Dolen Perkins-Valdez, author of Wench, on tour January/February 2011

Posted By on November 11, 2010

About Wench

• Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Amistad (January 25, 2011)

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.

About Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s fiction and essays have appeared in Robert Olen Butler Prize Stories 2009, The Kenyon Review, PMS: PoemMemoirStory, North Carolina Literary Review, and the Richard Wright Newsletter. She is a former University of California postdoctoral fellow and graduate of Harvard. Dolen lives in the Washington, D.C. with her family.

Connect with Dolen:

  • On her website
  • On Twitter: @dolen

Dolen’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS

Tuesday, January 25th: Lit and Life

Wednesday, January 26th: Man of La Book

Thursday, January 27th: Take Me Away

Monday, January 31st: Jo-Jo Loves to Read!

Wednesday, February 2nd: Bibliophiliac

Friday, February 4th: Rundpinne

Tuesday, February 8th: red headed book child

Thursday, February 10th: Chefdruck Musings

Monday, February 14th: In the Next Room

Tuesday, February 15th: Raging Bibliomania

Wednesday, February 16th: Debbie’s Book Bag

Thursday, February 17th: Peeking Between the Pages


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