The Wedding Gift is a character-driven, familial novel of the pre-civil war antebellum era of the deep southern states of America.

Plot: Two girls are born of the same father – a wealthy plantation owner. Clarissa is heiress to the family fortune; Sarah is a mulatto slave. The actual ‘gift’ is Sarah, given to Clarissa as a wedding present. Clarissa is the typical southern belle, a spoiled, narcissistic, and bless-your-heart brat. Sarah is hell-bent on the freedom of herself and her family. Years pass and the trials of slavery and the dominating character of southern men of the era are two major elements that traverse the pages. Sarah’s mother is not only in bondage for the financial benefit of farm labor and cooking but, for the sexual appetite of her master. Clarissa and her mother are also subject to the whims of the plantation owner. Breeders of heirs and images of propriety.

Liked. The Wedding Gift is historical fiction, always interesting. No explicit sex, no objectional language. The epilog is a surprise.

Not so hot. If you’re familiar with the history of slavery in the southern United States prior to the American Civil War, you’ll find this book to be extraordinarily tame. The violent and abusive treatment of blacks is only hinted at, not defined. Ergo, don’t bother with The Wedding Gift if you’re looking for an in-depth history of events. You’ll need to read non-fiction to find out  – some Frederick Douglass – or Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Ann Jacobs.

Written by Marlen Suyapa Bodden, narrated by Jenna Lamia and January LaVoy, about 10.5 hours of length unabridged audiobook format, and released in September of 2013 by Macmillan Audio.

An entertaining read, recommended.


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