Wench tells the story of Lizzie, a slave, who is the mistress to her master. When the story begins Lizzie and Drayle, her master, are vacationing in Ohio at a resort where other white men bring their slave mistresses. Each year Lizzie meets up with Reenie, Mawu, and Sweet other women in the same situation as Lizzie who share a few weeks together. As slaves, they all experience some of the same things, yet each has her own perspective on the life they are forced to lead. While all four women are factors in this story, it is mostly Lizzie whose life story unfolds, moving from a summer when the four women are at the resort together, to the backstory of how Lizzie and Drayle's relationship unfolded, and then back to the subsequent summers they spent at the resort.
This story was interesting to me, showing a relationship between Lizzie and Drayle that despite the fact that the two had very prescribed relationships because of the time and circumstances they lived in, also had more than just a master/slave relationship, and did care for each other. Mawu encourages Lizzie to run away toward freedom, yet Lizzie's feelings for Drayle made her situation more difficult. (Mawu's own relationship with her master was not nearly as pleasant or peaceful as Lizzie's).
Wench was well written, offering a different perspective on the slave/master relationship and providing a look at the practice of owners taking their slave mistresses with them on vacation. The Tawawa resort near Xenia, Ohio, did exist, and the masters who brought their mistresses there offended the abolitionists who frequented the place, until it closed after just four years of use.
This book will appeal to those who love historical fiction, women's fiction, or those looking for a great book club discussion.