Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wench-Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Amistad, Jan 5 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780061706547

In 1852 their four respective owners took the wenches with them while they vacation at Tawawa House in Ohio. The four females accompanying these men are slaves, but though limited in time to meet with each other, they forge a friendship. Lizzie, Reenie, Sweet and Mawu are slaves who are their master’s mistress.

Ohio opens their eyes when they meet free blacks and learn of the abolitionist movement from Glory the white female Quaker who speaks to each of them as equal humans. Ironically these free blacks are uneasy with the slaves amidst them. Reenie belongs to her half-brother who is far from a protector of his sibling; she relishes freedom. Sweet is pregnant and frightened, but still wants her liberty. Mawu covets the idea of belonging to herself especially since her owner is a cruel sadist. Lizzie considers the concept but in her way she loves her kind Master and does not want to leave him; however she wants him to free her children. Her fellow slave Phillip likes the idea of freedom too. They discuss running away, but a frightened Lizzie betrays them to her Master.

Wench is a super historical thriller with a powerful cast whose personalities develop for the reader over the insightful but at times meandering story line. Each key player, especially the four titled characters, are unique with different needs and wants. It is easy to diss Lizzie, but once the reader knows her, they will understand why. Fans will appreciate this strong antebellum tale of life as a mistress-slave in the decade prior to the Civil War.

Harriet Klausner

No comments: