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Publisher's Summary

When Cornelius Allen gives his daughter Clarissa’s hand in marriage, he presents her with a wedding gift: the young slave she grew up with, Sarah. Sarah is also Allen’s daughter and Clarissa’s sister, a product of his longtime relationship with his house slave, Emmeline. When Clarissa’s husband suspects that their newborn son is illegitimate, Clarissa and Sarah are sent back to her parents, Cornelius and Theodora, in shame, setting in motion a series of events that will destroy this once-powerful family.

Told through alternating viewpoints of Sarah and Theodora Allen, Cornelius’ wife, The Wedding Gift is a stunning novel that shows where the complicated and compelling bonds and relationships between women explored in novels like The Help and The Secret Life of Bees began. Marlen Suyapa Bodden's novel is an intimate portrait that shows where this particular American story and dynamic all started and will leave listeners breathless.

Includes a reading group guide read by the author.

©2013 Marlen Suyapa Bodden (P)2013 Macmillan Audio

What listeners say about The Wedding Gift

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I was up past 4 a.m. listening to this book!

What did you like best about this story?

The author was very vivid, I could see the characters and scenery.

Which character – as performed by Jenna Lamia and January LaVoy – was your favorite?

Sarah

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, absolutely.

17 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wow! You must listen to this audio book!

What did you love best about The Wedding Gift?

There were many parts of this book that were hard to read/listen to because it deals with slavery. This is something that I sometimes just want to pretend never happened it is so unbelievably horrible. That being said, this book is so well written that I couldn't stop reading it. The author did an amazing job of being true to history and at the same time developing fictional characters that were well thought out and believable all the way through. And the narrators were just perfect - the best I've heard!

What did you like best about this story?

The hope in the main characters who, despite impossible circumstances, did what they thought was right. They were both very strong women!

What does Jenna Lamia and January LaVoy bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The emotion and characterization that their narrations add to this book are indescribable?

16 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Slavery as viewed by 2 sisters, only 1 a slave

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend this book to a friend. Historic fiction gives us different views of how life existed. How life today is different and yet so similar.

What other book might you compare The Wedding Gift to and why?

This book is very similar to Sue Monk Kidd's The Invention of Winds in that it looks at slavery as viewed from two sisters. However, in this book, the father is the plantation master and he has two daughters. His wife gives birth to a daughter and then one of his slaves gives birth to his other daughter, a slave. The slave daughter becomes the lady's maid to her sister. I appreciated this view because it made me think more about what it would be like to be born a slave and as the daughter of the plantation owner. It is sad to think that someone would have two children and think of each so differently, because of their skin color.

9 people found this helpful

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Superb narration

If you could sum up The Wedding Gift in three words, what would they be?

Thought-provoking, in-depth, inspiring

Who was your favorite character and why?

Theodora because she had such spiritual and emotional poise in light of her full awareness of her husbands dealings and how she treated Sarah. I would like to think that there were a some wives like her around at that time

Which character – as performed by Jenna Lamia and January LaVoy – was your favorite?

The narration absolutely made this book for me. I believe it would have been a different experience, I might not have even liked it so much, if I had just read it and not hear the characters come alive. I could choose one or the other. I thoroughly enjoyed the typical way of talking of these ladies and those who they represent. A superb job by both narrators!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, I finished it very quickly after I caught on to the pattern of the book. I was very interested in hearing the "flip side" of the same events.

10 people found this helpful

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Excellent novel

Where does The Wedding Gift rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Definitely in the top ten.

What did you like best about this story?

The contrast in story line between Sarah the slave and Thedore the wife of a slave owner.

Which character – as performed by Jenna Lamia and January LaVoy – was your favorite?

Sarah

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It was sad the way Charissa was treated by her Father.

Any additional comments?

Excellent narrator....well paced audio book.

4 people found this helpful

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Wow!

Great storyline and well developed characters. Very enlightening if you don't know much about this part of our history. Great performance too!

4 people found this helpful

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I Really Wanted to Like This Book. But -

Having recently listened to The Invention of Wings, this book pales in comparison. That makes me sad, because I really wanted to like this book. The performances are fine. The writing, however, is somewhat painful.

Like The Invention of Wings, the story is told from the perspective of two women - one a black slave, the other a free white. But the writing is awkward. The two perspectives do not interweave well. The first three chapters were all from one woman's perspective. I almost gave up on the book before finally getting to Jenna Lamia's character.

The writing for January LaVoy's character is particularly annoying. In dialogue, the character (Sarah) can be so simple and slow-witted that I'd like to smack her. But in first person exposition, the character uses language that is ridiculously unrealistic for a slave of that era. For example: "...Mr. and Mrs. Allen misjudged my ability to anticipate and prevent Clarissa's impetuous disregard for the moral edicts to which she was bound..." Seriously? This is a slave telling her story?

The experience of the slaves seems rather gentle, and the interactions between slaves and owners seem overly familiar and friendly. It's a rather romanticized version of a slavery-era story, wherein the slave owner treats his slaves better than he does his own wife and daughter.

The dialogue is clunky throughout. Dialogue that turns into something more akin to alternating monologues is used to accomplish extensive exposition. Too much of the story is told through passive exposition rather than unfolding action. It just feels like the product of a very inexperienced author - like a first attempt by a college freshman in an introductory composition class.

I'd have returned the book unfinished, but I purchased it through a special (spend 4 credits in a month and get a $10 account credit). So, I forced myself through the book to hear the story, in spite of the writing (and in spite of seeing the twist coming from a mile away). Only the talent of the readers allowed me to continue to listen.

3 people found this helpful

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Absolutely STUNNING!!!

I immediately became obsessed with/addicted to this story and finished it in 2 days. I am an avid reader of slave narrative fiction and this is one of my favorites. The way the author tells the story, by alternating the main characters in first person narration, kept the story flowing beautifully. The story itself is mesmerizing and original in its perspective. This is a must read.

3 people found this helpful

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Good story

The narrators were great. they spoke perfectly for their characters. that's a big deal to me. really help make a good story. I really loved the women in this story. and learned some interesting facts. I started to think the end was going to be disappointing but it took and unexpected turn. I like that I didn't catch on to what was going to be told.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent Book!

The Wedding Gift is an excellent book. While listening to the story, I experienced many emotions. I suggest you read/listen to this book.

2 people found this helpful