#AmReading List: Little Women & Wench

Last Updated on September 26, 2018 by Palessa D

One of the things I’m trying to get better at is reading more fiction. I read religiously anyway, but it’s usually blog posts and other learning material– which is never-ending. It’s not easy to read fiction when I’m so focused on the business side of being an author, including writing blogs/books/stories and editing. So, how do I sneak some fiction into my routine? By force, of course.

For me, reading fiction is a part of the job of being an author/writer, but it’s also about having some unstructured fun where I just let my brain wander. Part of me is still saying, “You need to do do this for the client, need to do that for the blog,…” BUT I pretty much gag that voice and shove it in a dark closet for a bit.

Sometimes, I read a classical work and something more contemporary to balance things out. I have read Anna Karenina, Jane Eyre, War & Peace as well as more Forbidden The Stars, Exigency and Polar Bear Dawn (don’t  judge this book by its cover because it was a great read), just to name a few.

Notice something: None of these are romances.

I don’t have anything against romances (obviously). I have read some of the best and more than a few who are underrated indies. While I’ll read romances every-so-often, I choose to explore other genres I’ve enjoyed on TV. I loved Star Trek, Babylon 5, The Outer Limits, Farscape, Highlander, Eureka, Merlin, Charmed, Spartacus and have been sucked into more a few thousand hours of Lifetime TV. I want to write stories from different genres and am working towards expanding my repertoire.

Along those lines, here are my most recent #amreading books:

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women - Free Amazon ClassicWhenever I read classical works, I tend to skew British. Reading a U.S. classic is unusual and now I understand why. It took me a while to get into the story about four sisters coming of age during the Civil War because it felt a bit puritanical at times. I felt like I was reading a fable and I resisted it. If you’ve ever read a intense book like John Jakes’ North & South–which I hope to read again–you’ll understand what I mean and what I’m used to.That book took on the Civil War from the inside and wove a deliciously entangled web.

This story is definitely more literary with minimal conflict, and I wound up liking it. Granted, my favorite of the sisters, Jo, got the short end because she dared to speak her mind and have a temper. Considering the time, I understood that she would, but it still irked me. I’m glad I read it and get why people love it.

Wench by Dolens Perkins-Valdez

I was introduced to this book by readers in an interracial romance book group and thought I would check it out. It had an interesting premise. Black women, slaves, treated as concubines when brought to an annual retreat by their masters. This took place in the 1850’s, so it was before the Civil War, buy there were murmurings. During their time at this resort, they are somewhat freer. Some women are related to their masters, but it’s that drop of “black blood” that makes the difference.

One woman, Lizzie, has two children for her master, Drayle. She speaks of affection for him because he treats her well. The others are different, and, in the case of Mawu, painfully so. There’s this one scene where Mawu’s master, Tip, makes a cruel and painful example of her because there was talk of escaping.

This book is rich, visceral and made me question the concept of love, especially in such an unfair relationship. Yes, you can be treated better than some of the other slaves, but you’re still a slave, subject to the whims and cruelties of people who think you are less than human and no better than livestock. The writing is evocative, some of it disturbing, but you don’t question if it could happen because it’s common knowledge that this was likely to have happened. I wouldn’t call this a romance. It’s historical fiction, for sure, but the romantic elements play into the politics of the time where it was more of a survival tool than a precursor to happily ever after. I liked this book because it made me think, question, feel so much.

If you check out any of these books, let me know what you think!

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