New novel explores harrowing impact of American slavery in pre-Civil War South

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Author and human rights lawyer Marlen Suyapa Bodden reveals the human cost of slavery in The Wedding Gift

STAMFORD, Conn. (MMD Newswire) February 11, 2010 -- Based on an actual pre-Civil War court case in Alabama, The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden draws readers into the dark world of American slavery, delivering an unflinching account of the tactics used to control both slaves and free women alike. The novel seeks to reveal how wealthy planters coerced women, black and white, exposing the brutality of slavery in the antebellum American South and its impact on one family.

The 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 happens to be his daughter as well, the product of his long-term 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. Bodden feels her knowledge of modern and historical slavery as well as human trafficking gives the story its authenticity and raw emotion.

First-time author Bodden got her inspiration for The Wedding Gift after reading about a 19th Century court case in Alabama 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. "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.

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 lawyer in New York City representing disadvantaged and immigrant workers. Bodden is a graduate of Tufts University and earned her law degree from New York University School of Law.

Jaime Cassavechia, Vice President, Susan Blond, Inc.
Phone: (212) 333-7728 ext. 108



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