When prestigious plantation owner Cornelius Allen gives his daughter Clarissa’s hand in marriage, she takes with her a gift: Sarah—her slave and her half-sister. Raised by an educated mother, Clarissa is not a proper southern belle she appears to be with ambitions of loving who she chooses and Sarah equally hides behind the façade of being a docile house slave as she plots to escape. Both women bring these tumultuous secrets and desires with them to their new home, igniting events that spiral into a tale beyond what you ever imagined possible and it will leave you enraptured until the very end.Told through alternating viewpoints of Sarah and Theodora Allen, Cornelius’ wife, Marlen Suyapa Bodden's The Wedding Gift is an intimate portrait that will leave readers breathless.
About the author
Marlen Suyapa Bodden is a lawyer at The Legal Aid Society in New York City. She has more than two decades' experience representing poor people and low-wage and immigrant workers, many of whom are severely underpaid, if paid at all.She drew on her knowledge of modern and historical slavery, human trafficking, and human rights abuses to write The Wedding Gift, her first novel, which will be globally published on September 24, 2013 by St. Martin's Press.Marlen is a graduate of New York University School of Law and Tufts University and has a Doctor of Laws (honorary) from the University of Rhode Island.
PLEASE WELCOME MARLEN TO BOOKHOUNDS
What is the first book you remember reading by yourself as a child?
I have tried, but I really can’t remember the first book I read by myself as a small child. The first book I remember reading on my own was not a children’s book, it was my older cousin’s copy of Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas and I was about twelve years old. I remember my parents noticing that I was reading it and my mother was concerned that I was too young for it, but my dad said it was OK.
What are you reading right now?
Right now I’m reading several books at once (actually I often do that, I read part of one book and then pick up another one), mainly non-fiction for research on my next historical novel on the conquest of Mexico: Conquest and Rivers of Gold, both by Hugh Thomas. I’m also re-reading Absalom, Absalom! and The House of the Seven Gables purely for fun.
How does your garden grow?
I haven’t had a garden since I was a teenager and lived at home. I really haven’t had time since I left home to go to college to devote to gardening. So now, my garden grows, but only in my mind. My garden is a dream and hope for what is to come when my life slows down. I can picture it: An elegant black and white garden. Every time I see photos I like of gardens I mentally add details to mine. Black flowers are illusions. It is said there is no such thing as a black flower and that such flowers actually are dark purple, brown, or burgundy. But I think the contrast of dark flowers next to white ones is striking. In my mind I see alternating rows or circles of black and white flowers. Somewhere in my garden is a hammock under a tall, leafy tree, where I will spend countless hours reading and napping.
What is the last thing you Googled?
I last googled black and white gardens and found a great article in the Denver Post: http://www.denverpost.com/grow/ci_17690851?source=email. The article suggests these black flowers: petunia, hollyhock, pansies, iris (I love the picture and name of the Superstition Bearded iris), and hyacinth. Black Pearl ornamental chile is a recommended plant.
What makes you cringe?
Generally, rodents and bugs make me cringe, even if they’re just in a scene in a movie. When I’m on a subway platform in NYC and there is a rat on the tracks I feel like running towards the exit.
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