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Publisher's Summary

A mother and daughter with a shared talent for healing - and for the conjuring of curses - are at the heart of this dazzling first novel

Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize • Named one of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times • NPR • Parade Book RiotPopMatters

"Lush, irresistible... It took me into the hearts of women I could otherwise never know. I was transported." (Amy Bloom, New York Times best-selling author of White Houses and Away)

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.

Praise for Conjure Women

"[A] haunting, promising debut... Through complex characters and bewitching prose, Atakora offers a stirring portrait of the power conferred between the enslaved women. This powerful tale of moral ambiguity amid inarguable injustice stands with Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black." (Publishers Weekly starred review)

"An engrossing debut... Atakora structures a plot with plenty of satisfying twists. Life in the immediate aftermath of slavery is powerfully rendered in this impressive first novel." (Kirkus Reviews starred review)

©2020 Afia Atakora (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Afia Atakora brings the Civil War South to life so beautifully with Conjure Women, a heartbreaking joy to read." (Martha Hall Kelly, New York Times best-selling author of Lilac Girls)

"If you are grieving for Toni Morrison, Afia Atakora is the young writer to read now: the kind of historical novelist who makes you believe she must have somehow seen the places she describes and known these characters herself. Her astonishing debut takes the reader to a Reconstruction-era Southern plantation, where two little girls - the enslaved child of the local healer and the planter’s cloistered daughter - become unlikely friends. Conjure Women illuminates an unfamiliar corner of Civil War history and brings to life an indelible character whose talents, from midwifery to voodoo, will yield her own unconventional path to power and freedom." (Nell Freudenberger, author of Lost and Wanted)

"In Conjure Women Afia Atakora masterfully centers two generations of women, folk healers who carry the secrets of their community while bearing the brunt of its antebellum past and its reconstructed present. Telling a gripping story at once grand and intimate, Atakora renders humanity in all its beautiful fits and flaws. Page after page, her voice announces itself like a thunderclap. The women in this novel will blessedly stick with you long after the last word has been read." (Caleb Johnson, author of Treeborne)

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What listeners say about Conjure Women

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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Conjure Women

I was really holding my breath at the beginning, waiting anxiously for the plot. But it never really materialized in the way I would have liked. it's a great historical fiction story, but there was far too much fluff and description in every chapter, not enough real substance.

7 people found this helpful

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slow read.. left me wondering at the end.

Confusing...hard to follow. left me hanging at the end. not recommended. Not enough story line.

3 people found this helpful

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So valuable and enlightening

Recommend this enlightening story to bring to life the realities of Black lives and race relations.

2 people found this helpful

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Good but wanting

I truly enjoyed this book , but I wanted a little more insights into the lives and experiences of the characters.

1 person found this helpful

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Liked but did not love

Read for book club not the era of historical fiction i like to read. At times difficult to follow switching from.past to present.

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Excellent read

Loved it. Great characterizations. You grew to experience the characters and suffer their troubles and their joys.
Well worth the read.

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If you love history

This is story define rich vivid history with diversity of different character struggles. A must read.

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I couldnt get passed the narrator's voice.

I couldnt get passed the narrator's voice. I tried many times to get into it.

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good read

sad existence i felt the narrative was well done and the story captivates. No one triumphs except for one.

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A great plot about family and community

I thought this book described the characters, their development, and their familial relationships really well.The plot was always busy, although at times confusing because so much was happening. The book overall was enticing and kept me engaged.