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The Healing

Cover of The Healing

The Healing

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The pre-Civil War South comes brilliantly to life in this masterfully written novel about a mysterious and charismatic healer readers won't soon forget

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.
This download includes a 30-minute bonus feature.

The pre-Civil War South comes brilliantly to life in this masterfully written novel about a mysterious and charismatic healer readers won't soon forget

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.
This download includes a 30-minute bonus feature.

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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    1847

    Ella was awake when she heard the first timid knock at the cabin door. Her husband, who lay beside her on the corn-shuck mattress, snored undisturbed. She kept still as well, not wanting to wake the newborn that slept in the crook of her arm. The baby had cried most of the night and had only just settled into a fitful sleep. Ella couldn't blame the girl for being miserable. The room was intolerably hot.

    Like everybody else in the quarter, Ella believed the cholera was carried by foul nocturnal vapors arising from the surrounding swamp, so she and Thomas kept their shutters and doors closed tight against the night air, doing their best to protect their daughter from the killing disease that had already taken so many.

    The rapping on the door became more insistent. Ella pushed against Thomas with her foot. On the second shove he awoke with a snort.

    "Thomas! See to the door," she whispered, "and mind Yewande."

    Wearing only a pair of cotton trousers, Thomas eased himself from the bed and crossed the room. He lifted the bar and pulled open the door, but his broad muscled back blocked the visitors' faces. From the flickering glare cast around her husband, Ella could tell one of the callers held a lantern.

    "Thomas," came the familiar voice, "get Ella up."

    Ella started at the words. It was Sylvie, the master's cook. The woman lived all the way up at the mansion and would have no good reason to be out this time of night unless it was something bad.

    "Now?" Thomas whispered. "She's sleeping."

    "She needs to carry her baby up to the master's house," Sylvie said. "Ella got to make haste on it. Mistress Amanda is waiting on her."

    "What she wanting with my woman and child in the dead of night?" Ella heard the alarm rising in her husband's voice.

    "Thomas, you know it ain't neither night nor day for Mistress Amanda. She ain't slept a wink since the funeral. And she's grieving particular bad tonight. Her medicine don't calm her down no more. She ain't in no mood to be trifled with."

    "Old Silas," Thomas pled to another unseen caller, "you tell the mistress that Ella will come by tomorrow, early in the morning." Then he dropped his voice to a hush. "You know the mistress ain't right in her head."

    Old Silas had more pull than anybody with the master, but from the lack of response, Ella imagined Silas's gray head, weathered skin stretched tight over his skull, shaking solemnly.

    Thomas let go a deep breath and then turned back to his wife. Behind him, Ella could hear the talk as it continued between the couple outside.

    "You know good and well she didn't say to fetch Ella," Old Silas whispered harshly to his wife. "Just the baby, she said. What's in your head?"

    "Shush!" Aunt Sylvie fussed. "You didn't see what I seen. I know what I'm doing."

    Ella met them at the door holding the swaddled infant. Not yet fourteen, Ella wore a ripped cotton shift cut low for nursing, and even in the heat of the cabin, she trembled. The yellow light lit the faces of the cook and her husband.

    "What she want with Yewande?" Ella whimpered. "What she going to do to my baby?"

    "Ella, she ain't going to hurt your baby," Sylvie assured. "Mistress wouldn't do that for the world."

    "But why—"

    Old Silas reached out and laid a gentle hand on Ella's shoulder. "I expect she wants to name your girl, is all." His voice was firm but comforting. He spoke more like the master than any slave. "That right, Sylvie?"

    "Of course!" Sylvie said, as if hearing the explanation for the first time. "I expect that's all it is. Mistress Amanda wants to name your girl."

    "But...

About the Author-
  • JONATHAN ODELL is the author of the acclaimed novel The View from Delphi, which deals with the struggle for equality in pre-civil rights Mississippi, his home state. His short stories and essays have appeared in numerous collections. He spent his business career as a leadership coach to Fortune 500 companies and currently resides in Minnesota.

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Gran Gran Satterfield was born a slave and learned to be a healer and midwife at her master's command. By the 1930s, Gran Gran is alone, her doctoring services rarely in demand. When a newly orphaned girl is left on her doorstep badly in need of healing, the old woman begins to remember her past. Adenrele Ojo's mesmerizing narration is perfectly suited to this complex novel about the interplay among remembering, storytelling, self-identity, and freedom. Through slight shifts of tone and accent, Ojo differentiates Gran Gran's narration from characters' dialogue and infuses her reading with a welcome level of drama. Listeners are treated to a fascinating author's note, which includes a recorded interview with an elderly black midwife who talks about traditional methods of childbirth. C.B.L. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 3, 2011
    Bringing exciting verisimilitude to an overworked genre, this Southern saga from Odell (The View from Delphi) is rich in character and incident, but suffers from an awkward generation-bridging flashback structure. In the 1930s, elderly former slave Granada—a longtime midwife and healer—lives in the old kitchen of the once-imposing Satterfield Plantation and takes in Violet, a terrified seven-year-old. To soothe the girl’s nerves and to explain the legion of mysterious clay masks that fill the dilapidated mansion, Granada tells stories about her past, launching a series of vividly imagined, but momentum-destroying, scenes of pre–Civil War plantation life. As a young girl, Granada first served Amanda Satterfield (the opium-addled plantation mistress) as a house servant, plaything, and instrument to embarrass her husband. After the arrival of Polly Shine—a healer purchased to treat the slaves—Granada is banished from the big house and sent as a reluctant apprentice to Polly’s four-room hospital. The relationship between the two women evolves in predictable but engaging fashion. Despite the novel’s nuanced characters, Odell insists on uniting the two time lines with a hokey stab at significance toward the end. Had Odell allowed his vibrant characters to guide the narrative, rather than relying on a clichéd plot structure, this might have been a small Southern masterpiece.

  • The Associated Press

    "A remarkable rite-of-passage novel with an unforgettable character ... The Healing transcends any clichés of the genre with its captivating, at times almost lyrical, prose; its firm grasp of history; vivid scenes; and vital, fully realized people, particularly the slaves with their many shades of color and modes of survival."

  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution "A storytelling tour de force."
  • Minneapolis Star Tribune "Compelling, tragic, comic, tender and mystical ... This is a beautiful book, well crafted and textured. It combines the historical significance of Kathryn Stockett's The Help with the wisdom of Toni Morrison's Beloved."
  • New York Post "Odell has written one of those beautiful Southern tales with unforgettable characters. Required reading."
  • Burlington Times-News "A gripping, beautiful, and moving tale ... Add it to your summer reading list -- you'll be glad that you did."
  • Tuscaloosa News "A real page turner."
  • Library Journal, starred review "Engrossing ... Bound to be compared to Kathryn Stockett's best-selling The Help, this historical novel probes complex issues of freedom and slavery."
  • Pat Conroy, author of The Prince of Tides and South of Broad "A terrific novel that will take its place in the distinguished pantheon of Southern fiction. 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."
  • Lalita Tademy, author of Cane River, an Oprah's Book Club selection, and Red River "Jonathan Odell won me over with his fresh take on an 1860's Mississippi plantation, and the connective power of story to heal body, mind and community. Long after closing the novel's final pages, I'm still marveling about Polly Shine, an inventively subversive slave healer, and a character I won't soon forget."
  • Valerie Martin, author of the Orange Prize winning novel Property "When the young slave Granada Satterfield reluctantly undertakes a quest to recover her own identity, she finds that she must begin by seeking the answers to two questions: Who are my people and what are their stories? Jonathan Odell's compelling new novel The Healing is a lyrical parable, rich with historical detail and unflinching in the face of disturbing facts."
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