Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Healing by Jonathan Odell

"Like The Help, that showstopping work by Kathryn Stockett, The Healing is another Mississippi-born work of art, and Odell's Polly Shine is a character for the ages."  This quote by Pat Conroy on the cover of the book is about one of the main characters.  And I admit, she was my favorite character as well.  Full of back woods wisdom about herbs and remedies and the source of some of my favorite quotes from the book.  "Sometimes when you look at a person all you see is the tangle and you miss the weave."  Or this one:  "A flapping tongue puts out the light of wisdom."

Odell's beautiful historical novel illustrates the connective power of story to heal body, mind, and community.  Rich in mood and atmosphere, this story about the unbreakable bonds between three generations of female healers is a marvelous book of reverberating beauty.

Plantation mistress Amanda Satterfield's grief over the loss of her daughter crosses over into madness.  She takes a newborn slave child as her own and names her Granada.  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 woman reputed to be a healer.  But Polly's sharp tongue and troubling predictions cause unrest.  Polly recognizes "the gift" in Granada, and a domestic battle of wills ensues .  Seventy-five years later, Granada, now known as Gran Gran, must revive the buried memories of her past in order to heal a young girl abandoned to her care.

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