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Vern's Recommended Read: Wench #naturalhair

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I’m Vernadette a true southern girl. I love Jesus with all my heart and reading books is my favorite pastime. I guess I should mention that I have also been rocking natural hair since 1996! I’ve always been an avid reader since I could read. I was always making book recommendations to my friends so I decided to make my recommendations to the entire world via my blog, prissybooksnob.blogspot.com.

My latest review is for Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez. This book addresses a really heavy subject matter: slave mistresses and their Masters who love them and own them. I would suggest this book to all women, not just African-American women, because it gives insight from mistress’s point of view. This book totally changed my view on the whole master and mistress relationship structure. Even though most of these women were essentially raped and forced into relationships some fell in love. The complexity of this love is what we read about in Wench.

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

I have read hundreds of books but this one has left a lasting impression on my heart. The story is about endearing friendships, the love a mother, a forbidden love, and a discovery of self. Most of all I would have to say that this novel shows how love actually does “bear all things.” This novel also changed the way I had previously viewed slave/master “intimate” relationships. I truly hated for this book to end.


The narrator of this story is Eliza “Lizzie” houseslave on the Drayle plantation. Drayle is Lizzie’s master and father of her two children Nate and May who is affectionately known as “Rabbit.” Every summer, Drayle and Lizzie vacation at the Tawawa Resort in OH. There they are met by three other men along with their “negro wenches.” At Tawawa is where we begin to learn about all their lives. There is Sweet, Mawu, and Reenie. Phillip is the male slave that travels with Drayle and Lizzie. Phillip is Drayle’s most trust slave on the plantation and Lizzie’s dearest friend. During these summer vacations, Lizzie, Mawu, Reenie, and Sweet get to know what it feels like to be somewhat “free.” In a sense, these vacations do nothing but fuel the desire for freedom. While the others are overshadowed with the thoughts of freedom, Lizzie is overwhelmed by love. Lizzie has a love for her children and a love for Drayle that is incomprehensible considering that ultimately she is his “property.” Mawu is from Louisiana and shows the most strength of all the women. She is also the main one that confronts Lizzie about her love for Drayle asking on one occasion, “Is he your God?” Mawu also makes it very clear that she does not love Tip, her master, the only reason she accompanies him is because he “owns” her. Reenie is the silent one of the group and the oldest. By the end of the novel we learn that she is the one with the most courage despite her silence. Sweet is the total embodiment of a mother which leads to a shocking tragedy.

Early on we learn that Drayle favors Lizzie. I dare say he loves her. He brings her gifts for “gifts” in return. Drayle teaches Lizzie to read. The ability to read proves valuable Lizzie, her children, and other slaves. Lizzie also learns to manipulate Drayle for certain favors. I became so caught up in Lizzie and Drayle’s love story that I often forgot about his wife, Fran. Fran is not a hateful mistress but she is mean spirited. Lizzie was able to give Drayle what she, Fran, was never able to produce, children. Fran was more resentful of Lizzie than evil to her.

How you deal with forbidden love, suicide attempts, abortion, abolitionist ideals, runaway slaves, voodoo, deceit, and death of all proportions in one story is amazing but Dolen Perkins Valdez pulls it all off without missing a beat. The story was seamless and it just keeps pulling at you. There were times I cried and others that I cheered. I felt like I knew these women personally and their hurt was my hurt and their joy my joy. Perkins-Valdez wrote a story that will forever be relevant.

Guest Blogger: Vern (twitter)

For more reviews check out her blog

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3 comments

  1. That was definitely a great book, just read it a few months ago and I loved it. I love African American books, especially books set way back in the day and about slavery because I love African American history. Another good book I just finished reading is The Darkest Child by Delores Philips, I read that book in about 4 days, it was sooo good and oh soooo crazy.

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  2. Yaaaay Vern!!! ((hugs)) This is a great post!! :)

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  3. @ anonymous so ironic you mention the Darkest Child because I have that book in my TBR pile! Now I'm gonna pull it out and devor it! lol!

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