book review · historical fiction · history

Book Review: Property by Valerie Martin

Property delivers incredible insight into barbarity of slavery in America. “Property” describes not only situation of the slaves but also of the wife of sugar plantation owner. Manon is unhappy in her marriage, she misses her family and longs for the vibrant lifestyle of her native New Orleans. She saffocates because of her domestic situation.

The book is beautifully written. With simple and clear language, the author was able to depict atrocities committed by slaves’ owners. In fact, the story is told in such a way that it made me feel everything. I was angry, frustrated, and emotional.

Nevertheless, I am disappointed with the main character, Manon. She is extremely unhappy and bitter but does nothing to change her life. She simply waits until her husband dies so she will get back her freedom. Although the story is a testimony of lives of many women during those times, I once would like to read about woman who tries to change something. Of course, Manon was a creation of social structure, which determined her character, but still… why is it so hard to write about strong heroine, who fights for her freedom? Why many authors keep on writing about weak and impotent women, who wait to be rescued? Don’t we need positive examples that would inspire women to try change their tragic situation little by little?
So, at the end Manon becomes free due to her husband’s death but she remains unhappy and bitter…

Fortunately, Manon’s inactivity is contrasted with Sarah’s desire to become free. Sarah is a slave girl given to Manon as a wedding present from her aunt. Manon despises Sarah and does not recognizes her as a human being. However, this is Sarah, who escapes from her oppressor and does anything in her power to become free. As she says, even a short moment of freedom is worth sacrifice.

Overall rating: 4/5

property

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8 thoughts on “Book Review: Property by Valerie Martin

  1. Property sounds interesting, but I have a hard time reading books with characters like you described Manon. Although you said the Sarah character helps balance it out so I still can’t decide if I want to read this one…which probably means I will lol.

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  2. I think passivity in women from an earlier time can often be difficult to accept. I think one needs to know that there is an alternative to passivity and resignation before one can seek it. I haven’t yet read the book, but I have certainly known women who really didn’t know there was another way to live life.

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  3. I think this book is worth reading because it is controversial. It is thought- provoking and frustrating, at the same time. Although Manon is a difficult character, I think you would enjoy her sarcastic monologues 😊

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  4. We still live in patriarchal societies and to the extent I understand that some women are unable to see that there might be alternative way of life. What bothers me is this extreme passivity and lack of belief in change. For this reason, I believe we should see more books showing inspiring female characters.

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  5. I agree with you about needing many alternative portrayals. Have you read the memoir “Educated?” It is an excellent portrayal of a young woman coming to see that she has choices.

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  6. I’ve been really twisted up lately by the notion that upon the abolition of slavery reparations were paid to the slave *owners*, rather than the slaves… and that very situation has played out in multiple countries across the world. Sounds like this book might be a good one to help me work through some of those feelings, so thank you so much for this review/recommendation! It’s come just at the right time for me (as the right books always do) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think this is really good book to understand the relation between slave owners and slaves. The book is very well written so you will really feel what characters are going through.

    Liked by 1 person

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