Overall, what do you think of The Wedding Gift?
Join Date: 11/16/10
Join Date: 10/21/10
This is the first book I have been given that I was not thrilled with. The story itself was good, but to me the author was so afraid of making a misstep that the writing was stilted and formal. However, she has certainly done something I could not do, which is write a book, so kudos to her, based on that alone.
Join Date: 09/11/13
Join Date: 04/21/11
Join Date: 04/14/11
Join Date: 08/29/13
Join Date: 07/11/13
Join Date: 05/08/11
I was not enchanted with the book. I thought the attempt at dialect was erratic at best and the conversations were so stilted that I was very conscious of "reading a book" rather than being involved in the story. Many (all?) of the characters were caricatures or their personalities seemed to change from incident to incident. When I read the authors bio, I understood some of the problems and the emphasis on "lawyerly" things.
Join Date: 09/14/11
Join Date: 05/08/11
I have to say that as I was reading through the rest of the questions, I realized how little of the book (that I finished just 1 week ago!) I remembered. Usually I can recall quite a bit of the details of a book long after I have finished, but unfortunately this book was very forgetable.
Join Date: 03/24/12
Join Date: 01/16/12
I enjoyed it. I did feel that the dialogue didn't ring true for the slaves. They weren't educated and their use of the language wasn't properly depicted. I enjoyed the fact that the story was moved along by two different characters. I did feel that Sara's journey towards freedom bogged down as well as some of the legal issues concerning the estate at the end
Join Date: 08/11/13
Being born and raised in the South I have read and studied the history of the South and visited many plantations of this time period. This author did her research and got the everyday workings of a large plantation right! The relationship between the slaves and their masters was correctly depicted. Field slaves were very important to keep the plantations profitable and the house slaves were treated more like family. This time in America was ruled by cotton and rice plantations which was in high demand,the wealth of these plantations depended on the slave trade until the Civil War and slavery was abolished and still many slaves chose to remain on their plantations where most were treated well. I enjoyed this book.
Join Date: 07/17/12
Can't say I was in love with this book. Although it was obviously well researched (I did enjoy the way the author was able to tippy toe through the rather arcane legal parameters surrounding the manumission of slaves and status of nonfreed slaves at the time of the owner's death) the way it was written just smacked way too much of someone trying oh, so very hard to be uber politically correct. Yes, slavery was a horrible thing. Yes, there bad and good slave owners ... we all know this by now unless we have just crawled out from under a rock. Perhaps part of my problem with this book, is the timing of it. Lately I find myself becoming weary of being clubbed over the head with the notion that I, as a white southerner, whose family moved here from Yankeeland and never owned slaves, should still be eating my own soul out in atonement over this sad part of history in the year 2013. I kind of find myself wanting to say, move on already, there is a whole wide world of things to write about out there, find one ... which of course is so PC incorrect that I could find myself being boiled in oil to even "think" it. Perhaps with another subject I might enjoy this author more because she obviously has the art of researching down to an art.
Join Date: 03/13/12
I liked it a little better than I thought I was going to at first. It is not a 5 by any means and am unsure about a 4. I think there is a decent story in there, and I feel that the author does know her material. At times the dialogue "bugged" me. The dialect of the slaves seemed too stereotypical. There also were a few passages where the story lacked smooth transition with the passage of time.
Join Date: 04/15/11
I ended up liking it quite a bit. It covers much of the same material as other books about slavery and the South, but I particularly liked that Sarah's mother was aware that she was learning to read and yet allowed it. It made her come across as more human and therefore, humane, than some depictions of the wives have been.
Join Date: 07/30/13
I enjoyed this book more than I expected to, it wasn't the most well written and I agree about the dialect of the slaves. The characters were multi-faceted and in many cases evolved over time. Definitely made me think about the gray areas of life. Right and wrong wasn't so easy to determine in this situation
Join Date: 05/01/13
Join Date: 04/12/12
I liked the story of the book enough to keep me reading. I thought the female characters were intriguing. I thought the historical depictions were pretty accurate. I was a little surprised that Clarissa was with a black man. There wasn't anything to indicate that. It seemed contrived. I think the book would have been better if it developed Sarah's and Clarissa's relationship more. I found the writing stilted and unpolished. I do not regret reading it, but I do not think it was ready for publication yet.
Join Date: 05/07/13
As I stated in a response to the previous question regarding the growth of the two characters, Theodora and Sarah, I did not think I would like the book if it were going to be told entirely through Sarah's voice. It just seemed awkward to me. Somewhere around the 130th page, I became interested in what was going to happen next and soon I was turning page after page quickly. Sarah's escape plan was well-planned, perhaps a little too ingenious, but it worked. I felt Clarissa's and Isaac's conversation in which he agrees to escape seemed contrived unless he knew that he was the father of Clarissa's baby. Even then he would or should have been more anxious to escape Allen Estate. There were a lot of surprises in the end which were "surprising." When Sarah mentions in one of her chapters that Isaac was coming home around 4:00 A.M. while they were chaperoning Clarissa, I figured that he another female had entered his life, just not Clarissa. I did not expect Sarah to be a murderer. The author didn't lay much groundwork for that surprise. Cornelius's generosity in his will for his slaves did not surprise me because "not one had tried to run away since he took over the plantation." What is it about his character that makes him favor Emmeline and Sarah more than he does Clarissa and Theodora? Did he resent Theodora's beauty and intelligence? The book has some flaws, but I liked it.
Join Date: 07/29/13
I liked the concept of the book and how the characters interacted and it was a good story.......until the end. Very disappointed with how it ended and I think it ruined the whole story. It would have been enough for Sarah and her family to just be free and let it go at that. The writing seemed to go along at a good clip and the transitions didn't seem very smooth at times. If nothing else, it was a good learning experience.
Join Date: 10/16/10
Windsong, I liked your question, "What is it about his character that makes him favor Emmeline and Sarah more than he does Clarissa and Theodora?" I wondered if it was because Emmeline & Sarah showed him complete obedience, whereas Theodora and especially Clarissa didn't always. Defiance was the one thing that really seemed to send him over the edge.
Join Date: 05/29/11
This book was very easy to read and kept my interest throughout. The familial relationships, especially the mother daughter connections, were interesting and sometimes heart breaking. I liked that the story was told from the perspective of two women, one a slave, the other being the wife of a large plantation owner. It is historical fiction that is worth reading.
Join Date: 05/24/11
I enjoyed the book. I thought the storyline moved along and it kept me interested. I was surprised by the number of readers who thought the dialogue was stilted. I don't remember thinking that when I was reading it, but now I want to go back and reread some passages. The dialogue might have been why I wasn't as moved by some of the events as I thought I would be.
Join Date: 07/26/13
I have read many books about this unfortunate period in our history. The Wedding Gift did have a new slant on the old theme and a surprise ending. I did not find the dialogue stilted.
I particularly liked that the story was told from the prospective of both the slave daughter and wife.
Join Date: 07/04/11
This is the first book I received from Bookbrowse that I thoroughly enjoyed. I loved the story line and the two points of view. I would love to use this book for my book club. The story line did move along well. I agree some of the dialogue was not true to form. But this did not take too much away from the storyline and the events of the book. I would recommend this book, especially for a book talk.
Join Date: 04/21/11
I finished the book because I wanted to know how it ended. I believe the writer has more research skills than writing skills. She seemed to try too hard to get as much information into the characters' conversations as she could. The dialog was strained and forced. Often the speaker would be using "slave" talk and within the same paragraph would be using correct grammar. I think the book needed more editing to be worth all the hype and authors' recommendations.
Navy Mom--"I was a little surprised that Clarissa was with a black man." I missed that. When did it occur?
I'd give this book 2 stars. The plot was good--and interesting, in spite of being long and detailed.
Join Date: 10/16/10
Join Date: 04/21/11
Yes, and I do hope I was excused by NM for my not remembering!
Isaac may have even been less than half black as was Sarah. Both had light colored hair, light complexion, straight noses, light colored eyes, etc., etc. And that's why I believe Clarissa's baby looked white and not recognizably black. That his full-term size seemed to be the reason he was rejected by Cornelius.
Join Date: 08/23/11
I agree with the others that the writing was somewhat immature and unpolished but I am sure this author will improve with time. The story was so powerful that I was able to push through the less than stellar writing style to find out what would happen to these characters that became endearing. Yes, it is just another slave story but it has a great plot line and the female characters were quite well developed. I was surprised by the ending and think it was perfect!
Join Date: 02/16/12
I overlooked the sometimes clumsy prose because I was pulled in by the story. The twists and turns held me captivated so that I kept wanting to go back and finish the book. I surmise the author's goal was to suprise the reader, and in that she exceeded well. I think that the book needs some polishing.
Join Date: 05/29/11
I absolutely loved the descriptive writing in the prologue and first pages, and that pulled me right in. As I continued to read, the story was fascinating and it kept me hooked. I hope Marlen Suyapa Bodden continues to write, because she is certainly a gifted storyteller. Her ability to let the reader visualize the characters and setting will hopefully improve as well.
Join Date: 01/05/12
I really, really liked this book, even though I have read many book about slavery this one seemed to be a little more personal, probably because one of the narrators was Sarah, the half black sister. The slavery years were barbaric, it is unbelievable that humans can reach such a level of cruelty towards others therefore it was refreshing to read about Sarah and her appetite for learning when given the opportunity, her sharp thinking and planning and eventually her escape. In retrospect we see the amount of planning she put into her eventual escape, we also see her revenge in the surprise ending.
Join Date: 10/16/10
I'm always fascinated by the differing opinions people can have about the same book. So what do people look for? What makes a book "good" to you?
I've got to admit I quite liked The Wedding Gift. Granted, the writing wasn't the best, but it certainly had me hooked (I kept missing my bus stops!). I'm always impressed when a writer can make a topic that's been covered to death interesting. I often think, for example, "Who needs another WWII book? Haven't we already covered that?" ... and yet books keep coming out that are entertaining.
I guess "entertaining" would probably be my first criterion for what I'd consider a good book.
Join Date: 06/13/11
I liked the book and will recommend it to friends. I liked the two voices but was first surprised that it was the wife of the slave owner and the slave daughter but as I got into the story I felt this was the best way to present the conflict. I must admit the conclusion really surprised me. Both women were strong characters and certainly changed as the story evolved.
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