(Strange that there is no exact image of the book cover I have available on- line, this is the nearest I can get.)
America's deep South in the early nineteenth century: Manon Gaudet is unhappily married to the owner of a Louisiana sugar plantation. She misses her family and longs for the vibrant lifestyle of her native New Orleans, but most of all she longs to be free of her suffocating domestic situation. The tension revolves around Sarah, a slave girl given to Manon as a wedding present from her aunt, whose young son Walter is living proof of where Manon's husband's inclinations lie.
....... Outer back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE (Part 1*): It never ends.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS (Page 50): It was like looking into the inkwell.I could make out the shape of the oak, but only as texture, like black velvet against black silk.
A novel about slavery? Hmm, I wasn't too sure about this, wouldn't it be harrowing and dark and, well, depressing?
You'd think so wouldn't you and yet, on the whole, Property failed to move me as much as I expected. Maybes because of the matter of fact way in which it was told or maybes because the author didn't seem to delve too deeply into the issues, or could it be there was no 'unneccessary' words, no over usage of descriptions? (My Memorable Moment being one of the few exceptions). I don't know what it was but I found it difficult to fully connect with the characters on a emotional level.
In fact, never mind on an emotional level, I failed to connect with most of the characters on any kind of level ..... Walter being the exception. The son of Manon's white husband (do you know I can't remember him ever being named) and black (though as the author distinguishes she is pale skinned) slave Sarah, Walter is born disabled, and seen as little better than an animal, he is treated accordingly which is actually what moved me the most as, in many ways, his story was even more harrowing than that of the other slaves.
The story of a unhappily married woman (Manon) who I found to be pitifully self-absorbed, her somewhat churlish husband, and Sarah, a slave 'given' to Manon on her wedding day, this is a book all about relationships, resentment, unrest and allegiances.
A difficult read but not for the reasons I expected, Property was one of those books that I found myself re-reading as I went along, convinced that I had missed something vital that would make the story meaningful.
* Another criticism being the lack of any true chapters - Ok so there were breaks in the narrative and the book was sectioned into four parts but, as most of you know, I do like my chapters.
READ AN EXTRACT courtesy of The Guardian newspaper.