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19 January 2010

Book Tour & Review: Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Title: Wench
Author: Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Publisher: Amistad
Publication Date: January 5, 2010
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN: 978-0061706547
Genre: Historical Fiction


About the Book:

Situated in the free state of Ohio, Tawawa House offers respite from the summer heat. A beautiful, inviting house surrounded by a dozen private cottages, the resort is favored by wealthy Southern white men who vacation there, accompanied by their enslaved mistresses. Regular visitors Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet have forged an enduring friendship.

They look forward to their annual reunion and the opportunity it affords them to talk over the changes in their lives and their respective plantations. The subject of freedom is never spoken aloud until the red-maned, spirited Mawu arrives and voices her determination to escape. To run is to leave behind the friends and families trapped at home. For some, it also means tearing the strong emotional and psychological ties that bind them to their masters.

When a fire on the resort sets off a string of tragedies, Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet soon learn tragic lessons, that triumph and dehumanization are inseparable and that love exists even in the cruelest circumstances as they bear witness to the end of an era.

My Review:

In Dolen Perkins-Valdez's debut novel Wench, the reader is brought into the lives of four slaves thrown together by chance and circumstances and the ties that bind them to each other and those that keep them forever apart. The story is told through Lizzie's eyes, a slave from Tennessee, the only one of the four friends who is able to read and write. With vivid imagery and stunning detail, each woman comes to life and the reader is transported back into a time long passed. From the first page the reader becomes acquainted with George, Henry, Mawu, Reenie and Sweet and swiftly learns how Lizzie and Philip first become acquainted with each other on the way to Tawawa, a summer resort in free Ohio, where their respective masters have brought their woman and a trusted or valuable male slave. The first summer the four women, so very different from each other, become not only good friends, but also teachers to each other. It is during their first summer the women encounter those who are free. The notion of becoming free is a seed planted into each woman and their summers sustain them through the rest of the year until they are able to reunite. Wench is a heart-breaking and beautiful story of a turbulent time in history, which brings the struggle between slavery and freedom to light through Mawu, Reenie, Sweet, and Lizzie, as each woman struggles within herself. Wench is a novel that one will want to devour, digest and read again.

About the Author:

Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s fiction and essays The Kenyon Review, African American Review, PMS: PoemMemoirStory, North Carolina Literary Review, Richard Wright Newsletter, and SLI: Studies in Literary Imagination. She is a 2009 finalist for the Robert Olen Butler Fiction Award. A graduate of Harvard and a former University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow, Dolen splits her time between Seattle and Washington, DC. She is a faculty member of the University of Puget Sound where she teaches Creative Writing. Wench is her first book of fiction. You can visit Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s website,her blog or connect with her on Twitter.

Dolen Perkins-Valdez's WENCH VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ‘10 will officially begin on Jan. 4th and end on Jan. 29th. You can visit Dot’s blog stops at to discover more about this great book and its talented author.

I received a copy of Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez from Pump Up Your Book Promotion as part of the tour. Receiving a copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.



stacybuckeye said...

This sounds interesting, even more because I'm from Ohio. Thanks for the review!

Kristi said...

This book sounds so good! Thanks for the review!

longbrakeliving said...

This sounds like a wonderful book I'd love to read! I'm adding it to my TBR list.

Amused said...

This books sounds great! I can't wait to check it out!

Alaine - Queen of Happy Endings said...

I've got this book on my list to read this week. Thanks for the review, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Teddyree said...

Thanks for the wonderful review, it sounds like one I'd love to read. Definitely going straight on my wishlist :-)

Sharon said...

I want to read this!