle English "wenchel," 1 a: a girl, maid, young woman; a female child.
Tawawa House in many respects is like any other American resort before the Civil War. Situated in Ohio, this idyllic retreat is particularly nice in the summer when the Southern humidity is too much to bear. The main building, with its luxurious finishes, is loftier than the white cottages that flank it, but then again, the smaller structures are better positioned to catch any breeze that may come off the pond. And they provide more privacy, which best suits the needs of the Southern white men who vacation there every summer with their black, enslaved mistresses. It's their open secret.
Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet are regulars at Tawawa House. They have become friends over the years as they reunite and share developments in their own lives and on their respective plantations. They don't bother too much with questions of freedom, though the resort is situated in free territory, but when truth-telling Mawu comes to the resort and starts talking of running away, things change.
To run is to leave behind everything these women value most - friends and families - still down South, and for some it also means escaping from the emotional and psychological bonds that bind them to their masters. When a fire on the resort sets off a string of tragedies, the women of Tawawa House soon learn that triumph and dehumanization are inseparable and that love exists even in the most inhuman, brutal of circumstances, all while they are bearing witness to the end of an era.
An engaging and wholly original novel, Wench explores, with an unflinching eye, the moral complexities of slavery.
©2010 Dolen Perkins-Valdez (P)2010 HarperCollins Publishers
Ruthless the Lady Dragon!
Ancestral relavance,friendship,love and joy. Wilberforce! now I have a greater connection to this university and the AME church.
ENTERTAINING SORROWFUL ENLIGHTENING
THIS STORY WAS MEATY. FULL OF HILLS AND VALLEYS
I can't recall if I have.
The story pulled me in and didn't let go until the end.
It has to be a book 2. What happened to Mawu? What happened to Lizzie? I didn't want the book to end.
I'd like to hear more from this artist. Her performance of all the characters was incredible. Made me want to continue listening and added interest to the story.
I really like books of this type and i was following pretty good until it ended very flatly. I wanted more resolution of characters.. I guess i will just use my imagination....ohh well
The twists and turns in the story and the character development
The Book of Night Women - not as deep, but the relationships between the characters had a similar feel.
There were many scenes that were memorable, but the account of Sweet's reaction to the death of her children was very moving.
Eliza was the main character; her story was most fully developed, but Mawu was the most memorable character because of her defiance of convention; not only of her position as a slave, but also her unconventional reactions to motherhood, Christianity, friendship - even freedom.
This story was a slow starter; it was mainly the superb performance of Quincy Tyler Bernstine that kept my attention, until I had developed a feel for the characters. It was well worth sticking with, however; the plot twists were well-timed and rang true. One interesting and perhaps unintended feature of the book was to show how slave owners were trapped by the institution of slavery. While they could dehumanize and brutalize their slaves with impunity, they were prevented from forming ordinary human connections with their slaves, even when they lived closely together. The best feature of this book was to reveal the characters' weaknesses and strengths without categorizing them as either heroes or villains. The complexity of the character's personalities, along with the complexity of the story line, makes this a very satisfying read.
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