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Conjure Women

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  194 ratings  ·  125 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
Hardcover, 416 pages
Expected publication: April 7th 2020 by Random House
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Afia Atakora Thank you for the lovely note! And you're right, the foxes do symbolize the natural world. Foxes are a common antagonist in African-American folk…moreThank you for the lovely note! And you're right, the foxes do symbolize the natural world. Foxes are a common antagonist in African-American folk stories & trickster tales. The smaller, less powerful character, often portrayed by a rabbit, must use its wits to outsmart its master. These folktales sometimes end in the rabbit's triumph, other times in the rabbit being caught up in its own trap. In Conjure Women, Miss May Belle has a similar tenuous control over the foxes, and over her own fate as a slave.(less)

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Diane S ☔
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A powerful debut novel by this author.
The story is about emancipated slaves continuing to live on the plantation theyve 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
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
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"As a slave woman [Miss May Belle] made her crafting 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 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
Chaima ✨ شيماء
self-care? do you perhaps mean adding books with gorgeous covers to your TBR list?
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, 2020
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
Feb 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 masters daughter, Varina. Rue and Varina are the same age and grow up together amidst the brutality and
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
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that meanders through time, characters and stories which are rich and gorgeously written. It was easy to get lot in them and enjoy each for what it was communicating and portraying, telling the stories of the same characters both before the Civil War and then after. Then, at some point, you suddenly realize these stories are the pieces of one big puzzle you didn't even realize were clicking right into place. Once you get that, it's a race to get to the end. Really. You can't turn ...more
Powerful & vivid magical realism in a heartbreaking era of our history, wow!

Conjure Women is a lyrical character-wise debut. Rue is at the center of this story; shes coming-of-age and learning to be a midwife from her mom, May Belle. They are the Conjure Women on the southern plantation where they are enslaved. Mystical natural elements are revealed in vivid scenes as Rue searches for medicinal plants and mysterious foxes wonder the woods. With compelling insight into human nature,
Renee (The B-Roll)
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book follows several African slaves, both women and families, and their white owners, in both the antebellum and Civil War-era United States on a specific plantation in the South over several spans of time.  This story is told from a very diverse timeline, as it jumps back and forth between slavery time and war time, but later as the narrative changes the timeline also changes.  We learn about Miss May Belle who is the local healer and witch, along with her daughter Rue.  Both women, ...more
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
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I had to take a break from reading this, with so much going on in the world at the moment I definitely had a hard time focusing on such a heavy read. I finished Conjure Women today and wow. The writing is SO WELL DONE. SO COMPELLING. It's hard not to keep turning the pages it just flowed so well. The story was brilliantly written and so engaging. [Thank you so much Penguin Random House for the gifted copy]

Right now I'm sitting at a 4 star, while it was so engaging and hard to put down it was
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
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
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 Atakoras debut novel. It is
Margarita (margaritathedrink)
This was one book I was very excited to receive through NetGalley and Random House

Conjure Women showed elements of slavery and the plantation along with magic. This story happens after the civil war and you get to know more about Rue throughout the story. there are flashbacks from when Rue was little growing up on the plantation with her mother who was a midwife and healer. Her mother taught her everything she knew about spiritual healing. I really enjoyed Rue's moms storyline a lot. Even with
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
Mar 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cover-lust, arcs
⭐⭐⭐⭐ of five stars
Thank you @netgally and Random House for giving me an ARC for an honest review.
Publication date: April 7th
This book was a dream! The writing style is stunning. The characters were well developed and the plot was intriguing to the point that I couldnt put it down if I tired. I thought this book was so well written - then finding out that this is a debut novel!! I am very impressed!
Synopsis: We are following the lives of women that live on a plantation; a healer and slave,
Mar 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Look for my review in the August issue of the Historical Novels Review.
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This book is haunting, sad, and impactful. It was a graphic and difficult read, but also a very thought provoking and powerful story.
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 doesnt come around too often. The plot centers around a mother and daughter, conjurers both, creating potions to birth, curse, wound, ...more
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
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
Biblio Bushra
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Link to review:

Since reading Little Women, Conjure Women is the only other book Ive read set around the American Civil War. It will come as a surprise that this is Afia Atakoras debut novel given her ability to write so evocatively about historical fiction.

The story revolves around Rue, daughter of Miss May Belle who is a reputable conjure woman and midwife. Both mother and daughter are enslaved on a plantation in the American South where they suffer
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
*This book was received as part of the Amazon Vine Program.

Once I got into this book I had a hard time putting it down. I read the majority of it in an evening and found it engrossing and surprising at some of the twists and turns.

Conjure Women follows the story of two women. The first, Rue, is a healer/midwife/conjurer who is living life as best as possible after the end of Civil War and the finding of a new way of a life. The other woman is her mother, May Belle, and takes place before the
Feb 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
The story of the Conjure Women weaves its way through several timelines before, during and after the Civil War following a family of women on a plantation. One woman is an honored healer using the old ways, the second her daughter caught between learning the old ways and reconciling the pressures of Christianity around her and the third, the daughter of the plantation owner.

The characters are rich and deep. They struggle with life during the days of slavery and then trying to figure out what
Abby Suzanne
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I devoured Conjure Women by Afia Atakora. I don't know what it is about this one that I enjoyed so much, but I found Rue's character to be so interesting, easy to love, and easy to read about. Mama Doe was also such a good character- I wish she'd been featured in the book more. Sarah and Brother Allen were also big hits for me, as was little Bean. I could've done without Varina, but he role in the story was so integral and the messaging Atakora conveyed through Varina was gold. I especially ...more
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is my first Netgalley request and if they all grab me like this I may have to file a complaint. Really though, the mystery was there in the first few chapters and had me hooked straight away. 400+ pages flew by.

It is incredibly powerful with immersive world building. I could really feel the connections between the characters, particularly Rue and Bean.
Stacey Bene
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway and Im so glad. This isnt something I would have picked up off the the shelf, but it was a great story. I love Civil War era stories and this one didnt disappoint. ...more
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