While the premise of Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez was interesting, the execution was poor. The story centers on Lizzie who is a slave and the mistress of her master as well as the mother of his only two children. For three summers Drayle takes Lizzie to Tawawa House, a resort in Ohio. The existence of such a resort where southern slave owners took their slave mistresses away each summer is historically accurate, though the women in the story are not based on real women. I think I might have been more invested in the story if the women had been historically based. My disappointment with the book can be related to two elements.
1. There were four women at the resort each year, Lizzie, Mawu, Sweet, and Reenie, yet the novel only details the life of Lizzie. The fictional device of alternating narrators by chapter is beginning to bore me, but an omniscient narrator, who could have brought the reader into the minds of all four women, would have been more effective. The expereinces of the women were so different despite the commonality of being slave mistresses, that an exploration of each woman would have emphasized the individuality of their lives beyond the label "slave mistress."
2. I would have liked a more thorough exploration of the difficult position of the plantation wives. While a look at the psyche of the men would be interesting, that is really an entirely different book. As the title indicates, this is the story of women and should therefore have delved into the experiences of all the women affected by this societal hypocrisy.
While reading the book and afterwards I read many reviews on-line. Generally readers liked it more than I did. I also found the other members of my book club appreciated it more than I did. I just wanted a different book and wanted this one to fit what I wanted to read.