Friday, March 26, 2010

13. WENCH - Dolen Perkins-Valdez

My father-in-law has a saying; when asked how he is doing, he replies, "I'm white, I'm male, I was born in the United States at the ideal time, and I am educated."

The women of Wench would answer a bit differently. As the mistresses of southern slave owners, they are brought to an Ohio resort during the mid 1850s that caters to men who can "love" them more openly. Under the ruse of a personal slave who washes, cooks, cleans, sweeps, and cares for the man, each woman has a different personal relationship with her master. While some, like Sweet, have borne several children and feel love for her man, others, like Mawu, despises her master and begins the talk that changes their lives.

Ohio was free territory, but until Mawu began talking of being a "free black," like the hotel's servants, none of the others considered other options for their lives or their children's lives. Their choices would eventually reunite them or divide them forever from their families.

The most powerful part of the novel was the characterization in its short 300 pages. Four women with different beliefs and relationships psychologically stand together with the strength of Stonehenge. A shift of the hip or a glance tells much more than an entire page.

Like The Help, this is a peek at a world I would never know or understand. How are you doing today, Kristin? I am white, I'm a strong woman, I was born in the United States at the ideal time, and I am educated. I am a lucky, lucky woman.

4.25 out of 5.0 Code Limons.


Unknown said...

The Help is on my long list of books that I would like to read.

Pam Walter said...

This sounds very interesting! Am going to put it on my list to read along with The Help. Thanks for the review.