Tuesday, January 5, 2010

WENCH: REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

GIVEAWAY ENDED
WENCH

BY DOLEN PERKINS-VALDEZ

ABOUT THE BOOK:


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.

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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dolen Perkins-Valdez's fiction and essays have appeared in Robert Olen Butler Prize Stories 2009, The Kenyon Review, PMS: PoemMemoirStory, North Carolina Literary Review, and the Richard Wright Newsletter. She is a former University of California postdoctoral fellow and graduate of Harvard. Dolen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family.

REVIEW:

This is the kind of story you can curl up with and not want to put down until it is finished...and that is what I did! Dolen Perkins-Valdez takes her research about a resort prior to the Civil War that eventually became the first black college known as Wilberforce University, and sets her suspenseful, heart breaking, women's relationship story in this setting. During a dark period of our country's history, Tawawa House, in Ohio, was a resort where three female slaves who were their owners' mistresses would visit every summer. Here they could live together, slave master and mistress, and while it was still kept as a secret. the resort was really well known.

WENCH tells of Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet, who each year would visit Tawawa with their slave masters and they formed a lasting friendship that was something that kept them going until they met again the next year. They were happy at Tawawa, or at least as happy as they could imagine, until a fourth slave mistress, Mawu, comes along. She gives them the idea that there is a possibility of escape and freedom while they are at the resort...something they never dared to think of before. While the book deals with each character in depth and the lives they live away from as well as at the resort, it is the tragedy that takes place one day at Tawawa that makes things never quite the same from then on.

I found the relationships of the women with each other as well as with their slave owners so well written and intriguing that I want to picture this as a movie to watch over and over again. However, I am not sure the Perkins-Valdez's beautifully written novel could be made into a movie and still have the same impact that the book does. This is a winner and I hope to read more by this author in the future. I think it would make a fabulous choice for book clubs as it invites good discussion and analyzing.

GIVEAWAY

THANKS TO KYLE AND GOOD PEOPLE
AT HARPER COLLINS PUBLISHING,
I HAVE 3 COPIES OF THIS WONDERFUL
BOOK TO GIVE AWAY. HERE IS WHAT
YOU NEED TO DO TO WIN A COPY!


RULES:
--U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY
--NO P. O. BOXES
---INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS
IN CASE YOU WIN!
--ALL COMMENTS MUST BE SEPARATE TO
COUNT AS MORE THAN ONE!


HOW TO ENTER:

+1 ENTRY: COMMENT ON SOMETHING INTERESTING YOU FIND WHEN YOU CLICK HERE TO VISIT AND LOOK AROUND AUTHOR DOLEN PERKINS-VALDEZ'S WEBSITE.

+1 MORE ENTRY: TELL ME IF YOU FOLLOW MY BLOG AND IF SO, HOW OR WHERE

+1 MORE ENTRY: BLOG OR TWEET ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY AND LEAVE A LINK I CAN FOLLOW IN THE ENTRY

DEADLINE FOR ENTERING IS
6 PM, EST, JANUARY 19

GOOD LUCK

131 comments:

scottsgal said...

What a cool premise for a book =- sounds fascinating. The author is a Harvard graduate.
msboatgal at aol.com

scottsgal said...

Follow via google friend connect/reader
msboatgal at aol.com

Tea said...

I bet WENCH is a powerful novel. I would love, love to read and review it. Pretty please.

readwithteaatyahoodotcom

tawnda said...

the images of the resort are interesting

tawnda said...

google follower

Tea said...

I'm sorry. I'm afraid I gave my blog address not my email address.

teakettle58atyahoodotcom

tawnda said...

submitted to OLS (http://www.online-sweepstakes.com)

RAnn said...

Loved those old photos.

RAnn said...

I'm a follower ruthjoec at aoldotcom

RAnn said...

I blogged http://rannthisthat.blogspot.com/2009/01/giveaways.html

ruthjoec at aoldotcom

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

I liked seeing the pictures of the actual Tawawa House on the author's website.

Also, I'm a follower.

fitz12383(at)hotmail(dot)com

Sandra K321 said...

This sounds like an incredible book. According to the site it has gotten escellent reviews from Publisher's Weekly, among others.
seknobloch(at)gmail(dot)com

Sandra K321 said...

I follow your blog via Google, but I'm not sure how long I've been a follower.
seknobloch(at)gmail(dot)com

Jo-Jo said...

I love the pictures of the resort that she writes about. I would love to win this book!
joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

Jo-Jo said...

I'm also a follower.
joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

Mary said...

I found the images of the actual resort to be very interesting. I had never heard of it.

mamie316(at)sbcglobal(dot)net

Bethie said...

What an interesting story. I love the pictures of the actual resort on her web site.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

g.g. said...

Sounds like a good one. I found out she splits her work time between Washington state and Washington, D.C. which is quite a travel.

anjamie4 AT gmail dot COM

g.g. said...

I follow with Google Friend and by email

anjamie4 AT gmail dot COM

Margie said...

I'd really like to read this book.
I saw on the website that the book was mentioned in the Jan 2009 issue of Oprah!
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

I get your email updates and your feed through google.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Rowsbelle said...

I read about the book in Essence, follow Dolen on Twitter, & am super-stoked about the book's release.

Rowsbelle said...

Tweeted about your give-away on my feed, as well:
http://twitter.com/rowsbelle

Thanks 4 ur blog, BTW. You're passion for reading is inspiring.

monyadtatgmail.com & google follower

Rebecca O said...

The images of the resort are so awesome. I love seeing pictures from that time period.
The book sounds wonderful and right up my alley. Thanks for the chance. bekki1820cb at gmail

Rebecca O said...

I am a follower of the blog!
bekki1820cb at gmail

Candie L said...

She was born and raised in Memphis. Thank you

candieluster(at)gmail(dot)com

Candie L said...

I am following your blog. Thank you

candieluster(at)gmail(dot)com

rubynreba said...

I liked the old pictures.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

rubynreba said...

I follow on google friend
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

Kim said...

WANT it!!

My interesting fact? She teaches at the University of Puget Sound which is only about 45 minutes from where I live!!!

kimmery4(at)yahoo(dot)com

*smiles*
Kim

Kim said...

I follow in Google Friend Connection and in my Google Reader.

*smiles*
Kim

Kim said...

I am putting this giveaway in my sidebar.
*smiles*
Kim

Pricilla said...

WENCH has received excellent critical reviews from:

Publishers Weekly
Kirkus Reviews
Booklist

**plus a starred review from Library Journal!

Thanks. This sounds like a great read.
kaiminani at gmail dot com

Pricilla said...

I follow by google and I subscribe
thank you
kaiminani at gmail dot com

Rowsbelle said...

Commenting to apologize for the goofy spelling error in my last comment. LOL

Rita M said...

That the author splits her time between Washington DC & Seattle, Washington is amazing - two very different, but wonderful places.

Deborah Wellenstein said...

Ms. Perkins-Valdez is a Harvard graduate. Thank you for this giveaway!

Sue said...

I love that she gets to split her time between Seattle and Washington, D.C. Both are such fabulous cities.

Thanks for the giveaway.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

mverno said...

she graduated from harvard mverno@roadrunner.com

Pat said...

I loved being able to see images of the actual resort

CelticLady said...

I like the fact that there are a lot of write-ups in many different magazines. The book sounds interesting...I am a follower on Google Reader...also posted on sidebar of my blog here:

http://www.celticladysramblings.blogspot.com

momkelly2003@yahoo.com

Thank you!!

ellie said...

I like the images of the actual resort. I had never heard of it and now I am intrigued. I'd love to read this book.

eswright18 at gmail dot com

ellie said...

I follow via Google.

eswright18 at gmail dot com

ellie said...

Tweeted. http://twitter.com/eswright18/status/7422958220

eswright18 at gmail dot com

Debbie said...

She was born and raised in Memphis.
fourkidsrgreat(at)gmail(dot)com

Debbie said...

I'm a google follower.
fourkidsrgreat(at)gmail(dot)com

Martha Lawson said...

I found out that she was born in Memphis, TN! Also that she is a Harvard grad.. Cool.
This sounds like an interesting read. I'd love to win it..

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

Martha Lawson said...

google follower.

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

Martha Lawson said...

I subscribe by email

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

Rebecca Graham said...

I learned that she was born in Memphis. Being from TN myself, I like to read books by TN authors.

rhoneygtn at yahoo dot com.

Glenn said...

Found out that she's a Harvard graduate. Great to see a debut effort receiving this kind of attention. Thanks for the giveaway.

glenn_pessano AT yahoo DOT com

Juli said...

dadajuli@hotmail.com says: My exit from a small University in the Northwest coincided with Dolen's arrival. Too bad I have not got to know her. I intend to read her novel whether I win it this way or not. Then I intend to take it to Africa where I have a small used book store so that Dolen's fame can be spread far and wide.

kalynnick said...

I leaned that Dolen Perkins-Valdez's fiction and essays have appeared in StoryQuarterly.

I'm follow of your blog through Google.

kalynnick AT yahoo DOT com

Lacey said...

+1 for tweeting http://twitter.com/HtxAstrosFan/status/7453425014

Lacey said...

+1 for google follower

Lacey said...

the book will be featured in O,The Oprah Magazine, Feb. 2010.

Jaime said...

I found the images to be very interesting, I am a history lover and love to imagine myself back in time through images.
copperllama at yahoo dot com

Jaime said...

email subscriber
copperllama at yahoo dot com

justpeachy36 said...

justpeachy36@yahoo.com

Please enter me in the giveaway.

I found it interesting that the writer commutes between Washington D.C. and Seattle.

traveler said...

What a wonderful giveaway. This novel looks fascinating. She is a Harvard grad. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

I subscribe via e-mail. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Jo-Jo said...

I blogged about your contest here.
joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

bison61 said...

WENCH has received excellent critical reviews from:

Publishers Weekly
Kirkus Reviews
Booklist

tiramisu392 (at) yahoo.com

enyl said...

The resort was located in Xenia,Ohio a mere hour away. I'm thinking fieldtrip if the building remains.
enyl(at)inbox(dot)com

enyl said...

GFC follower.
enyl(at)inbox(dot)com

enyl said...

E-mail subscriber.
enyl(at)inbox(dot)com

Lori said...

I like the artwork on the website.

dlsmith44@msn.com

Benita said...

I find it interesting that the author graduated from Harvard University.


bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

Benita said...

I follow via GFC. and I subscribe via email.


bgcchs(at)yahoo(dot)com

Anonymous said...

Bingo,
If you say it's a good book, I believe you, you know what they say, you can live without men, but you can't live without your girlfriends. I love books about relationship with women, it's always amazing what women survive and get through as long as they have their friends.

SusieQ @ Hinson

Erica said...

I like the pictures of the resort.

egreca at hotmail dot com

Toni said...

I found the website for the book amazing. The whole "about the book" is so interesting. I have been hearing news of this book. I'd love to enter. I do follow.
tonigomez (at) surewest (dot) net

MiscMayzee said...

I love the design for the site, and the rotating pictures or sketches of the actual resort are a nice tough.

Toni said...

I found the website for the book amazing. The whole "about the book" is so interesting. I have been hearing news of this book. I'd love to enter. I do follow.
tonigomez (at) surewest (dot) net

MiscMayzee said...

I get email updates and I follow with google friend connect.

AshleyMayMott(at)aol(dot)com

ky2here said...

The author was born and raised in Memphis and graduated from Harvard.

ky2here said...

Here's my tweet: http://twitter.com/ky2here1/status/7599493560

Sarah said...

The author is a former University of California postdoctoral fellow.

Please enter me in this giveaway!

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah Emmerson

Sarah said...

I follow your blog via Google Friend Connect, email subscription, RSS, and Google Reader.

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah Emmerson

Sarah said...

I tweeted:

https://twitter.com/saemmerson/status/7622459733

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah Emmerson

Irene said...

On my TBR/wishlist!! An exciting debut historical fiction during a dismally painful period in our history... Besides the pictures of the resort (unbelievable), I was impressed with Dolen's biography, and the amount of research that she garnered for this book. Please count me in.

cyeate AT nycap DOT rr DOT com

Irene said...

I am a Google follower. Also by e-mail.

cyeates AT nycap DOT rr DOT com

Irene said...

Ooops, in my original post, I forgot the "s" in my e-mail adress.

Really excited about reading this book!!


cyeates AT nycap DOT rr DOT com

LittleEagle said...

I think that is rather interesting that a northerner originally opened the resort and that it closed down within 4 years due to the behavior of the southerners. sharonaquilino at hotmail dot ccom

debbiejackson said...

I enjoyed the review.....what a neat plot. jacksond@nhr3.net

debbiejackson said...

blog follower

debbiejackson said...

google friend connect

Wickdogg said...

She went to Harvard


wickdogg AT gmail DOT com

Wickdogg said...

I follow by email and also am on google friend connect

wickdogg AT gmail dot com

autie said...

The book received good reviews on Publisher's Weekly.

autielady[at]live.com

Renee G said...

I'm interested to hear what the author concludes about why these women stayed.
rsgrandinetti@yahoo(DOT)com

Laura said...

I went to the site and found that there really was a resort in a free state that masters took their slaves and think that it is amazing that the author was able to take that historical snippet and craft an entire novel.

bookloon@gmail.com

Randominities said...

I think this author has given the premise a lot of thought. It sounds like it will give real insight to what was going on at the time and why the women stayed.

I love historial novels, but mostly when the author puts a lot of effort in trying to understand why the historical people did what they did.

Thanks so much for the giveaway. I love hearing about interesting books like this.

Randominities said...

I blogged about this giveaway.

http://randominities-etsy.blogspot.com/

I'm not sure if in my last entry I clarified what I learned on the website. I was fascinated with the pictures and just believe this author has put a lot of thought in this story.

Thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

The author is a Harvard graduate and this is her first novel!

theyyyguy@yahoo.com

sherri419 said...

Sounds like a really great read! It is interesting to me that this is the author's first novel. It is a really deep subject to tackle for the first book. Thanks for the chance to read it!

sherri419 at gmail dot com

Miss Spoken said...

The author was born in Memphis, Tennessee
allyoureview at yahoo dot com

Miss Spoken said...

Following/Google Friend
allyoureview at yahoo dot com

mom2anutball said...

This looks really good. I learned that this is her first novel!
Thanks!
hawkgirl_16{at}hotmail{dot}com

mom2anutball said...

I follow your blog on Google Friend Connect as mom2anutball.


hawkgirl_16{at}hotmail{dot}com

CherylS22 said...

It's interesting that Perkins-Valdez teaches creative writing at the University of Puget Sound & splits her time between Washington, DC & Seattle, Washington.

Thanks ~ megalon22 at yahoo dot com

CherylS22 said...

I follow in GFC

susan1215 said...

This is her first novel

Jinxy and Me said...

I like the photos she has on the site.

Jinxy and Me said...

I'm following your blog in Google Friend Connect.

naynays1 said...

Loved those old photos. The autor was born in Memphis, Tenn.
mightynaynay(at)cs.com

dreamcleavers said...

dreamcleavers@yahoo.com
i love the old photos

dreamcleavers said...

dreamcleavers@yahoo.com
i follow you
dreamcleavers

sue14625 said...

follow on google reader always great reviews

joan ferris said...

It was ineresting to see the real Tawawa House.
joan ferris
jnferris@aol.com

kngmckellar said...

I found it intereting to find that the author was born and raised in Memphis, a graduate of Harvard, and a former University of California postdoctoral fellow, Perkins-Valdez teaches creative writing at the University of Puget Sound.

kngmckellar said...

follow your blog as kngmckellar

kngmckellar said...

http://kngmckellar-glorias.blogspot.com/2010/01/httpbookinwithbingoblogspotcom201001wen.html

blogged

Roseann K. said...

I love historical novels. This one looks fantastic. Thanks!

Valeen said...

I learned that the author splits her time between Washington D.C. and Seattle, Washington. How, what a commute!

sweepyhead at gmail dot com

lilyk said...

I thought it was interesting that she graduated from Harvard.

lilyk@mail2world.com

DEBIJOT said...

Her fiction has appeared in the North Carolina Lit Review.

DEBIJOT said...

follow you on google friends connect

thetruebookaddict said...

I found out that Ms. Perkins-Valdez was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. Caught my eye since I live in Nashville!

miller4plusmore(at)bellsouth(dot)net

thetruebookaddict said...

I follow via Google Friend Connect.

miller4plusmore(at)bellsouth(dot)net

barbara said...

Thanks for the great contest!
bahjeep@aol.com

demmi said...

I love the old pictures of the resort
con5459(at)gmail(dot)com

Maja said...

i loved the old photos

Maja said...

follower

twifanheather said...

I though it was interesting that the author was born and raised in Memphis, and this is her first novel! hsemonick at gmail dot com

twifanheather said...

Following via google friend connect!

twifanheather said...

I tweeted!
http://twitter.com/_HeatherAnne_/status/7959092957

Gianna said...

The author graduated from Harvard University.

Nancye said...

TWEET! TWEET!

http://twitter.com/NancyeDavis/status/7962486758

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Nancye said...

Follow thru Google Friend oonnect

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Diane52 said...

Found she split her time between the two Washingtons....that's a long comute!
Diane Baum
esldiane@gmail.com

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