I am finally posting my thoughts on this book. Truth be told, I think I was so intimidated by the beauty of this novel that I didn’t know what the heck to say about it, but here goes…..
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.
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.
I truly can’t list all of the things I appreciate about this novel. There’s powerful symbolism laced throughout. The characters, as well as the themes, have such wonderful depth and complexity, and the details of the time period are intricate and interesting, yet the story MOVES. I never once felt a moment of boredom; I was hooked from the very first page.
Amidst a suspenseful and gripping story, there’s an exploration of identity, individualism, community, faith, superstition, conformism and — most of all — freedom. What is the cost of freedom? What is the weight of freedom? And are any of us truly free?
Although the writing style is very different, I couldn’t help but think of Kazuo Ishiguro as I read this. I think this is because one theme this book explores is the pain people must endure due to the confining roles and expectations of the society they were born into.
I am going to reread this at some point because I am sure that there are things I missed in the first reading.
I highly, HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone who likes historical fiction or just has a pulse and a heart. Trust me, you will be moved by it. This novel is sublime.
I HUGE thank you to Random House for the ARC.