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Property: A Novelby Valerie Martin
Winner of the 2003 Orange Prize for Fiction
Synopses & ReviewsPlease note that used books may not include additional media (study guides, CDs, DVDs, solutions manuals, etc.) as described in the publisher comments.
Valerie Martin's Property delivers an eerily mesmerizing inquiry into slavery's venomous effects on the owner and the owned. The year is 1828, the setting a Louisiana sugar plantation where Manon Gaudet, pretty, bitterly intelligent, and monstrously self-absorbed, seethes under the dominion of her boorish husband. In particular his relationship with her slave Sarah, who is both his victim and his mistress.
Exploring the permutations of Manon's own obsession with Sarah against the backdrop of an impending slave rebellion, Property unfolds with the speed and menace of heat lightning, casting a startling light from the past upon the assumptions we still make about the powerful and powerless.
"As chilling and satisfying as anything she has written....A fierce and uncompromising book, a bracing and cathartic work of art." Chicago Tribune
"This fresh, unsentimental look at what slaveowning does to (and for) one's interior life must be a first. And the writing — so prised and clean-limbed — is a marvel." Toni Morrison
"A fascinating little gem of darkness." San Francisco Chronicle
"[A] powerful story....Martin conveys this sickening blend of moral delusion and self-serving repugnance in feverish prose that perfectly reflects Manon's desperation....Martin adds resonance to a compelling story." Publishers Weekly
"A nimble, enlightening and horrific story about the morally corrosive effects of slavery and one childish soul, locked in a cycle of permanent bitterness." Kirkus Reviews
"The book is taut and atmospheric and effectively chronicles an obsessive fixation." Booklist
"Some of the scenes in the novel are so astonishing they would not work if Martin did not have such a fine and sure touch." The Washington Post
"Tightly constructed [and] suspenseful....Manon is a vividly presented voice, precociously cynical, mordantly amusing, despairing....A subtly cadenced novel of racial and sexual transgressions." The New York Review of Books
"Fraught with tension, desperation, and rage, all masterfully sustained....An unflinching depiction of our nation's most shameful historical chapter." Los Angeles Times
"This is not Margaret Mitchell's Scarlett O'Hara, and this Louisiana plantation is not Tara, but for the reader willing to take a thought-provoking look at this period in American history, Property is ultimately rewarding." Dallas Morning News
"I finished this extremely short book feeling a thirst to know more from a book that was less a novel than an extended outline. Martin did not back up this historical novel with enough history or enough detail..." Kansas City Star
"[A] fierce and fiercely felt novel....When it tries too hard to deliver verifiable facts, Property can seem pedantic; when it relies instead on the grotesqueries of Manon's life, it makes its point with splendid simplicity." Boston Globe
Valerie Martins Property delivers an eerily mesmerizing inquiry into slaverys venomous effects on the owner and the owned. The year is 1828, the setting a Louisiana sugar plantation where Manon Gaudet, pretty, bitterly intelligent, and monstrously self-absorbed, seethes under the dominion of her boorish husband. In particular his relationship with her slave Sarah, who is both his victim and his mistress.
Exploring the permutations of Manons own obsession with Sarah against the backdrop of an impending slave rebellion, Property unfolds with the speed and menace of heat lightning, casting a startling light from the past upon the assumptions we still make about the powerful and powerful.
About the Author
Valerie Martin is the author of two collections of short fiction and six novels, including Italian Fever, The Great Divorce, and Mary Reilly. Her most recent book is a nonfiction work on St. Francis of Assisi: Salvation: Scenes from the Life of St. Francis. She resides in upstate New York.
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