Book Review: Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdes

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I got this book for free as part of the TLC Book Tour pro­mo­tion.
The pub­lisher has kindly made avail­able to one (1) copy to be given out — Enter at the end of the post.

My rat­ing for Wench – 4

“Wench” by Dolen Perkins-Valdes (Web­site | Twit­ter) if a fic­tional story which takes place exam­ines the rela­tion­ship between white mas­ters and their con­cu­bines slaves. The story mostly takes place in the early 1850s at an Ohio vaca­tion resort called Tawawa House (now Old Wilber­force Uni­ver­sity) .

Get a dis­count on “Wench” through the ManOfLa­Book affil­i­ate account on:
Ama­zon |Book Depos­i­tory US | Book Depos­i­tory UK

“Wench” by Dolen Perkins-Valdes cen­ters around, and told by, a house slave named Lizzie who is the mis­tress of her owner Nathan Drayle. Nathan is a poor man who mar­ried to Francesca who is heiress to a rich South­ern family.

The book is an easy read but art­fully told and well writ­ten story. The nar­ra­tive is clean and some­time even lyri­cal.  The char­ac­ters are multi-dimensional, vivid and fully real­ized; sur­pris­ingly many of the minor char­ac­ters are well devel­oped as well. Perkins-Valdes made a coura­geous deci­sion; she started out the book with her pro­tag­o­nist mak­ing an unpop­u­lar choice which frankly made her unlike­able almost imme­di­ately. Later in the novel the author focuses on how Lizzie and Nathan’s rela­tion­ship began and that’s when we start under­stand our pro­tag­o­nist better.

Through the sup­port­ing cast, Perkins-Valdes shows other aspects of mas­ter and slave/mistresses rela­tion­ships.  How­ever no mat­ter in which rela­tion­ship the women are in, the author did a fan­tas­tic job of cap­tur­ing the indig­nity of slav­ery. Not only are you your master's prop­erty but every­one else see fit to do what­ever they want to you  as well, often with lit­tle or no con­se­quences.  Together with the phys­i­cal strug­gle, the emo­tional toll taken on the women is enor­mous. Not only are the women slaves, but being women they have even less rights even within the slave com­mu­nity. The only thing the women have is their abil­ity to love themselves.

In the early 1850s Nathan Drayle brings his slave/mistress Lizzie to Tawawa House, a real (although no longer in exis­tence) resort in which while South­ern males did bring their black con­cu­bines for a “work­ing vaca­tion”. This way the males could relax with their mis­tresses with­out those pesty South­ern wives being around.  Since Nathan brings Lizzie to Tawawa House annu­ally, she devel­ops a rela­tion­ship with the other slaves/mistress Ree­nie, Sweet and Mawu.

Get a dis­count on “Wench” through the ManOfLa­Book affil­i­ate account on:
Ama­zon |Book Depos­i­tory US | Book Depos­i­tory UK


  • Con­test is for one (1) new copy of “Wench”.
  • There will be ONE (1) WINNER
  • Must be a US / Canada mail­ing Address
  • Ends Tues­day Feb­ru­ary 1, 2011
  • Win­ners will be cho­sen using
  • Win­ners will have 24 hours after my ini­tial con­tact to write back their mail­ing address, oth­er­wise alter­nate win­ners will be picked

  • Con­grat­u­la­tions: taffy.### (full name as email).

Dolen’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS

Tues­day, Jan­u­ary 25th: Lit and Life
Wednes­day, Jan­u­ary 26th: Man of La Book
Thurs­day, Jan­u­ary 27th: Take Me Away
Mon­day, Jan­u­ary 31st: Jo-Jo Loves to Read!
Wednes­day, Feb­ru­ary 2nd: Bib­lio­phil­iac
Fri­day, Feb­ru­ary 4th: Rund­pinne
Tues­day, Feb­ru­ary 8th: red headed book child
Thurs­day, Feb­ru­ary 10th: Chef­druck Mus­ings
Mon­day, Feb­ru­ary 14th: In the Next Room
Tues­day, Feb­ru­ary 15th: Rag­ing Bib­lio­ma­nia
Wednes­day, Feb­ru­ary 16th: Debbie’s Book Bag
Thurs­day, Feb­ru­ary 17th: Peek­ing Between the Pages

Zohar — Man of la Book

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