What if, on your sister's wedding day, you were given to her - as her slave?
When wealthy plantation owner Cornelius Allen marries off his daughter Clarissa, he presents her with a wedding gift: a young slave woman called Sarah.
The two girls have grown up together but their lives could not have been more different.
Clarissa is white and is used to a life of privilege and ease.
Sarah is black and is used to a life of slavery and hard work.
Forbidden by law to leave the plantation, Sarah longs to be free - in mind and in body.
But when she decides her future lies away from Clarissa, she sets in motion a series of events that will have devastating consequences for them both.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 416 pages
- Publisher: Cornerstone
- Publication Date: 09/05/2013
- Category: Historical fiction
- ISBN: 9781780891019
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Review by readingwithtea
"That was how I learned what my future was to be, and my only thought was that my dreams of escaping were those of a fool. My absurd notions of running away or being bought into freedom by Isaac were exposed for what they were, empty plans made by a girl in bondage."Clarissa is born into Southern wealth - as the daughter of a plantation owner, she can expect privilege and honour all her life. Sarah is born into slavery - the daughter of a housekeeper, her life is considerably better than that of the fieldhands. The girls grow up together, which has its advantages for Sarah. But when Clarissa gets married and her father gives her Sarah as a maid, the two young women will be dependent on each other much more than they could have envisaged.This novel is full of fantastically strong women. Sarah, Theodora Allen, Emmeline, Belle, Clarissa, Miss Mary - Bodden writes compelling, attention-grabbing, wonderful women, decisive in the courses of their lives. Sarah in particular is impulsive and gutsy, but the reader cannot help rooting for her. The twist at the end was actually quite harrowing - it was totally unexpected and cast the rest of the novel in a totally different light.I was surprised by the social mores of the time in the white family - the common keeping of black mistresses, the physical abuse, the drinking... I don't really know why I was surprised by it when it featured pretty strongly a century later in The Shadow Queen. Amazing Grace is one of my favourite films, but it tells the story of slavery from a very British side. I have no way of knowing how accurate the depiction of the lives of cotton slaves is in The Wedding Gift, but like after I read The Help, I feel like I should do some learning. Which is a commendable result for a novel.Buy it, borrow it, get it, read it.