The other day I wrote about how excited I was to be getting this book in the mail. I’d heard so much about it, but could no longer find the hardcover, so I pre-ordered the paperback and waited for the release.
Now it’s here. I’m reading WENCH. And though I don’t want to say I’m disappointed — well, I’m a bit disappointed.
Not completely, not so much that I’m not going to finish it. The basis of the story is intriguing enough to keep me hooked, as it’s based on a part of our American slavery history I know zero about: in the years before the Civil War, some Southern plantation owners took their slave mistresses to the Free North. On vacation. How’s that for crazy? I had no idea.
The trouble I’m having is with the writing, which is not bad, but it’s not exactly good either. Take this sentence: “Lizzie walked willingly into the trap of his arms.” I want to scream: Of course it’s a trap!!! He’s her owner!!! Duh! This is the kind of thing that makes me crazy. I stumble over a sentence like this and I stop being engaged by the story and start thinking about editing — how many times was this book edited, by the writer, her beta readers, her EDITOR? — and I wonder why in the hell this sentence is here. The next thing I know it’s 3 pages later and I have no idea what I’ve read because now, instead of worrying about Lizzie and Reenie and Sweet, I’m bracing myself for the next “duh” moment.
Last night I closed the book and noted a blurb from USA Today on the front cover: “Readers entranced by THE HELP will be equally riveted by WENCH.” I disagree. These 2 books are not remotely the same, not in story, storytelling, structure, or voice. I have no idea what USA Today means in making this comparison, so I guess you could say I’m disappointed in them, too.