Book - 2003
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From the acclaimed author ofMary Reilly, a groundbreaking novel that reexamines the questions of power and resistance, violence and sex, which inform all her work. Set in the surreal heat of the antebellum South during a slave rebellion, PROPERTY takes the form of a dramatic monologue, bringing to the page a voice rarely heard in American fiction: the voice of a woman slave holder. Manon Gaudet is pretty and petulant, self-absorbed and bored. She has come to a sugar plantation north of New Orleans as a bride, bringing with her a prized piece of property, the young slave Sarah, only to see Sarah become her husband's mistress and bear his child. As the whispers of a slave rebellion grow louder and more threatening, Manon speaks to us of her past and her present, her longings and dreams -- an uncensored, pitch-perfect voice from the heart of moral darkness. PROPERTY is riveting fiction, fast, richly plotted, shimmering with visual detail. It is also an invitation to re-examine the traditions of the Southern novel and the myth of the chivalrous South, and a haunting meditation on what Valerie Martin has called "the fantastic and constant perversity of the oppressor to feel victimized by the oppressed."
Published: New York : Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2003.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780385504089
Branch Call Number: F MAR
Characteristics: 196 p. ;,22 cm.


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Aug 06, 2017

Orange prize

Nov 28, 2012

This is a very interesting and thought-provoking novel set in 1828 in the American south at the time of a slave rebellion. The narrator is a woman slave owner who is herself enslaved by her marriage and patriarchial society. Nevertheless, she is an unsmpathetic character who is totally self-centred and self-serving, who never once expresses any human understanding or sympathy for "her" slave.

Nov 30, 2009

This is the 69th of a series of titles selected by writer Yann Martel to provide to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, to encourage an appreciation of the arts and literature in particular in the PM, and to also help Harper with his stillness and thoughtfulness. Martel has regularly sent books from a wide range of literary traditions to Harper. Martel has devoted a Web site to the reading list and his kind, considered and often poignant covering letters with each volume. (All of his letters can be read at They are also now in printed form, in a book entitled, not surprisingly, What is Stephen Harper Reading? )

Martel's thoughtful persistence in this quest, started in April 2007, is both heartwrenching and highly commendable. He has never received a direct acknowledgement from Harper, and only some fairly form-letter responses from Harper's staff. He has also received a response from Industry Minister Tony Clement, but it wasn't directly related to any of Martel's book selections.

Set in the American South in the early 1800s, Property by Valerie Martin focuses on the moral struggles of Manon, a woman whose husband and family own slaves. Manon is in effect enslaved by not being able to rebel again this reprehensible practice.

Martel's words in his cover letter to Harper are wise and telling, "Manon is unremitting in her aversion to hypocrisy, her own and that of the people around her, but she never manages to improve herself. She is lucidly corrupt, her heart poisoned and her life bitter. It makes for a fascinating story, one that is contemporary, even eternal, because the nature of systems continues to be contagious, for better and for worse. An educational system can improve us, for example, while an economic system can corrupt us."


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