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Book Review: The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden

When prestigious 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 a proper southern belle she appears to be with ambitions of loving who she chooses and 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 and it will leave you enraptured until the very end.

Told through alternating viewpoints of Sarah and Theodora Allen, Cornelius’ wife, Marlen Suyapa Bodden's The Wedding Gift is an intimate portrait that will leave readers breathless.

The Wedding Gift
By: Marlen Suyapa Bodden
Series: Standalone
Publisher: St. Martin's Press 
Release Date: September 24th 2013

“The Wedding Gift” by Marlen Suyapa Bodden is a very interesting story that focuses on two women that come from completely different social classes. These women connect through a common bond of feeling powerless against controlling men. Sarah is a half-white slave and is the daughter of Emmeline, a house slave and the plantation owner. Theodora is the plantation owner’s wife. Theodora gets the brute of her husband’s mood swings and alcohol fits. Both women wish to escape their issues. Theodora starts to have little acts of rebellion like teaching Sarah to read and write. This is a great historical fiction.

“The Wedding Gift” had a great plot and concept but I’m not sure it was executed very well. The dialogue felt forced at times I think Bodden had amazing ideas but she tried to incorporate so many in such a short amount of space. Some of the ideas didn’t seem to be completely finished. Now I do think this was a very fascinating book. It focuses a lot on the slavery in Alabama. The different lives that the reader gets to learn about makes the story the most interesting part. You get to learn both sides of the story. The reader also gets to learn about the two different types of slavery. There are the actual slaves that work for the plantation and you get to learn about their lives and then there is the slavery of an unhappy marriage. Theodora became the property of her husband when they married and instead of treating her life a wife he treats her like a thing. I refer to Theodora being his property because that is how it was looked at back during the time period time of this novel. The characters were definitely interesting and I wanted to get to know them better. I would have to say that the characters were definitely the best part of “The Wedding Gift.” I definitely think “The Wedding Gift” is a good historical novel to read.

I give "The Wedding Gift" three out of five bookshelves.


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