Laura's Review - Property

Valerie Martin
193 pages
Set in the 1830s, Property is the story of Manon, the wife of a Louisiana sugar cane plantation owner. Manon despises her boorish husband and is justifiably resentful of his affair with her housemaid Sarah, which has produced two children. She is disturbed by his cruel brutality towards his slaves. And yet, she cannot escape values shaped during her own childhood in a slaveowning family. She holds her own father in high regard for having been a more compassionate owner, but fails to see the injustice of humans as property.

Manon's days of idle leisure are interrupted both by her mother's illness and a slave revolt, Sarah's escape, and the subsequent effort to track her down and return her to Manon. These events provide some movement and force to the plot. The novel provides an unusual perspective -- that of a woman slaveowner -- and it definitely held my interest. However, in presenting Manon's story, the author appeared to maintain a rather neutral position on slavery. It seemed I was supposed to side with Manon in wishing for Sarah's return, when I wanted nothing more than for Sarah to find freedom. I believe this was an accurate portrayal of a certain type of individual during that time period, but I was unable to identify with her, which dampened my enthusiasm for this novel. ( )
My original review can be found here.