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Conjure Women

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4.26  ·  Rating details ·  68 ratings  ·  40 reviews
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
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Hardcover, 416 pages
Expected publication: March 17th 2020 by Random House
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  • Conjure Women by Afia Atakora
    Conjure Women
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    Release date: Mar 17, 2020
    Enter for a chance to win one of 50 advance copies of CONJURE WOMEN by Afia Atakora, on sale March 17!

    The intimate bonds and transgressions among
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    Average rating 4.26  · 
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     ·  68 ratings  ·  40 reviews


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    Fran
    Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    "As a slave woman [Miss May Belle] made her name...by crafting curse...Hoodoo...is black folks currency...a white man would come from afar having heard of Miss May Belle's conjure, asking for cure of some affliction set upon him...by slave...by 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 ...more
    Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell

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    CONJURE 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
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    Sarah-Hope
    Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: 2020, netgalley
    Conjure Women is a richly structured novel, moving between the last years of southern slavery and the risky freedom that followed. Multiple stories play out in alteration, informing each other, as well as functioning on their own. Because I kept wanting the next part of this two-sided puzzle, I found Conjure Women a very difficult book to put down.

    Conjure Women does nothing to "whitewash" either slavery or the dangerous years after it, but it also doesn't indulge in gratuitous violence. There is
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    Grace
    Oct 27, 2019 marked it as to-read
    Thank you to Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley for the allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

    I absolutely LOVED this book! Conjure Women is Atakora's debut novel and includes elements of plantation and slavery life as well as magic, healing and all things in between. We are first introduced to Rue, who is a midwife/healer in a small town that mainly consists of recently freed slaves after the end of the Civil War. Throughout the story we gain a better
    ...more
    2TReads
    Jan 10, 2020 rated it liked it
    This book tells the story of Rue, a Conjure woman, living in a small community of former slaves. The story flashes from the present to the past and we see Rue's life growing up on a plantation and her relationship with her mother, May Belle, who teaches her everything she knows about traditional African inspired healing.

    Atakora does a very good job of highlighting the nuances of plantation life, especially when it came to the relationships of slaves, their owners (and extended family). She also
    ...more
    T.B. Caine
    Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Recommended to T.B. by: everyone I know and love
    Shelves: 2020-releases
    This book is definitely in the running for my favorite book of the year, hell I think it IS my favorite book of the year. Definite 5/5 from me.
    Thank you to Netgalley for hooking me up with an ARC of this great novel, that I don't know I would have heard of otherwise.

    'Conjure Women' follows Rue throughout her childhood and adulthood, seeing her mother being a healer and her own later attempts at trying to be the new healer. Of course nothing is easy and plot happens.

    There are a few chapters
    ...more
    Rhiannon Gallacher
    Nov 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Thank you to 4th Estate and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review. I have rated this book 3.5 stars.

    I was so excited to get my hands on this book! From the blurb it looked right up my street, ticking numerous boxes. I mean, a female-led multigenerational story spanning multiple eras all wrapped up in a ‘magnificently researched’ historical novel? Count me in!

    I am so happy to have had the privilege of reading Afia Atakora’s debut novel. It is
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    Mags
    Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    As vivid as a folktale and utterly riveting, Conjure Women is probably one of my books of the year.

    The tale of Rue (and her mother), healers/midwives and slaves. The narrative jumps between different time periods to further the story.

    Rue is an incredibly well-done character - even her more morally muddy decisions you can empathise with. All the supporting characters are vivid and well written,

    I don't want to give too much away - there's so much in here that I want people to come at fresh, with
    ...more
    O Prism
    Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Outstanding and beguiling debut novel! Atakora has pulled out all the stops in the engaging tale of life on a plantation, slavery, the Civil War, healing, magic, relationships, betrayal, and everything in between. I took my time reading this - rather than plow through it, I read a few chapters at at time - for this is a book to be savored, a unique delicacy that doesn’t come around too often. The plot centers around a mother and daughter, conjurers both, creating potions to birth, curse, wound, ...more
    Sue
    Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. Wow-this debut novel blew me away with it's originality and brilliance. It tells the tale of life on a plantation, slavery, the Civil War, healing, magic, relationships, betrayal, and everything in between. It reads like a folktale and focuses on 3 women: a white woman who is the slave's owner and 2 slaves, a mother and her daughter who are the conjure women or healers who practice hoodoo. The timeline is not linear which required ...more
    Sari
    Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    I love any historical fiction, especially centered around The Civil War and WWII. Even though these were such sad and depressing times in history, I love reading stories in that time period because it reminds me of my grandparents and great grandparents. Afia Atakora is one of those writers that will stand the test of time. This is definitely going to be one of those books in 50-100 years that we are
    ...more
    Sage Bailey
    Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
    This review was made possible thanks to Net Galley.

    I thought that if I allowed myself to wait a few hours between finishing this book and reviewing it I would be able to articulate how a book could be both anti-climatic while also very engaging; however after twelve hours of letting Conjure Women stew I still pinpoint that one specific element that makes this book worth the sum of its parts, even if you leave the table hungry (Food analogy, bear with me.)

    This is the debut novel of Afia Atakora
    ...more
    Mona  AlvaradoFrazier
    Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    First, a little about the book: Conjure Women is an American epic that spans several decades and generations. The South, before and after the Civil War, is brought vividly to life. The story focuses on three women: Miss May Belle, a wise healing woman, her daughter Rue, is 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 ...more
    Bee
    Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    I loved Conjure Women! Rue, the protagonist, is an amazing character, and I think she is a significant part of why I liked this book. She is strong and independent, but she is also vulnerable. She does what she thinks is best, but sometimes her judgment may be clouded. I enjoy complex characterization like this, and Rue’s secrets, which are slowly revealed to readers through the non-linear timeline, created a sense of momentum. There isn’t a lot of action in this book, really, but the book didn’ ...more
    Rachel
    Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Conjure Women by Afia Atakora is a haunting and mesmerizing historical fiction set in the South during the Civil War Era.

    The novel focusses on Miss May Belle and her daughter Miss Rue in rotating chapters thus also exposing the reader to two generations of African American Women during their years as slaves on a plantation, as well as the years immediately following encompassing the aftermath of “freedom”.

    There were several things that I loved about this novel.
    1. I loved the alternate
    ...more
    Joyce
    Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Could not put this book down.Stark and gritty details of slavery before and after The Civil War.
    Some of it almost painful to read but you just can’t stop.
    The story is about Rue and about her mother Maybelle,Maybelle is a healer on a plantation to the slaves and after her death Rue carried on that tradition.There is a dash of the mystical in their healing.
    This is a book to savor.I’m a speed reader and I read at a pretty fast clip but even I had to slow down and enjoy every word.
    Thankyou Netgalley
    ...more
    Christina
    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, ...more
    Lori Enterline
    Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    THIS NOVEL IS STUNNING!!!!

    It is set during a very, very dark and tragic period in our nation’s history, but the writing is breathtaking, poetic and almost other-worldly. At certain moments, it is utterly heartbreaking. At others, it is ethereal and just...beyond.
    The story follows three women living on a plantation in the South, switching back and forth between the years before and just after the Civil War, pre- and post-slavery.

    Summary:
    Conjure Women is a sweeping story that brings the world of
    ...more
    Lady Shockley
    Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Powerful debut. Atakora has written a compelling story, that of a single plantation before, during, and after the US Civil War from the perspective of a single enslaved woman, Rue. Rue is the Conjure Woman of the community, tasked with midwifery and the healing of her community, a job she inherited from mer mother, Miss May Bell.
    The story opens with Rue awakening to a chilling cry coming from a nearby cabin. This is our first introduction to Bean, so named because of his unusual eyes, which
    ...more
    mylogicisfuzzy
    Set on a Southern plantation before, during and just after American Civil War, Conjure Women deals with the meaning of freedom, faith and belonging to those who inhabit it. May Belle, a healer and conjure woman, her daughter Rue, also a healer and Varina, the daughter of Marse Charles who owns the plantation and everyone on it. The narrative moves back and forth between Slaverytime, Freedomtime and Wartime and is mainly focused on Rue, her childhood spent playing with Varina and learning from ...more
    Kira
    Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Afia Atakora's Conjure Women draws the reader into the life of a mother and her daughter in the Civil War South as they're released from slavery and begin grappling with the future, and it does so in intimate and unexpected ways. The whole novel reckons with divides - the slaves who remember being forcibly stolen from their homes, now living with children born into a new freedom; between the black slaves and the white slavers; between Rue and the plantation owner's daughter Varina; between the ...more
    Aly
    Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
    This is a very female-led book. It's very outspoken, with intense themes going on throughout nearly the entirety of the book. The writing is a bit "difficult" for lack of a better term. Sometimes I found myself having to reread sections as I didn't know what I just read. I want to say that this is magical realism, as there's something mystical also at play as we follow the story but not outright magical. It's a very good story, but I found myself having to space this out. I couldn't keep myself ...more
    Missy
    Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
    "Rue-baby" there ain't no easier lie to tell folks than the one they wanna believe."
    This book was absolutely amazing. Another one I could not put down until the end.
    Takes place in the South, before and after Civil War, on a southern plantation owned my Marse Charles, most prosperous landowner. It was more about slavery, the women and their community during slavery and after they are free. Told in different POV of the life of Miss May Belle who learned the art of hoodooing and her daughter,
    ...more
    Sally Boocock
    Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Set in the time of the American civil war it tells the story of May Belle and her daughter Rue who are both conjure women .Its flits back and forth from the time of slavery to time after the war finished but times were still hard for black people. It takes you to the heart of the south and I felt I was really on that plantation. May Belle is dead but as the story goes back and forth you learn what life was like during the war for slaves. It certainly brings this ...more
    Brandi
    Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Afia Atakora’s debut novel was such a pleasure to read. It is wonderfully written with complex female characters. The narrative is told mostly from the protagonist Rue’s point of view, with some chapters in her mother Miss. May Belle’s voice (I enjoyed these chapters a great deal) and switches between the pre and post war eras. This novel is an exploration of power and autonomy. Not only does it delve into the power dynamics when it comes to race but also when it comes to being a woman in a man’ ...more
    Leslie
    Dec 28, 2019 rated it liked it
    I really wanted to like this book more than I did. I went into it with extremely high hopes. Although I wasn't left to go crashing down, it still was as wonderful as I wanted.
    The language made it hard to follow at times. I didn't understand what was going on some times so I had to guess.
    All in all, it was an interesting story of the generations of conjure women and their trials through hards times. I am glad that I continued reading it.
    Darlene Golbitz
    Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Courtesy of NetGalley, I received an ARC of Conjure Women by Afia Atakora. This remarkable debut novel is set on a plantation around the Civil War era, centered on strong women characters and the implications of "hoodoo", herbal knowledge, and healing powers. Well researched, the story is compelling with several unforeseen twists, and the dialect is perfectly written. I was totally drawn into this story!
    Rose
    Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
    I haven't read many books that take place during the civil war south, so I found this book interesting. It wasn't so much about "conjure women" as I'd hoped but more about the lives of women slaves and their ties together. However, that was okay it was still a good read that pulled you jnto the story.

    I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy free of charge. This is my honest and unbiased opinion of it.
    Chelsea Kapaun
    Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
    This book has an incredibly strong voice, and a unique one at that. You are transported to the plantation of Rue's life and are given an inside view into the interconnectedness of all life in the world of the plantation. The racial interweaving and surprising implications of crossed invisible lines makes for a great read. This is a story that needed to be told and Afia Atakora should be on your list of authors to watch.
    Jacqueline
    Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: netgalley-reads
    "...just as easy as folks' praise came, it could turn to hating. Magic and faith were fickle. Life and living were fickle. And didn't Rue know that as well as anyone?"

    Miss Rue is a conjure woman, just like her mother, Miss May Belle, before her. Through slaverytime, wartime, and freedomtime, Miss Rue ushers new lives into this world, keeps company with those lives journeying to the next, and heals everyone in between. But her role in the community, which is still stabilizing after its freedom
    ...more
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