Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Healing by Jonathan Odell

An engrossing novel about slavery!

Mississippi plantation mistress Amanda Satterfield loses her daughter to cholera after her husband refuses to treat her for what he considers to be a “slave disease.” Insane with grief, Amanda takes a newborn slave child as her own and names her Granada, much to the outrage of her husband and the amusement of their white neighbors. Troubled by his wife’s disturbing mental state and concerned about a mysterious plague sweeping through his slave population, Master Satterfield purchases Polly Shine, a slave reputed to be a healer. But Polly’s sharp tongue and troubling predictions cause unrest across the plantation. Complicating matters further, Polly recognizes “the gift” in Granada, the mistress’s pet, and a domestic battle of wills ensues.

Seventy-five years later, Granada, now known as Gran Gran, is still living on the plantation and must revive the buried memories of her past in order to heal a young girl abandoned to her care. Together they learn the power of story to heal the body, the spirit and the soul.

Rich in mood and atmosphere, The Healing is the kind of novel readers can’t put down—and can’t wait to recommend once they’ve finished.

The Healing is a novel about an old woman named Gran Gran. The former slave lives alone in an abandoned mansion on a Southern plantation. In her youth, she worked as a midwife and healer to the slaves. Once revered for her skills, as time progressed, the respect she once enjoyed has faded away.

Lonely, she finds herself taking care of a young girl named Violet whose mother died after a botched abortion. Gran Gran shares her memories of her life as a slave on the plantation with the young girl, soothing her grief over her mother’s death. An unhinged mistress, the hardships the slaves suffered because of heartless masters, disease, sorrow, and cruel racial prejudices abounds on every page of this engrossing novel.

Moving between present and past, the author tantalizes by revealing dark secrets and mistakes. But this novel is more than a story of the South. It is a revelation about the difficulties black women faced at the hands of slaveholders - forced separation from children and family, lack of food and clothing, and their resilience to succeed despite numerous adversities.

Odell delves deep into womanhood, never shying away from poverty, rape, and horrendous abuses that were considered normal in the treatment of slaves. And he does so in a way that evokes great respect and sympathy for the women who were not only resilient, but courageous. Above all, this is a poignant novel of hope and courage that will deeply touch readers. I truly loved this book and look forward to reading future books by this very talented author.


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