All Press Releases for January 13, 2010

New Novel Explores the Harrowing Impact of American Slavery on The Women--Black and White--of One Family In Pre-Civil War South

Author/Human Rights Lawyer Marlen Suyapa Bodden Reveals The Steep Human Cost of Slavery in The Wedding Gift

    STAMFORD, CT, January 13, 2010 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Based on an actual court case (1840) in Alabama, published on the eve of Black History Month, The Wedding Gift (January 18) by Marlen Suyapa Bodden draws readers into the dark world of American slavery, delivering an unflinching account of the tactics used to control both slave- and free women alike. The novel reveals how wealthy planters coerced women--black and white, exposing the brutality of slavery in the antebellum American South and its impact on one family and its women.

The sweeping historical novel tells the story of what transpires when Cornelius Allen, a wealthy plantation owner, marries off his daughter Clarissa and presents her with a wedding gift: a young slave woman, Sarah, who just so happens to be his daughter as well, the product of his long-term sexual relationship with a slave. When Clarissa's husband rejects her newborn son as illegitimate and sends Clarissa and Sarah back to the Allens, their return sets in motion a series of events that will ultimately destroy the once-powerful family. Told through the alternating viewpoints of Sarah and Cornelius's wife, Theodora, the story twists and turns through the wealthy planter and merchant societies of Alabama, South Carolina, Louisiana and New York, culminating in the British West Indies with a controversial, even shocking, ending. The Wedding Gift comes from the pen of human rights lawyer Marlen Suyapa Bodden, whose knowledge of modern and historical slavery as well as human trafficking, gives the story its authenticity and raw emotion.

First-time author Bodden got the inspiration for The Wedding Gift, after reading about a 19th Century court case in Talladega County, AL where a slave owner sued his wife for divorce and won the property rights to a young slave woman whom his wife had brought to the marriage as a wedding gift from her father. The story takes place in the antebellum period of the South, but modern-day slavery, Bodden says, parallels the appalling conditions of that time.

Bodden says the story sheds light on how plantation owners controlled not only their slaves, but also their wives and daughters. "My novel explores how planters restrained and repressed slaves and free women alike, propelling them along a treacherous social tightrope as they struggled for freedom and autonomy in an oppressive and patriarchal world," Bodden says. "Today, human traffickers around the world using similar tactics of coercion, make slavery a $32 billion a year industry. The parallels between modern-day slavery and slavery in the antebellum South, most notably the use of violence and the threat of violence, are chilling."

The Wedding Gift is available for sale online at, and through additional wholesale and retail channels worldwide.

About the Author
Marlen Suyapa Bodden has more than 20 years experience as a New York City-based lawyer representing disadvantaged and immigrant workers. She has used her legal experience and knowledge of human trafficking, human rights abuses, and slavery to write The Wedding Gift. Bodden is a graduate of Tufts University and earned her law degree from New York University School of Law. She currently resides in Stamford, CT.


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Phone: (212) 333-7728 ext. 111

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