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The Healing

Cover of The Healing

The Healing

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"Compelling, tragic, comic, tender and mystical... Combines the historical significance of Kathryn Stockett's The Help with the wisdom of Toni Morrison's Beloved." --Minneapolis Star Tribune

Rich in mood and atmosphere, The Healing is a warmhearted novel about the unbreakable bonds between three generations of female healers and their power to restore the body, the spirit, and the soul.

In Antebellum Mississippi, Granada Satterfield has the mixed fortune to be born on the same day that her plantation mistress's daughter, Becky, dies of cholera. Believing that the newborn possesses some of her daughter's spirit, the Mistress Amanda adopts Granada, dolling her up in Becky's dresses and giving her a special place in the family despite her husband's protests. But when The Master brings a woman named Polly Shine to help quell the debilitating plague that is sweeping through the slave quarters, Granada's life changes. For Polly sees something in the young girl, a spark of "The Healing," and a domestic battle of wills begins, one that will bring the two closer but that will ultimately lead to a great tragedy. And seventy-five years later, Granada, still living on the abandoned plantation long after slavery ended, must revive the buried memories before history repeats itself.

Inspirational and suspenseful, The Healing is the kind of historical fiction readers can't put down--and can't wait to recommend once they've finished.

"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." --The Associated Press



From the Hardcover edition.

"Compelling, tragic, comic, tender and mystical... Combines the historical significance of Kathryn Stockett's The Help with the wisdom of Toni Morrison's Beloved." --Minneapolis Star Tribune

Rich in mood and atmosphere, The Healing is a warmhearted novel about the unbreakable bonds between three generations of female healers and their power to restore the body, the spirit, and the soul.

In Antebellum Mississippi, Granada Satterfield has the mixed fortune to be born on the same day that her plantation mistress's daughter, Becky, dies of cholera. Believing that the newborn possesses some of her daughter's spirit, the Mistress Amanda adopts Granada, dolling her up in Becky's dresses and giving her a special place in the family despite her husband's protests. But when The Master brings a woman named Polly Shine to help quell the debilitating plague that is sweeping through the slave quarters, Granada's life changes. For Polly sees something in the young girl, a spark of "The Healing," and a domestic battle of wills begins, one that will bring the two closer but that will ultimately lead to a great tragedy. And seventy-five years later, Granada, still living on the abandoned plantation long after slavery ended, must revive the buried memories before history repeats itself.

Inspirational and suspenseful, The Healing is the kind of historical fiction readers can't put down--and can't wait to recommend once they've finished.

"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." --The Associated Press



From the Hardcover edition.
Available formats-
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    8
  • Library copies:
    9
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    5.6
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Text Difficulty:
    4

Recommended for you


Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    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 Master Ben names...

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-
  • 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.

  • 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."
  • Kathleen Grissom, author of The Kitchen House "Jonathan Odell gives voice to strong women at a time in history when their strength might have been their undoing. When Polly Shine's fierce knowledge comes up against Granada's stubborn resistance, the reader is held captive as the two attempt to resolve their conflict and Granada is made to face her destiny. This moving story is a must-read for fans of historical fiction."
  • Robin Oliveira, author of My Name if Mary Sutter "The Healing is a moving cri de coeur for all those who yearn to be free, and for the wise women among us who understand that to subjugate one person is to subjugate all of humanity."
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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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