Dolen Perkins-Valdez debut novel Wench takes a different route then most narratives surrounding slavery. While it is like the traditional slave tale, Wench does deal with the harden facts of slavery, beatings, escape, oppression, fear, uncertain. But Perkins-Valdez takes Wench a step further and dives into the relationship and experience of slave women (wenches) and their masters.
The main character, Lizzie, this is primarily her story and how her interactions with the three women change her own views on her enslavement and the relationship she has with her master, Drayle. When the story first started I did not like Lizzie, her actions infuriated me and made her unlikable. I was ready to write her off and I even state the book down for week, not sure if I could continue. But her character did learn for the actions and I had hope for her. She seemed to gain strength and grow. I was rooting for her. Then she disappointed me once again.
I think my main problem with Lizzie was that she was to malleable. She seemed so ready to believe anything and everything that Drayle had to tell her. No matter what the circumstance. Her character seemed to want to believe the best in him. Lizzie continued to accept all his offers of appeasement even when they directly conflicted her desire for freedom for herself and her children.
The other characters were minor. They were more consistent and as a reader I knew what to expect from them.
Wench was original in the fact that Perkins-Valdez set most of the at Tawawan House. Which is a hotel where Southern men would take their slave women for the summer without their wives. I liked this, it offered a different view into historical events. Something that I had never considered before: masters taking their favorite female slaves on vacation with them.
One of the most problematic issues I had with this novel was that I got the feeling that was stuff left out. Like the author was constrained to a limit amount of space and had to get her story out in that space. There were several scenes that I had to read a couple of times to understand what was going on. The details weren't there and it made it hard to follow. This would have been a better novel if the details would have been flushed out more.