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Conjure Women

af Afia Atakora

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3741553,038 (3.99)18
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» Se også 18 omtaler

Viser 1-5 af 15 (næste | vis alle)
A very beautifully written book set in the south both at the outbreak of the civil war and in the time after, when now freed enslaved people are transitioning to a world where they now free, no more accepted, however, and fighting to survive.

The story is told by Rue, both when she is a young enslaved girl living on a large plantation with her mother May Belle, and as a freed adult. There are a few chapters told from May Belle's perspective as well. The story switches back and forth in time, and between May Belle and Rue, as well as a bit about Varina, the daughter of the slave owner. As the timelines shift back and forth, the storylines start to come together and fill in the missing bits. The switching of perspectives and narrators was smooth and there was no confusion about who was speaking or where I was.

Rue's mother is the healer on the plantation, and later Rue takes over the role, but as an adult, starts to believe she is losing her magick. (This "magick" is more of the folk kind, not the fantasy kind.) This is a story about their lives, their traditions, their beliefs - and what Rue does to survive.

The writing is rich and atmospheric, and really well-plotted, with plenty of twists. The characters are well-drawn - complex and realistic. There are so many words to describe this tale: heartbreaking, cruel, beautiful, haunting - especially haunting, as the story stayed with me long after I'd turned the last page. Truly memorable.

I was provided a copy of the book via NetGalley for review purposes. All opinions are my own. ( )
  jenncaffeinated | Jul 4, 2021 |
I found this book to be an engrossing, impressive debut. I liked how this storyline concentrated on the post-Civil War years, especially from the point-of-view of women and how they were making a way in the world that is not quite sure what “freedom” means to them.

While the story does not turn away from the horrors of slavery, this story is hopeful as it focuses on their resistance and their reliance on each other.

Characters have complex lives, well-crafted prose, great tone and pacing, and well-placed twists and turns makes this a refreshing addition to the genre of historical fiction. ( )
  bookmuse56 | May 12, 2021 |
I liked this book and wanted to see where it went, but... I do agree with other reviewers who have said it is slow-moving. I did not give up because I liked the combination of historical, magic, healing, and vague paranormal aspects, as well as the characters, but it was a bit of a struggle to get through. ( )
  wordcauldron | Apr 9, 2021 |
I came to this novel looking for witches, and while I didn’t get quite what I wanted I heartily enjoyed reading this story. Delving into a poignant moment in the history of slavery in the U.S., author Atakora introduces us to Rue, a young woman tied to the healer’s past and knowledge instilled in her by her mother, to the newly freed slave community she was raised in, and to the daughter of the plantation owner who was her best friend growing up. Rue may rail against the monicker of conjure woman that (the title of the book and) her community has thrust upon her, but she can’t help but have care for the challenging people in her community no matter their faults. The story revolves around Rue’s conflict with the community over the seemingly cursed birth of Black-eyed Bean, the boy who is born with pitch black eyes and too light (and patterned) skin, but grows to explore the deeper conflicts that encompass the whole community. At times it seems like all Rue has is conflict with the world, as she quietly protests against the light-skinned preacher who visits their community, keeps secrets about the South’s loss in the Civil War, and fights to make her own place in the world separate from her mother’s legacy. Through these complexities, Atakora has woven an intriguing story that at once perfectly encapsulates a moment in time and personifies the greater struggles of the Black community, while treading on common themes that are recognizable throughout humanity. The book itself may not be one to easily capture, but its small moments of gemlike precision in storytelling provide inevitable food for thought. Like Rue, we are maybe all just trying to make our ways through the hardships of our lives, seeing too much and never enough to clearly guide us, but somehow making it through another day. ( )
  JaimieRiella | Feb 25, 2021 |
Upon finishing this book, I knew that I needed to read more books by Afia Atakora. A quick search tells me Conjure Women is actually her debut novel? All I can say to that is… wow.

Set just before, during, and after the American Civil War in the antebellum south, this striking novel tells the story of healer and slave Miss May Belle, her daughter and somewhat reluctant protege, Rue, and their master’s daughter, Varina. Rue and Varina are the same age and grow up together amidst the brutality and tragedy of slavery on a southern plantation. Secrets, lies, betrayals, magic, and spiritualism pervade the story of this community of slaves as they become free men and women and their struggles continue.

Atakora’s writing is fantastic and affecting. All of the characters are well-developed and authentic, but Rue especially stole my heart. What a beautifully complex and layered character. She’s very much a product of her life and environment , but she’s alsoindependent, smart and headstrong.

This is definitely not an easy read—as one expects, its dark, heartbreaking, and full of terribleness. It feels realistic, painful, and important, and despite all of the sadness, this book has much to offer of joy and hope. Rue, May Belle, and Varina will stick with me for a long while. ( )
  sprainedbrain | Nov 21, 2020 |
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