Book Review: Wench


Dolen Perkins-Valdez


320 pages

Lizzie is a slave involved in a romantic relationship with her master Drayle, with whom she has two children.  Lizzie loves Drayle and clings to the idea of having a companion, even if the situation is not ideal.  Every summer, Lizzie and Drayle travel to a resort in Ohio where white masters customarily take their black slaves.  Lizzie is spending her third summer there, and has formed a strong bond with two other slaves there, Sweet and Reenie.  Their group is joined by a fourth slave, Mawu, who is much more restless than the other women and is constantly planning a way out of slavery.

Wench was much different than what I expected. I was so interested in the idea of this resort that was visited by masters and their slave mistresses, but the resort wasn’t a focus of the book at all, much to my disappointment.  I wanted to hear all about the hotel; what it was like, who was there, what the history of the place was, etc.  Instead it was just a hazy backdrop.  Wench was still a good story in its own right though. The four women were all very different and they each represented a different reaction to a situation that was all too common in the south in the 19th century.  All four women viewed their relationship with their masters in a different light.  All four women had different priorities when it came to their lives, whether those priorities be freedom, their love for their children, or something else.

I had one otherslight problem with Wench, which was that it seemed a little sub par as far as writing goes. The book just seemed amateur and not as polished as I would have liked.  Because of that, I was hesitant at first and it took me longer to submerge myself in the story than it otherwise would have.  I think that the subject matter gave the author a little leeway in the sense that the story alone was enough to keep my attention but I would be a little hesitant to read more by her.

This book will be up for discussion with my book club at the end of the month.  I think it will elicit a great discussion, so I look forward to hearing what my fellow book clubbers have to say.

Other Reviews:

Book Chatter

Book Journey

The Girl from the Ghetto

S Krishna’s Books

Lesley’s Book Nook

Take Me Away

Lit and Life

I read this book on my mom’s nook.

12 Responses

  1. I think I liked this one a little more than you did, but you stated your position with candor and elegance, and I can totally see things from your point of view as well. I agree that I would have liked to see more of the resort, but that didn’t seem to be the focus of the book. Great and very introspective review today. I both appreciated it and enjoyed it!

  2. I really want to read this book because of the subject matter – I never knew resorts like that existed. I am disappointed to see the writing isn’t the best, but I’m sure I’ll still read it.

  3. I really wanted to read this one when it first came out, and I continually remember that I want to pick up a copy. Sorry the writing wasn’t as polished as you would have liked. I think I need to try this one out because I’ve been thinking of it since it came out.

  4. I read it in book form and then listened to the audio. It comes across slightly better in audio. We discussed this for my book club and we tons to discuss, but many were not happy with Lizzie at the end. They didn’t feel that she made a big enough leap to become something else, but personally, if it had ended differently I’m not sure it would have be realistic.

  5. Thanks for sharing my review link. Our book club had a pretty interesting discussion over it.

  6. sounds interesting. i’d love to read some nonfiction on the subject!

  7. I’d forgotten about how the setting is played up more in the book description…and how it doesn’t really appear as more than a backdrop to the story. I never really thought about it while I was reading, but you’re definitely right. The characters are the main focus.

  8. This does sound like it’ll be a good book for a book club discussion, even if it wasn’t stellar in other respects.

  9. I did like this one, and it would make a great discussion book I think (although I read it last year so the details escape me already…LOL)

  10. I have this one on my bookshelf and keep meaning to read it. Maybe I should suggest it to my bookclub too!

  11. I listened to the audio version and the narrator had such a lovely voice. I have no idea what the writing was actually like- it sounded so nice.

  12. I did like the writing on this one, but I could see where it wasn’t quite as literary as maybe expected. I was a little surprised too that the plot made it sound slightly different than it was, but I liked the characters and their stories!

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