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An ambitious and startling debut novel that follows the lives of four women at a resort popular among slaveholders who bring their enslaved mistresses

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

Tawawa House in many respects is like any other American resort before the Civil War. Situated in Ohio, this idyllic retreat is particularly nice in the summer when the Southern humidity is too much to bear. The main building, with its luxurious finishes, is loftier than the white cottages that flank it, but then again, the smaller structures are better positioned to catch any breeze that may come off the pond. And they provide more privacy, which best suits the needs of the Southern white men who vacation there every summer with their black, enslaved mistresses. It's their open secret.

Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet are regulars at Tawawa House. They have become friends over the years as they reunite and share developments in their own lives and on their respective plantations. They don't bother too much with questions of freedom, though the resort is situated in free territory–but when truth-telling Mawu comes to the resort and starts talking of running away, things change.

To run is to leave behind everything these women value most–friends and families still down South–and for some it also means escaping from the emotional and psychological bonds that bind 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 are inseparable and that love exists even in the most inhuman, brutal of circumstances–all while they are bearing witness to the end of an era.

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

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1 person found this helpful
The other face of love.
January 11th, 2015
This novel is a gift. From the very first page to the very last word, I was emotionally tied to the amazing women portrayed in this historical yet fictional story. I got a glimpse a the other and stranger face of love.
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1 review
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The wench
October 29th, 2014
Similar to "The Help"
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1 review
1 person found this helpful
October 11th, 2014
The story was so touching and I could identify with the women, being a mother myself. Ms Perkins-Valdez crafted a tale that will remain in my mind for a long time to come.
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1 review
1 person found this helpful
Highly recommend
January 10th, 2013
So interesting and engaging. I really learned a lot by reading this book about the nuances of slavery and the experience of women.
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1 review

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