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Property by Valerie Martin
Valerie Martin's novel Property is set in an antebellum sugar cane plantation in Louisiana. The narrator of the novel, Manon Gaudet, is one unhappy woman. She's trapped in a marriage to a boorish and cruel man, she's frigid and barren, and her husband has slept with her slave to produce his only heir, a mulatto son. Manon, herself, is pretty nasty to her slaves, taking out the rage of her own life on her servants. Valerie Martin has written a novel that takes a stark look at life in the south before the Civil War, juxtaposing the unhappy life of white women in a man's world to the even harsher cruelty of slavery. Salon.com says, "Property shows how easy it is, even for the astute, to adopt the prevailing notions of one's age, to allow deeper contradictions to go unquestioned, and to protest only when our own rights and comforts are curtailed."