Sunday, August 5, 2012

Book 33 - The Healing by Jonathan Odell

When Amanda Satterfield, the plantation mistress, loses her daughter, she goes insane with grief. She literally loses her mind and while in the middle of her psychotic break, she steals an infant from one of her slaves, names the baby girl Granada, and clothes her in her daughter's clothes at public events, much to the chagrin, embarrassment and ever increasing wrath of her husband. In the hopes of curing his wife of her psychosis, the plantation owner purchases a slave by the name of Polly Shine. Polly is a healer woman - a midwife - whose reputation has preceded her and who quickly becomes revered on the plantation. Polly quickly recognizes that Granada has the "gift" - the same one that Polly has and which makes her a powerful healer. Polly demands that Grenada be sent to her to train and is granted that demand.

Odell is a tremendously good writer. He is subtle and his character development is phenomenal. I felt that I was immersed in the life of this plantation because his writing made me use all of my senses in imagining what was going on as the story unfolded. What I also had and have the most respect for is that Odell based the character of Polly and Granada on oral histories that he read extensively before beginning to write. The fact that Odell spent so much time with the actual words of the women and the men that experienced these miseries first hand was wonderful and admirable and made the novel that much more authentic. I was disappointed when the novel ended because I wanted to learn more about what happened to the people that I met along the way. Hopefully Odell will be publishing much more in the future and will use the same level of care and consideration and empathy that he used in this novel.

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