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Property: Book summary and reviews of Property by Valerie Martin

Property

A Novel

by Valerie Martin

Property by Valerie Martin X
Property by Valerie Martin
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  • Published Feb 2003
    208 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Book Summary

From the acclaimed author of Mary Reilly, a groundbreaking novel that reexamines the questions of power and resistance, violence and sex, which inform all her work.

Set in the surreal heat of the antebellum South during a slave rebellion, Property takes the form of a dramatic monologue, bringing to the page a voice rarely heard in American fiction: the voice of a woman slave holder. Manon Gaudet is pretty and petulant, self-absorbed and bored. She has come to a sugar plantation north of New Orleans as a bride, bringing with her a prized piece of property, the young slave Sarah, only to see Sarah become her husband's mistress and bear his child. As the whispers of a slave rebellion grow louder and more threatening, Manon speaks to us of her past and her present, her longings and dreams – an uncensored, pitch-perfect voice from the heart of moral darkness.

Property is riveting fiction, fast, richly plotted, shimmering with visual detail. It is also an invitation to re-examine the traditions of the Southern novel and the myth of the chivalrous South, and a haunting meditation on what Valerie Martin has called "the fantastic and constant perversity of the oppressor to feel victimized by the oppressed."

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Book Awards

  • award image Women's Prize for Fiction, 2003

Reviews

Media Reviews

"The book is taut and atmospheric and effectively chronicles an obsessive fixation" - Booklist

"I made the "mistake" of glancing at the opening page and was instantly hijacked into the text. This fresh, unsentimental look at what slaveowning does to (and for) one's interior life must be a first. And the writing — so prised and clean-limbed–is a marvel." - Toni Morrison

"A wonderful novel, vivid, revealing." - Carol Shields

"In this stunningly powerful novel, Valerie Martin's gifts--a fearless originality and seemingly limitless perspective combined with a cool and elegant intelligence--are all on splendid display." - Barbara Gowdy

"[Property] is vivid and gripping. I read it in one gulp." - Marilyn French

"[Property] is a brilliant, chillingly revelatory piece of fiction, a work of craft, economy and such good merciless observation--one of those rare, crucial novels illuminating a history we think we know and understand so that after we've read it we'll never forget its truth." - Ali Smith, author of Hotel World

This information about Property was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Valerie Martin Author Biography

Valerie Martin is the author of eleven novels, including Trespass, Mary Reilly, Italian Fever, and Property, four collections of short fiction, and a biography of St. Francis of Assisi. She has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as the Kafka Prize (for Mary Reilly) and Britain's Orange Prize (for Property).

Valerie Martin's most recent novel The Ghost of the Mary Celeste was published by Nan A. Talese/Random House in 2014, and is now available in paper from Vintage. Sea Lovers, a volume of new and selected short fiction, also from Nan A. Talese, was published in August of 2015.

Two volumes of a trilogy for middle-grade readers Anton and Cecil: Cats at Sea and Anton and Cecil: Cats on Track, co-written with ...

... Full Biography
Link to Valerie Martin's Website

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  • The Ghost of the Mary Celeste jacket

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