A Novel

Perkins-Valdez, Dolen

Book - 2010
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Baker & Taylor
Slave mistresses Lizzie, Reenie and Sweet travel to a resort in Ohio each year with their white masters, until Mawu shows up and encourages the three others to escape, forcing them to choose between freedom and leaving their friends and families--and the emotional and psychological ties that bind them to their masters. A first novel. 25,000 first printing.


Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez is startling and original fiction that raises provocative questions of power and freedom, love and dependence. An enchanting and unforgettable novel based on little-known fact, Wench combines the narrative allure of Cane River by Lalita Tademy and the moral complexities of Edward P. Jones’s The Known World as it tells the story of four black enslaved women in the years preceding the Civil War. A stunning debut novel, Wench marks author Perkins-Valdez—previously a finalist for the 2009 Robert Olen Butler Short Fiction Prize—as a writer destined for greatness.

& Taylor

Slave mistresses Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet travel to a resort in Ohio each year with their white masters, until Mawu shows up and encourages them to escape, forcing them to choose between freedom and leaving their friends and families.
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.--From publisher description.

Publisher: New York : Amistad, c2010
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 006170654X
Branch Call Number: FIC P
Characteristics: 293 p. ; 24 cm.


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Dec 19, 2013
  • molmil8 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Very good read, although a few violent scenes. Heart-breaking at times, but a compelling story. Liked the occasional Canadian references regarding The Underground Railroad. I love novels that can teach history at the same time.

May 31, 2013
  • finn75 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

This book made me so angry at the treatment of these women. I wanted to break some bones! Yet it also showed how complicated the relationships could become when children were involved. Heartbreaking especially considering this is based on a real vacation spot for white men and their slaves.

Apr 17, 2013
  • joliebergman rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

One of the most depressing books I've ever read.

May 23, 2012
  • anisoz rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Fan-freakin'-tastic. I had no idea.

Jan 05, 2012
  • BookDiva rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A definite must read for those who enjoy southern historical fiction. Enjoyed every page, with a well rounded story and fantastic character development, this book rivals The Help for my favorite read of 2011.

Jul 28, 2011

Somehow, without graphic sex or violence this book still managed to tell a story so disturbing I could not stand to finish it. Though the book is fiction, undoubtedly every word of it was truth for so many.
I WILL pick the story back up at some point, I care enough about the characters to hear their entire story eventually.

This book makes Amistad look like light summer reading.

May 02, 2011
  • m2 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

This one was a page - turner. I read the book in 2 days and really wanted to stay up even later and finish in one day. An amazing story constructed out of a short historical notice about a resort in Ohio catering to white southerners and their black female slaves. Devastating details -- and yet the story isn't maudlin or patronizing. Much better than The Help ( to which the cover of the paperback compares it) because it is told from the perspective of the slave women, not an outsider do-gooder.
Good for book clubs, though. Immediately prior to the civil war in history...so good for those who are looking back to the Civil War due to the recent milestone.

May 21, 2010
  • lenore rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

This book has moments of brilliance but they are mere moments. I found myself lost in spots trying to figure out which character was which. Having said that, it was a good read as well as an interesting one.


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