Conjure Women

An Amazon Best Book of April 2020
Rue has secrets. The young midwife and all-around healer in a town of freed black slaves, Rue knows the personal stories hidden inside her neighbors’ walls, and the townspeople trust her discretion. But Rue also holds darker knowledge about the burned-out plantation that enslaved them and about Varina, the planation’s dead heiress. As Afia Atakora’s historical novel slides forward and backward in time in episodes labeled Slaverytime, Wartime, Freedomtime, or the Ravaging, Atakora juggles the puzzle pieces of Rue’s life, revealing portions here and there until finally the last few—and very dramatic—pieces click into place. Evocative and sometimes dreamlike writing, hollowing moments of crisis, and an iron-spined young woman who ignites the page make this debut novel one to savor and then pass to your favorite fellow reader. —Adrian Liang, Amazon Book Review

A 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 freedom.

Magnificently 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.

Praise for Conjure Women

“[A] haunting, promising debut . . . Through complex characters and bewitching prose, Atakora offers a stirring portrait of the power conferred between the enslaved women. This powerful tale of moral ambiguity amid inarguable injustice stands with Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“An engrossing debut . . . Atakora structures a plot with plenty of satisfying twists. Life in the immediate aftermath of slavery is powerfully rendered in this impressive first novel.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Afia Atakora brings the Civil War South to life so beautifully with Conjure Women, a heartbreaking joy to read.”—Martha Hall Kelly, New York Times bestselling author of Lilac Girls

“If you are grieving for Toni Morrison, Afia Atakora is the young writer to read now: the kind of historical novelist who makes you believe she must have somehow seen the places she describes and known these characters herself. Her astonishing debut takes the reader to a Reconstruction-era Southern plantation, where two little girls—the enslaved child of the local healer and the planter’s cloistered daughter—become unlikely friends. Conjure Women illuminates an unfamiliar corner of Civil War history and brings to life an indelible character whose talents, from midwifery to voodoo, will yield her own unconventional path to power and freedom.”—Nell Freudenberger, author of Lost and Wanted

“[An] affecting story.”Newsweek 

“In Conjure Women Afia Atakora masterfully centers two generations of women, folk healers who carry the secrets of their community while bearing the brunt of its antebellum past and its reconstructed present. Telling a gripping story at once grand and intimate, Atakora renders humanity in all its beautiful fits and flaws. Page after page, her voice announces itself like a thunderclap. The women in this novel will blessedly stick with you long after the last word has been read.”—Caleb Johnson, author of Treeborne

“Secrets, heartache, and healing fill this story spanning two generations of women living in the South before and after the Civil War. Atakora’s writing grips you from the first page of this soon-to-be-published novel. It’s no surprise that she is being hailed as a successor to Toni Morrison.”—The Week

“Conjure Women is a beautifully written novel that explores bondage and freedom through the lives of vividly drawn women who will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page. Afia Atakora is a writer of extraordinary talent and depth, and this spellbinding debut is a must-read.”—Anissa Gray, author of The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls

“Richly imagined and elegantly rendered, Conjure Women transports us into the lives of powerfully determined women. Their intricate web of secrets will keep you turning its pages. Ambitious, hypnotic, not quite devastating, Conjure Women marks the arrival of a major new voice.”—Chinelo Okparanta, author of Under the Udala Trees and Happiness, Like Water

“Atakora paces her novel beautifully, slowly unwinding the plot in unexpected ways as she examines a relatively unexplored aspect of American history.”BookPage (starred review)

“Deftly interwoven and emotionally involving . . . Atakora effectively handles the before-during-and-after structure, enriching her story. . . . Highly recommended.”Library Journal (starred review)

Weight 0.700 kg
ISBN

978-0525511489

Year Published

2020

Pages

416

Format

Paperback

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