Monday, February 7, 2011

The Ladies Book Club: February 2011

Book Read:

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Ladies in Attendance:
4 regulars plus 1 new member!

Treats shared:
This time we got it right! A perfect blend of appetizers and desserts. Crusty bread with a garlic spread, brie cheese and crackers, chocolate pastries, cream filled pastry, walnuts, peanu butter cups, cheese crackers, peanut butter chocolate cookies, and wine. Cupcake Pinot Noir and Broke Ass Table Wine to be exact! We like to eat!

To Read or Not to Read:
4 ladies read it.
1 read 1/4 of it.

My Reaction:
Here is a brief synopsis of this book from the publisher's website.

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 is an idyllic retreat for Southern white men who vacation there every sum

mer with their enslaved black mistresses. It’s their open secret. Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet are regulars at the resort, building strong friendships over the years. But when Mawu, as fearless as she is assured, comes along and starts talking of running away, things change. To run is to leave everything behind, 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 bear witness to the end of an era.

I really enjoyed this novel. I remember being really excited about it but also a bit unsure. I rarely read novels about slavery and I didn't know if I would enjoy this based on my lack of knowledge or experience in reading about this subject. I am very glad I signed on to do this tour for TLC Book Tours.
Though it started out a bit slow, I really grew to love the characters. Their stories were so raw and vivid and expertly described, I held my breath at times. This novel, though only 290 pages, managed to flesh out the many individuals that existed at that time, not just the slave women. You were able to read about the slave owner's wife, the children of slaves and slave owners, the compassionate white man, the evil white slave owner, and others that lived on the fringe.

What I found to bethe most powerful was how masterfully the author was able to say so much with such few words. This is something that all of us agreed on, how she could evoke such emotion out of powerful one-liners.

I felt the author gave such a thoughtful voice to such a traumatic time in history. She managed to get the point across; the pain, the loss, the solitude, without being too graphic.

The Ladies' Reaction:
Everyone agreed that this was a solid choice for our book club. It generated a fantastic conversation and discussion. We all agreed on the power of the author's writing. We all seem to feel strongly for each character, in different ways. We struggled with how we felt about Drayle's character, the most. Was he indeed good? or a better white man than most? Did he feel love for Lizzie, his slave? Or was it always about control?
We all wanted to know what happened with these characters, especially Reenie and Lizzie, but were not actually wanting a "sequel" written. I think we all just genuinely grew to care for these women and wanted them to find some peace and freedom, which in the eyes of the "law" they eventually did.
The differences in the slave/slave owner relationships drew the most discussion. Lizzie and Drayle,by far, had it pretty good. She lived in the main house, she had children that were cared for initially, she wasn't really beaten, she was the only slave mistress. Compared to Mawu who had an absolute tyrant for a master and was beaten and raped repeatedly, in public, even, we were so floored at the differences.
At one point we even agreed that not much has changed today. If you do this for me, then I'll do that in return. It's the give and take, the constant power struggle between man and woman and humans, in general.

I am so happy the ladies enjoyed this one as much as I did. They all came to the table ready to talk and it's such a pleasure to be a part of that. Another recommended read was discussed called The Plantation Mistress which was read by one of the ladies and depicted women of the south during the same time period.

Good Book Club Pick?
Most definitely. Highly recommended. We all agreed that this was an excellent choice! We found out during that the author was available for online chatting with book clubs, if you signed up by a certain date. We certainly had enough to chat about. Oh well, we will research next time if any other author would be willing to do that.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for giving me the chance to be a part of this tour. Please check out the rest of the stops along the way. I'm curious to read what other's think about this one!

Connect with the Author:

Next Book Up:
March- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child


Misha said...

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez sounds like a fantastic book! I want to read it this year.

Carol said...

Wench is on my wishlist and knowing it was a hit with your reading group makes me want it even more.

I do enjoy your reading group postings

Tales of Whimsy said...

Oooooo Water for Elephants! I want to read it before your next months' post so I can chirp in :)

Cheryl said...

so excited you're finally going to read Water for Elephants! Will you go to the movie as a book club, too?

Gina said...

Sounds like you gals had a fabulous time. How could you not? Good friends, good food and what sounds like a good read. Wonderful. Thanks for sharing a peek inside the club! Happy reading... ^_^

Rachel said...

Glad to see that your choice worked out! Sounds very interesting.

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

This one has been on my wishlist for a while. I can't wait to read it!

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

Thanks everyone for stopping by and experiencing a little part of my book club!

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

This sounds like an excellent choice for your book club. I'm definitely considering pitching this to my own club as I think they'd really get into it.

Thanks for being on this book tour!

Katy said...

I loved Wench. It was one of my favorite reads last year.