First of all, I love this title because it’s simple and enticing. If you can successfully title your book with one word, we can be friends.
I found this book because I was searching for novels to add to a syllabus I’ve been assigned to write for African American Literature. I really don’t know a lot about African American literature, and most of our assignments have been autobiographies so far. I really wanted to dig into the fiction and find some new stuff. I’m looking at older novels (1800s) and newer (this one is 2010). Out of all the books I found while doing some very academic googling, this one stood out because it was historical fiction about slavery. I HAD to read this modern perspective about slavery; luckily, the super awesome place that I work (the campus library) had it, so I could read it immediately.
Wench is the story of four slave women who are brought to a place called Tawawa house with their slave owners. The slave women are the mistresses of said slave owners, and each of the women shows a different aspect of these types of relationships. The book mostly focuses on Lizzie, who believes she loves Drayle. The story focuses largely on how the women feel about their position in the world, the struggles they go through, and the pressures they feel to be good slaves.
The story is painful to read in some places because it can be both heartbreaking and terrifying. There are some disturbingly violent, mostly sexual, scenes, but that’s what happened. I don’t think Perkins-Valdez shies away from the brutality of slavery, but she also doesn’t overwhelm the reader with violence. The story is blended very well, and I stayed captivated throughout. It ends in a very vague way, but I wasn’t upset about it because it was so well written.
It was emotional. It was interesting. I give it 4 out of 5, and I would read it again.