Wash by Margaret Wrinkle

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Registered: 08-11-2008
Wash by Margaret Wrinkle
Fri, 01-10-2014 - 12:22pm

Wash by Margaret Wrinkle 417 pages 1/9/14 pub 2013

This is not a historical novel that’s an escape, nor is it ‘beach reading.’ It’s a debut novel of ideas and not drama, of character and community. It's beautifully written. It’s set in rural Tennessee, when that was the west. Richardson is a slave owner, molded by the Revolution. He knows owning slaves is wrong, but he does it. Wash is named after the first president and Richardson hires him out for stud, to resolve debts, not understanding, or caring, what this will do to him. Pallas is the midwife/ healer on the next farm over, who heals them both. Told in the POV of each of these characters, this wasn’t always easy to read, and sometimes it felt like little happened, but it does. Set from 1812 to twenty years beyond 1825, that’s how one of the characters puts it, we see how the country, Tennessee and Memphis come to be. I’m very glad I read this and I think many others will count themselves glad to have read it as well.

Richardson: “It was a Thursday in late March of 1796 when I first laid eyes on Mena… Then she turned to look at me. You would have thought she felt my eyes on her. She didn’t glance at me and then away like most of them. Mena gazed at me even and steady until I began to wonder what she saw in me.” (54) Wash: “Turns out there’s a way to give in without losing. You got to find some slack in you. Just this side of your breaking point. Each of us got a different breaking point, according to who you are and the life you get born inside.” (218) “Pallas can only shake her head each time she witnesses the true craziness of some white folks. With Richardson, if his mouth does not form the words and tell them to somebody, then the thought itself never crossed his mind. No wonder white folks think if something never gets told, then it didn’t happen.” (406)

I received this ARC from Amazon Vine, arr 11/26/13 in return for a fair review.