Conjure Women

Conjure WomenA Mother And Daughter With A Shared Talent For Healing And For The Conjuring Of Curses Are At The Heart Of This Dazzling First Novel Conjure Women Is A Sweeping Story That Brings The World Of The South Before And After The Civil War Vividly To Life Spanning Eras And Generations, It Tells Of The Lives Of Three Unforgettable Women Miss May Belle, A Wise Healing Woman Her Precocious And Observant Daughter Rue, Who Is Reluctant To Follow In Her Mother S Footsteps As A Midwife And Their Master S Daughter Varina The Secrets And Bonds Among These Women And Their Community Come To A Head At The Beginning Of A War And At The Birth Of An Accursed Child, Who Sets The Townspeople Alight With Fear And A Spreading Superstition That Threatens Their Newly Won, Tenuous FreedomMagnificently Written, Brilliantly Researched, Richly Imagined, Conjure Women Moves Back And Forth In Time To Tell The Haunting Story Of Rue, Varina, And May Belle, Their Passions And Friendships, And The Lengths They Will Go To Save Themselves And Those They Love self care do you perhaps mean adding books with gorgeous covers to your TBR list My first five star book of the year and a first novel to boot Many years back I read a book, The Healing, that made a huge impression and a book I have never forgotten This is another book that I would place in that class, another never to be forgotten story.With nary a misstep in plot, tone or character develop, Atakora takes us to a slave holding plantation in the South The book covers the period before the Civil War and after What makes this book so special is that I didn t feel like an o My first five star book of the year and a first novel to boot Many years back I read a book, The Healing, that made a huge impression and a book I have never forgotten This is another book that I would place in that class, another never to be forgotten story.With nary a misstep in plot, tone or character develop, Atakora takes us to a slave holding plantation in the South The book covers the period before the Civil War and after What makes this book so special is that I didn t feel like an observer but was drawn into the story, feeling as if I were a part of what was going to happen.The story follows a slave conjuring woman and her daughter Rue, which is also my granddaughters name and the last mistress of the house Verita After the war, the slaves stay on at the plantation, now ownerless, and their lives take many twists and turns Their lives during slavery was often beyond terrible and after, the freedom they have still enactes a high cost So many things happen in this book, the details, descriptions are incredible, all serve to make this a compulsive read. Definitely will go on my favorites shelf, and it will take a strong contender to displace this for my favorite of the year.The ending, though surprising, was just about perfect.ARC from Edelweiss Instagram Twitter FacebookPinterestCONJURE WOMEN is like if John Steinbeck sat down and wrote about the Black experience during the Civil War It s just as epic in scope and the author, Afia Atakora, does a really good job showing people at their best and at their worst in the microcosm of plantation life I was so impressed by the depth and complexity of all the characters, especially the two main characters, Rue and May Belle, who are the healing women on the plantation Instagram Twitter FacebookPinterestCONJURE WOMEN is like if John Steinbeck sat down and wrote about the Black experience during the Civil War It s just as epic in scope and the author, Afia Atakora, does a really good job showing people at their best and at their worst in the microcosm of plantation life I was so impressed by the depth and complexity of all the characters, especially the two main characters, Rue and May Belle, who are the healing women on the plantation and sometimes due hideously cruel things when their own selfishness and desperation to survive overrides their mission to do no harm.The novel is told in pieces The wartime parts are narrated by May Belle, a respected woman on the plantation who delivers the babies and does all the healing Her position is thrown into flux, though, as her daughter slowly comes of age and with her, the daughter of the plantation, Varina Brought up in relative shelter from the crueler machinations of the plantation, Rue has grown up blind to what white people are capable of That blind eye has some glaring repercussions for Rue and her mother.The second piece of the novel is narrated after the war Rue has now taken over her mother s duties, but she lacks her mother s warmth and her people regard her with suspicion and fear, especially when a mysterious plague starts to afflict the children, causing them to sicken and die Rue s foothold of power and respect is then thrown into question when a preacher named Abel comes and his biblical variety of salvation provesimminently consumable and palatable than her own.I loved this book so much In addition to the Steinbeck comparison for its simple but elegant brutality of the written word, I would say that this book also reminded me a lot of Octavia Butler s KINDRED It s one of thenuanced books of the Civil War era South I have ever read There are some scenes towards the end that are very hard to read, including torture and rape, but it s never too graphic, isn t lingered on, and is crucial to the story Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review 4 to 4.5 stars A powerful debut novel by this author.The story is about emancipated slaves continuing to live on the plantation they ve lived on for many years, after its destruction during the Civil War.It centers most around a healer conjure woman Miss May Belle, her daughter Rue, and Varina. the daughter of the white plantation owner.The story goes back and forth in time showing how they had to live pre and post civil war times.Miss May Belle was called upon for healing and the casting of spells and midw A powerful debut novel by this author.The story is about emancipated slaves continuing to live on the plantation they ve lived on for many years, after its destruction during the Civil War.It centers most around a healer conjure woman Miss May Belle, her daughter Rue, and Varina. the daughter of the white plantation owner.The story goes back and forth in time showing how they had to live pre and post civil war times.Miss May Belle was called upon for healing and the casting of spells and midwifery before the war. following her death after the war, Rue takes over..when she delivers a baby with a caul. and other children start getting ill, people start wondering if she is a witch.The slaves where now free but continuing to live on this ruined plantation. they didn t really know anything of the outside world, freedom hadn t yet changed their lives.Thank you to Netgalley and Random House for this ARC As a slave woman Miss May Belle made her nameby crafting curseHoodoois black folks currencya white man would come from afar having heard of Miss May Belle s conjure, asking for cure of some affliction set upon himby slaveby his own white wife May Belle and her daughter Rue lived in a cabin they shared alone a privilege to be sure Miss May Belle birthed every baby at Marse Charles her master s plantation Marse asked if May Belle was teaching her daughter Rue her know As a slave woman Miss May Belle made her nameby crafting curseHoodoois black folks currencya white man would come from afar having heard of Miss May Belle s conjure, asking for cure of some affliction set upon himby slaveby his own white wife May Belle and her daughter Rue lived in a cabin they shared alone a privilege to be sure Miss May Belle birthed every baby at Marse Charles her master s plantation Marse asked if May Belle was teaching her daughter Rue her knowledge It keeps my child in his ownership and I make her worth the owning Rue learned the art of healing within the time frame of the Civil War At this time, Rue was often off mischiefing with Miss Varnia, the red headed daughter of the plantation owner May Belle was soon to give up midwifery and healing She stopped wanting to touch mamas or their baby joy after her man was hanged Rue routinely delivered babies and tended the sick.Slavery had ended Freedom had come after the war for all black folks All excepting Rue,for she was born to healing and stuck to it for lifea secret curse of her own makingjust as easy as folks praise came, it could turn to hatingmagic and faith were fickle Bean was a seemingly accursed baby delivered by Rue a devilshe madein the woods from river water, from claya haint and blight against the townspeopledistrust heaped upon him, as soon as he blinked open his bean black eyes Conjure Women , a debut novel by Afia Atakora, describes the life of Rue, born into slavery, taught the art of healing and birthing by her mother, May Belle Schooled in the old ways in times of slavery, during the Civil War, Rue was ill prepared for post war freedom Freedom was a word with weights It meant deciding to stay or to go Author Atakora masterfully paints a picture of Varnia, the Southern belle, Black eyed Bean, and travelling preacher Bruh Abel as well I highly recommend this work of historical fiction.Thank you Random House Publishing Group Random House and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review Conjure Women NOW AVAILABLE A gripping debut that follows the lives of three women through the years as the Civil Wars looms, as well as the years that follow the war, and the people in this community Shared through the thoughts and days of Miss May Belle, a conjure woman her daughter, Rue, who is still a child as this story begins, but who will grow to learn her mother s skills in both casting spells and delivering babies and Varina, daughter of Marse Charles, the plantation owner, and who through t NOW AVAILABLE A gripping debut that follows the lives of three women through the years as the Civil Wars looms, as well as the years that follow the war, and the people in this community Shared through the thoughts and days of Miss May Belle, a conjure woman her daughter, Rue, who is still a child as this story begins, but who will grow to learn her mother s skills in both casting spells and delivering babies and Varina, daughter of Marse Charles, the plantation owner, and who through their childhood, Rue believes to be her friend Add to these Bruh Abel, a magnetic preacher who seems to have his own agenda, and a community who turns to Miss May Belle for healing and birthing, but who turns against her when they feel a need to blame someone The author did her homework, reading narratives by those who were enslaved during this time period, the stories gathered by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930 s It touches on the horrors of both slavery and the years of post war freedom, when there were rapes, lynchings and assorted other acts of terror on those whose skin colour was not white Still, this doesn t dwell in those horrors, but shares a brief view into the hearts and minds of both sides in this place and these times At the same time, it is primarily through a chosen few that Atakora shares this moving story of conjuring and the belief in miracles Pub Date 07 April 2020Many thanks for the ARC provided by Random House Publishing Group Random House 4.5 stars Afia Atakora is a new voice who writes with all the seasoning of a mature novelist Conjure Women blends vivid imagery with lush prose and in depth characterizations In a world as complex as the topsy turvy doll that graces the book cover, nothing is ever simply black and white Atakora explores gender roles, the roles of slaves and their masters and mistresses, childbirth and death, and none of it is ever simple She examines the nuances and the ways that lives are blended, melti 4.5 stars Afia Atakora is a new voice who writes with all the seasoning of a mature novelist Conjure Women blends vivid imagery with lush prose and in depth characterizations In a world as complex as the topsy turvy doll that graces the book cover, nothing is ever simply black and white Atakora explores gender roles, the roles of slaves and their masters and mistresses, childbirth and death, and none of it is ever simple She examines the nuances and the ways that lives are blended, melting into one another, and as she does, Atakora divines the miracles of perception and of how history shapes who we are, who we become So brilliantly does she fling the threads of her story into the past and the future, that I could only breathe in the pages and sit in awe Rue is following in her slave mother, May Belle s footsteps May Belle was well known for her hoodooing Rue learns which herbs to use for what and eventhan that, she observes her mother s relationships in the community The intricacies of those relationships, of physical and emotional needs, of the power of a curse, of hope and loss, of love and despair are things Rue learns from May Belle By becoming invisible, she can learn a lot Rue knows how old she is because the master s daughter, Varina, was born the same year Red haired Varina and Rue often play together in the evenings Varina is not allowed outside in the daytime due to her fair skin coloring Like an expert and colorful weaver, Atakora casts backward into the past during slavery time, then forward into freedom time, weaving her unique tapestry of words.The story begins during freedom time when Rue is around twenty years old, delivering Sarah s baby Sarah was a house girl, who although young, already has two children This child is different He doesn t look like Jonah, his daddy He s very light skinned and he has strange dark eyes Rue calls him Black Eyed Bean, and even though his mother names him Jordan, Bean is the name that sticks Bean is born in an intact amniotic sac, and while Rue has seen other babies wearing the veil, she s never seen one swimming inside red black water She feels this is an ominous sign, even though babies wearing the caul are said to have the sight The mother is also shocked by her baby s appearance, for his skin is strangely dry, near scaled This baby will have a profound influence on Rue As he grows, children and adults are not accepting of his strange appearance and often different behavior They begin to look askance at Rue, blaming her for the strange child that she delivered A most fascinating character in this narrative is Bruh Abel, a traveling preacher, born of a black mother and a white father He becomes a powerful figure in Rue s community with the ability to either elevate a person or dash their reputation Bruh Abel is a much different person than what I at first expected and I enjoyed being surprised by his character arc There are some gripping revelations as Atakora spins her tale Lies and deceptions will coil and spring Whatever it takes to survive, this is paramount An exceptional debut novel that begs to be read and reread In a conversation with Penguin Random House, Atakora says, The end of the war and slavery was hopeful for some and a horror for others, a tumultuous time that must have been something like the times we find ourselves in now where everything has been turned all over and we re waiting to see what settles, who we are going to be I was very disappointed with the ending of this book It was interesting enough to keep me hooked but the ending was too ambiguous for me. Atakora s debut novel draws heavily from primary sources first person accounts, diaries, autobiographies recounted through amanuenses of Black Americans for the period during the Civil War and the years immediately afterward The setting is a plantation owned once owned by Charles But this is really a story about three important women who lived there Miss May Belle who helped fellow enslaved women with childbirth andRue, her daughter, that followed in her footsteps and Varina, the dau Atakora s debut novel draws heavily from primary sources first person accounts, diaries, autobiographies recounted through amanuenses of Black Americans for the period during the Civil War and the years immediately afterward The setting is a plantation owned once owned by Charles But this is really a story about three important women who lived there Miss May Belle who helped fellow enslaved women with childbirth andRue, her daughter, that followed in her footsteps and Varina, the daughter of Charles and close friend of Rue.The narrative flows back and forth between Slaverytime and Freedomtime The POV of Slaverytime is Miss May Belle, and it is Rue s POV that we hear in Freedomtime One of the secondary characters is the charismatic black preacher Bruh Abel Atakora appears to have included him to highlight the cultural swirl of Christianity, superstition, and folk practices in the Black people s lives of the period.The plot tends to meander through this period that Atakora describes as strangely bittersweet, psychologically fraught She states that the first draft was written at a fever dream pace in about nine months.I resolved to keep the writing style to a similarly hazy quality, as much to capture that first inspiration as to emulate the telling and retelling of oral history common throughout the African Diaspora That helps to explain a lot and why I thought some of the plot line was a bit of a mess at times I finished this book yesterday, but I wanted to wait a day before I left a review I wanted to see if I would continue to think about this book and or let the book stew and simmer in my mind before I articulated my thoughts about this debut novel, Conjure Women, from Afia Atakora I am still uncertain about what to say about this book To be honest, it was not a remarkable read for me Given the title, I was first intrigued because I figured this book had to do with some magic , vodun, healing, I finished this book yesterday, but I wanted to wait a day before I left a review I wanted to see if I would continue to think about this book and or let the book stew and simmer in my mind before I articulated my thoughts about this debut novel, Conjure Women, from Afia Atakora I am still uncertain about what to say about this book To be honest, it was not a remarkable read for me Given the title, I was first intrigued because I figured this book had to do with some magic , vodun, healing, and conjuring However, theI read, the less and less it was about what I thought of as conjuring, butof a complex host of situations that was happening in this non sequential history of slavery before, during, and after the Civil War Conjure Women, follows the life of Miss Rue, who is the daughter of a conjurer Miss May Belle, her mama, has learned the art of hoodooing, and there is where Miss Rue has learned her lessons of conjuring A skittish and stay out the way child, Miss Rue grows up with the lessons of conjuring from her mama, and we learn how Miss Rue grows up and comes of age within the boundaries of slavery and how she lives a life post slavery This book was both anti climatic but engaging at the same time, and I was keen on seeing this novel all the way through I may have the unpopular opinion about this novel, as I really didn t like the way the story unfolded The points of views changed constantly, the voice changed back and forth from 2nd to 3rd , and the story dragged on endlessly I thought this book had to do with the generations of conjure women in Rue s family, but itso dealt how Rue handled life, the consequences of slavery pre and post Civil War, and how she used conjuring to protect her ideas of life, liberty, and happiness I also believe that Rue was institutionalized regarding slavery She was free post Civil War , but saw freedom as useless, and didn t want to leave her plantation Freedom seemed to them to be as useless as the currency of a nation that didn t exist any There was so much going on in this book to deal with white women lying on black men Black men being punished killed for white lies Black people trying to take control of the little they had by protecting it, through conjuring Dealing with freedom Learning how to deal with the devastation plunder of black bodies under slavery Passing for white Being enslaved Secrets I mean the list can go on and on To be honest, I was very confused and disenchanted by this book about half way through, but I wanted to continue to get to the end to find out what was going to happen to Rue, Bean, Varina, Ma Doe, Miss May Belle, Bruh Abel, Jonah, and Sarah Some backstories were not elaborated on, and left out some facts that I felt were pertinent to the story Overall, was it a worthy read Yes I think this book will invoke some good discussions, especially around the institution of slavery and freedom, protecting what s yours by any means necessary, and what white people s entitlement means for black lives For me though, I would rate this book a 3 I just wasn t that impressed with the overall package this book brought, and I was hoping forthat just didn t come to fruition Thank you to Net Galley, Afia Atakora and Random House for providing me with an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review

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  • Hardcover
  • 416 pages
  • Conjure Women
  • Afia Atakora
  • 03 April 2019
  • 0525511482