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The Wedding Giftby Marlen Suyapa Bodden
Synopses & Reviews
When Cornelius Allen gives his daughter Clarissas hand in marriage, he presents her with a wedding gift: the young slave she grew up with, Sarah. Sarah is also Allens daughter and Clarissas sister, a product of his longtime relationship with his house slave, Emmeline. When Clarissas husband suspects that their newborn son is illegitimate, Clarissa and Sarah are sent back to her parents, Cornelius and Theodora, in shame, setting in motion a series of events that will destroy this once powerful family.
Told through alternating viewpoints of Sarah and Theodora Allen, Cornelius wife, The Wedding Gift is a stunning novel that shows where the complicated and compelling bonds and relationships between women explored in novels like The Help and The Secret Life of Bees began. Marlen Suyapa Bodden's novel is an intimate portrait of slavery and the 19th century South that shows where this particular American story and dynamic all started and will leave listeners breathless.
Includes a reading group guide read by the author
"In this stunning debut, Marlen Suyapa Bodden effortlessly transports the reader to 1852 Alabama, where slavery and racism may rule the day, but everything isn't as black and white as it may seem. Sixteen-year-old Sarah Campbell is a housemaid to her half-sister Clarissa. Both daughters of plantation owner Mr. Allen, they secretly reject the roles they are expected to play. Sarah yearns for the day when she can escape slavery, while Clarissa is disinterested in her father's wishes for her to marry young and become mistress of her own plantation. But then Clarissa unexpectedly becomes pregnant before she's wed — changing the trajectory of both girls' lives. Bodden weaves a page-turning tangled web of misogyny, greed, scandal and violence in this powerful story about races colliding against the backdrop of America's darkest era. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In 1852, when prestigious Alabama plantation owner Cornelius Allen gives his daughter Clarissa's hand in marriage, she takes with her a gift: Sarah—her slave and her half-sister. Raised by an educated mother, Clarissa is not the proper Southern belle she appears to be, with ambitions of loving whom she chooses. Sarah equally hides behind the façade of being a docile house slave as she plots to escape. Both women bring these tumultuous secrets and desires with them to their new home, igniting events that spiral into a tale beyond what you ever imagined possible. Told through the alternating viewpoints of Sarah and Theodora Allen, Cornelius' wife, Marlen Suyapa Bodden's The Wedding Gift is an intimate portrait of slavery and the 19th Century South that will leave readers breathless.
About the Author
MARLEN SUYAPA BODDEN is a lawyer at The Legal Aid Society in New York City, the nations oldest and largest law firm for the poor. She drew on her knowledge of modern and historical slavery, human trafficking, and human rights abuses to write The Wedding Gift, her first novel. Marlen is a graduate of New York University School of Law and Tufts University. In 2012, the University of Rhode Island awarded Marlen an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
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