Monday, April 5, 2010
Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez is a different take on the slave story than I have seen before.
Set in Ohio in a resort called Tawawa House it follows four female slaves who are their masters' mistresses. Every summer the slaves and their masters come to Tawawa House on vacation. The women openly live with the masters in small cottages outside of the main hotel.
Three of the ladies, Lizzie, Reenie and Sweet have been coming for years. New this year is Mawu - and she brings with her a frightening proposition. You see, Tawawa House is situated in free territory.
I found this story fascinating. That period in history is probably my favorite to read about. But I have never read a story showing this view of a female slave's life. Of course I knew how many of these slaves bore children for their masters. But most of what I read showed them being used and discarded. Not kept around as a "mistress".
Lizzie is the main character and for a period we go back in her earlier life and see what led her to where she is. When the discussions of running come up for most of the women the biggest issue with running is the children they would leave behind. Lizzie also doesn't want to leave her children but she also believes that she and her master love each other.
Be sure to grab a copy of this book and read the triumphs and tragedies of these four women. It was a fascinating read.