Synopses & Reviews
"A first-rate choice for fans of intelligent historical romances."—Library Journal
, starred review Amid the mayhem of the Civil War, Iris Dunleavy is put on trial by her husband, convicted of madness, and sent to Sanibel Asylum to be restored to a compliant Virginia plantation wife. But her husband is the true criminal; she is no lunatic, only guilty of disagreeing on notions of cruelty and property. On this remote Florida island, Iris meets a wonderful collection of inmates in various states of sanity, including Ambrose Weller, a Confederate soldier haunted by war, whose dark eyes beckon to her. Can love in such a place be real? Can they escape, and will the war have left any way—any place—for them to make a life together?
"An absorbing story that explores both the rewards and perils of love, pride, and sanity."—Publishers Weekly "With Blue Asylum, Hepinstall presents the reader with the rare and delicious quandary of whether to race through and find out what happens to her characters or to linger over her vivid, beautifully crafted sentences. For me, the only resolution was to read it twice." —Hillary Jordan, author of Mudbound and When She Woke "A gripping story of love and madness in the midst of the Civil War—I couldnt put it down!"—Kathleen Grissom, author of The Kitchen House
wench \'wench\ n. from Middle English “wenchel,”1 a: a girl, maid, young woman; a female child.
Situated in Ohio, a free territory before the Civil War, Tawawa House isan idyllic retreat for Southern white men who vacation there every summerwith their enslaved black mistresses. Its their open secret. Lizzie,Reenie, and Sweet are regulars at the resort, building strong friendships over theyears. But when Mawu, as fearless as she is assured, comes along and starts talkingof running away, things change. To run is to leave everything behind, and forsome it also means escaping from the emotional and psychological bonds thatbind 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 areinseparable and that love exists even in the most inhuman, brutal of circumstances—all while they bear witness to the end of an era.
An engaging, page-turning, and wholly original novel, Wench explores, withan unflinching eye, the moral complexities of slavery.
Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez is startling and original fiction that raises provocative questions of power and freedom, love and dependence. An enchanting and unforgettable novel based on little-known fact, Wench combines the narrative allure of Cane River by Lalita Tademy and the moral complexities of Edward P. Joness The Known World as it tells the story of four black enslaved women in the years preceding the Civil War. A stunning debut novel, Wench marks author Perkins-Valdez—previously a finalist for the 2009 Robert Olen Butler Short Fiction Prize—as a writer destined for greatness.
"Excellent pacing and strong character development . . . animate not only the inmates at the Sanibel Asylum but the characters from the preasylum lives of Iris and Ambrose. A first-rate choice for fans of intelligent historical romances." —Library Journal, starred review
Love and war converge in this lush, epic story of a young womans coming of age during and after Frances Second Empire (1860-1871), an era that was absinthe-soaked, fueled by railway money and prostitution, and transformed by cataclysmic social upheaval.
A New York Times Book Review
A young woman follows the man she loves to Paris and finds, amid the wildness of Second Empire luxury and treachery, many loves to win and lose. She must also find a way to a life she can truly call her own.
"An arresting tale of what it meant to survive as a woman . . . [and] an unflinching portrait of love and loss against a landscape of Parisian decadence.”—Deborah Harkness
“Epic times make for epic books . . . Wonderful, suspenseful reading.”—Karen Joy Fowler
"Eugénie R. is every girl in a daguerreotype looking over her shoulder, every woman with a baby hurrying away from you down a gas-lit street, and then too, she is the first of her kind, a woman who stands at her own barricades and fights a France determined to render her silent. I lost myself whole-heartedly in her story, and would have followed her down any narrow alley, into any candlelit room, just to know what happened, to stay back there and to delay coming home."—Sarah Blake
“Fiction in the grand tradition of Dickens and Tolstoy.”—Howard Frank Mosher
"Lord! How beautifully this is written. How rare that is to discover."—Dorothy Allison
About the Author
Dolen Perkins-Valdez is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Wench. Her fiction has appeared in the Kenyon Review, StoryQuarterly, StorySouth, and elsewhere. In 2011 she was a finalist for two NAACP Image Awards and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for fiction. She was also awarded the First Novelist Award by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. She teaches in the Stonecoast MFA program in Maine. A graduate of Harvard and a former University of California President's Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA, Dolen Perkins-Valdez lives in Washington, D.C., with her family.