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Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Wench

Dolen Perkins Valdez Wench
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Series:

P.S.

Main description:

wench \'wench\ n. from Middle English “wenchel,”1 a: a girl, maid, young woman; a female child.

Situated in Ohio, a free territory before the Civil War, Tawawa House isan idyllic retreat for Southern white men who vacation there every summerwith their enslaved black mistresses. It’s their open secret. Lizzie,Reenie, and Sweet are regulars at the resort, building strong friendships over theyears. But when Mawu, as fearless as she is assured, comes along and starts talkingof running away, things change. To run is to leave everything behind, and forsome it also means escaping from the emotional and psychological bonds thatbind them to their masters. When a fire on the resort sets off a string of tragedies,the women of Tawawa House soon learn that triumph and dehumanization areinseparable and that love exists even in the most inhuman, brutal of circumstances—all while they bear witness to the end of an era.

An engaging, page-turning, and wholly original novel, Wench explores, withan unflinching eye, the moral complexities of slavery.

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“[A] fascinating and tragic story. . . . [A] compulsive read.”

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“[A] memorable and engaging debut.”

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“[A] memorable first novel . . . Readers of historical fiction centering on Southern women’s stories like Lalita Tademy’s Cane River or Lee Smith’s On Agate Hill will be moved by the skillful portrayal of Lizzie’s precarious situation and the tragic stories of her fellow slaves.”

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“[E]lectrifying. . . . [T]his remarkable novel skillfully dramatizes a dark chapter in American history. Writing with lyrical grace and a gift for plot development, Perkins-Valdez has produced an inspiring portrait of four brave women and the risks they take to change their lives.”

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“A fabulously creative and daring historical novel .”

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“A finely wrought story that explores the emotional lives of four slave women caught in the web of the Peculiar Institution.”

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“A heartbreaker, full of understated tragedy and lyrical prose. . . . Perkins-Valdez has woven a devastatingly beautiful account of a cruel past.”

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“A mesmerizing read.”

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“A powerful story.”

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“A shattering story told with dignity, compassion, and some wicked humor. A brave, honest, beautifully written book that will shock and move readers to much new awareness.”

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“A striking debut intimately limns a Southern slave’s complicated relationship with her master. . . . Compelling and unsentimental.”

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“Absolutely phenomenal. . . . Wench is an excellent novel that will appeal to many readers. Debut author Dolen Perkins-Valdez has crafted a historical narrative that shouldn’t be missed.”

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“Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s debut novel, Wench, is outstanding: well crafted, imaginative, spellbinding, and above all satisfying.”

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“Drawing on research about the resort that eventually became the first black college, Wilberforce University, the novel explores the complexities of relationships in slavery and the abiding comfort of women’s friendships.”

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“Impressive. . . . There are countless stories to be told and to be read regarding the lingering emotional impact of slavery; and here, Perkins-Valdez has imagined a memorable one, her characters are framed within a well-crafted and expressive nar

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez is startling and original fiction that raises provocative questions of power and freedom, love and dependence. An enchanting and unforgettable novel based on little-known fact, Wench combines the narrative allure of Cane River by Lalita Tademy and the moral complexities of Edward P. Jones’s The Known World as it tells the story of four black enslaved women in the years preceding the Civil War. A stunning debut novel, Wench marks author Perkins-Valdez—previously a finalist for the 2009 Robert Olen Butler Short Fiction Prize—as a writer destined for greatness.


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