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.

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