Lizzie, Reenie, Sweet, and Mawu are four slave women who meet when their owners vacation at the same resort in Ohio. Each of these women have a story and each of these women are mistresses to their master… in some cases willingly. While at this resort they see the first time free blacks and Mawu leads the group as she talks about escape and freedom.
Reenie and Sweet are on board with the dreams of running to their freedom but Lizzie feels she really loves her master Drayle, and she believes he loves her as well… after all they do have two children together.
In the end, as they spend their third and final summer together in Ohio, the women have a decision to make….
but will it be one of freedom?
This was a fascinating read. Initially when my book club chose this for our March read I was nervous that it may be like The Help. I loved The Help, but do not like it when books (or movies for that fact) build off what another pulls off successfully.
I did not have to worry – Wench is a book all in its own. I was able to learn much through the sto ri es of t he women, and enjoyed each of their takes on their lives and their worth – from mild-mannered Lizzie who felt she was the rightful wife of her master if not legally by heart then, to wild Mawu whose master is cruel and violent and Mawu feels she would rather die trying to escape than continue living in this manner.
I really felt uneducated going into this read as I knew that in some cases the masters of these black women would force them into sex … but I guess I did not realize it was so common. The complexity of the women’s relationships with their masters as well as in their friendships with each other made for a fascinating read. In the end I came to appreciate a lot more what these women went through in a time that no one stood up for them…. this book is a read of heartbreak and in a way – triumph as well.
Fabulous fabulous fabulous read.
The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading map has been updated to include Wench
I received this book for review
Our book club had a wonderful discussion about this book. We discussed in great detail the different lives each of the four main women had with their masters and with their friendship as well. The discussion was quite detailed and I enjoyed how deep we dived into the subject of slavery and especially into the relationship of Drayle and Lizzie.
I love it when our group does the little extras and Angie (By Book Or By Crook) had taken the time to find and print out for us the use of the popular songs of slaves. Follow The Drinking Gourd – the video above, is one of those songs. It was interesting to hear the words, that were not written down as the songs contained codes of where they would meet when they escaped – and were used by Harriet Tubman when she helped slaves escape
The resort, Tawawa House, mentioned in the book, does exist and on Dolen Perkins-Valdez’ website you can read about the history of this resort. As the masters who took their slaves to the resorts and left their wives at home, this was truly a case of what happens in Tawawa House – stays in Tawawa House.
And of course, when the Bookies meet – we do like to go all foodie on the theme and the girls out did themselves with the delightful treats we had for this review. Grits, corn bread, stuffed potatoes, a stew, rice and beans with Louisiana hot sauce, sour dough bread, strawberry shortcake, chocolate cake, cinnamon applesauce, a Feta and Craisin spinach salad with poppy seed dressing…. Oh man….