Blog Tour and Review: Wench by: Dolen Perkins-Valdez

About the Author
Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s fiction and essays The Kenyon Review, African American Review, PMS:  PoemMemoirStory, North Carolina Literary Review, Richard Wright Newsletter, and SLI:  Studies in Literary Imagination.  She is a 2009 finalist for the Robert Olen Butler Fiction Award.  A graduate of Harvard and a former University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow, Dolen splits her time between Seattle and Washington, DC.  She is a faculty member of the University of Puget Sound where she teaches Creative Writing.  Wench is her first book of fiction.  You can visit Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s website at, her blog at or connect with her on Twitter at

An ambitious and startling debut novel that follows the lives of four women at a resort popular among slaveholders who bring their enslaved mistresses
wench \'wench\ n. from Middle English "wenchel," 1 a: a girl, maid, young woman; a female child.
Tawawa House in many respects is like any other American resort before the Civil War. Situated in Ohio, this idyllic retreat is particularly nice in the summer when the Southern humidity is too much to bear. The main building, with its luxurious finishes, is loftier than the white cottages that flank it, but then again, the smaller structures are better positioned to catch any breeze that may come off the pond. And they provide more privacy, which best suits the needs of the Southern white men who vacation there every summer with their black, enslaved mistresses. It's their open secret.

Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet are regulars at Tawawa House. They have become friends over the years as they reunite and share developments in their own lives and on their respective plantations. They don't bother too much with questions of freedom, though the resort is situated in free territory–but when truth-telling Mawu comes to the resort and starts talking of running away, things change.

To run is to leave behind everything these women value most–friends and families still down South–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 are bearing witness to the end of an era.

An engaging, page-turning, and wholly original novel, Wench explores, with an unflinching eye, the moral complexities of slavery.

This book makes you appreciate all the people who have come before you. Those who have had to live horrible, evil-filled lives, so that their children and their children's children don't have to. This book is so good and so sad all at the same time. It is an intricate and detailed look at slavery and mistreatment of women, and the sad part is that this story is very real, not just something found in fiction, but something that could and did exist for a very long time. The characters are achingly real, you feel yourself bonding with them, and joining them in their pain. This is a must read for anyone and everyone...all about learning from the as to not repeat it.

Recieved from Pump Up Your Book Tours
I give this book 4/5 stars. ★ ★ ★ ★

Monica S.

Copyright The Bibliophilic Book Blog 2009-2010


  1. This book sounds like an interesting and compelling read - it's definitely going straight onto my TBR list. Thanks for the review!

  2. Thank you for participating in The Saturday Network!
    And nice review. This book definitely sounds like it could go in a lot of places, and I'm glad you found the characters real and understandable. :)


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