#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge – Day 5

Bookish Stuff / Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Day 5 – A historical fiction:

Historical fiction is a genre I usually enjoy reading so I thought it would be easy to choose something from my shelves.  Well it really took time.  In the end, I decided on Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez.  This controversial novel definitely got people talking.  I remember reading some rich blog posts about it and those were what convinced me to read it.

Perkins-Vladez has painted a story that focuses quite closely on slavery in a way that hasn’t been explored IMG_1345in literary fiction before. This is mainly because of the taboo nature of the novel. She was inspired to write this book after reading the biography of W.E.B. Dubois where he mentioned slave masters taking their slave mistresses to a resort in Ohio. So, Tawawa House really existed. Although she could never find any documented specific stories about this place, she began to imagine what it would be like to be one of those slave mistresses. It’s a known fact that these unusual arrangements were existent and widespread among slave owners, but the resort adds a new facet, which allowed her to explore and focus on the slave mistresses.

“Six slaves sat in a triangle, three women, three men, the men half nestled in the sticky heat of thighs, straining their heads away from the pain of the tightly woven ropes. The six chatted softly among themselves, about the Ohio weather, about how they didn’t mind it because they all felt they were better suited to this climate.  They were guarded in their speech, as if the long stretch between them and the resort property were just a Juba dance away.” (opening paragraph of Wench, p. 3)

2 Replies to “#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge – Day 5”

  1. Now I have been on the fence about this book for a while. I too love historical fiction. But when I listen to your description, it sounds like it might be mostly the author’s imagination rather than any actual accounts from slave mistresses. So my struggle is whether I invest the time and read a mostly fictional account or read something with more facts. Help! Did you like it? Do you recommend it?

    1. Well I didn’t like the end, but I think it’s worth reading. The author found some records of this activity but not diaries or anything with accounts. However I feel that she has constructed a story which is plausible. IT’s a sad one, but does make for excellent literary discussion.

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