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.
Some of the recent comments posted about The Healing. Join the discussion! You can see the full discussion here.
Double Standards in Slavery....
I think it was a power play more than anything. The experts say that rape is more about power over another human being than about love or affection or even pleasure. So, I suspect that the white masters sleeping with their female slaves is just... - gwendolyndawson
How does Polly change Granada?
Polly taught Granada how to be a contributing member of society. Before Polly arrived, Granada was a self-absorbed little girl. She had been protected from the normal labor of the slave. Granada even balked when it was suggested that she assist... - terryd
In your opinion, is Polly Shine good or bad?
Polly had gumption she was am independent woman that stood by her beliefs. The change that she brought to the plantation was amazing. Her strength was in being strong and not doing what she was told but telling what was needed. This can come across... - tracyb
Jon Odell answers questions about "The Healing"
Jon posted an answer to the question about the book jacket in the discussion topic linked in the post above. His answer is cross-posted here for other people's interest:
I was asked to offer my comments about the cover. The artist is African... - admin
Such an intriguing cover...
It is interesting to read everyone's take on the cover art. Many different ideas- which is how it should be.
I think that is what real art does- it allows a personal connection and interpretation. Sometimes it's an emotional feeling, a memory... - jeann
Video Interview & Book Trailer
The most incredible thing to me was keeping in mind a 21st century white man could write so poignantly about this period in history, told totally from black slaves' perspective. I will not forget The Healing with all its wonderful characters, and... - cherylk
What is the significance of the title?
Granada is healed by Polly. Polly helps her to discover herself and find her value. Granada was under the impression that she was accepted as an equal by her mistress. Polly helped her to see who she really was. - trezelineb
What role does storytelling play in The Healing?
Storytelling is how the community remembers...their lives before slavery, during slavery and after slavery. It is the glue that binds families and the community as a whole. As the newer generations become modern, they begin to forget the stories... - jww
Whether or not this is possible - if a group of people can heal, can reclaim identity when it has been brutally stripped from them and then cruelly withheld - is one of the central questions of the novel. In this way, The Healing becomes much more than a historical fiction novel set in the antebellum South. As it contemplates how people are repatriated into their dormant identities, the novel ruminates on the ways in which people define themselves and whether it is possible to heal the horrors of the past to embrace the opportunities of the future. The Healing is a tremendously powerful novel and one of the best I have read in quite some time. Jonathan Odell has created a masterpiece. (Reviewed by Sarah Sacha Dollacker).
Shelf Awareness, Valerie Ryan
Jonathan Odell finds the right words, using the language of the day, its idiom and its music to great advantage in a compelling work that can stand up to The Help in the pantheon of Southern literature.
Odell (The View from Delphi, 2004) stirs lyricism and sentiment into a well-researched epic of slavery and emancipation that will endear itself to the spirituality inclined.
Bringing exciting verisimilitude to an overworked genre, this Southern saga from Odell is rich in character and incident but suffers from an awkward generation-bridging flashback structure.
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 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 is 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.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by mainlinebooker Run to the store If I could give this book a 6, that would be well earned. Quite simply,I adored this book which explored slavery and subjugation in a prose so lyrical and moving that I heard the characters lilt in every phrase I read. I was also so astonished at... Read More
Rated of 5
by Debra The Healing I really enjoyed this book from beginning to end. It was sweet, funny, and sad. You know a book is great when that happens. I loved the way the story unfolded, and thought the author did a good job of developing characters relevant to the time... Read More
Rated of 5
by Jeanette The Healing I read The Healing in two sittings it is a fascinating story of plantation life at the beginning of the Civil War. Granada, a slave newborn child whom the plantation mistress takes from the slave mother to fill-in her grief over the lost of her own... Read More
Rated of 5
by Grace The Healing: A Novel Rich in description, The Healing:A Novel is an engaging and poignant book, full of heart and wisdom. Jonathan Odell is an extraordinary storyteller, and this is a wonderful book.
Rated of 5
by Diane S. The Healing by Jonathan Odell What an amazing and magical read. I absolutely loved it and so did not want it to end. It is the eve of the Civil War, on a large plantation in Mississippi and the master pays a unprecedented sum of money for a woman slave said to be a healer.... Read More
Rated of 5
by jw A true healing The best book I read in 2011. 'The Healing' is a healing in itself and so much more than expected in story line and characters. Absolutely terrific book. Way beyond 'The Help' and other stories about African-American women. The greatest... Read More
Polly Shine's arrival at the Satterfield's plantation is a remarkable sight to the slaves in Jonathan Odell's The Healing as she was a "bought" slave, not bred on the plantation, and she was a costly purchase. Their astonishment continues when, soon after her arrival, she starts to give orders regarding the slaves' health and the Master goes along with them. While slave healers were relatively common in the antebellum South, it was unusual for an owner to encourage one. According to Working Cures: Healing, Health and Power on Southern Slave Plantations (which Odell says he relied on heavily for his research) white doctors usually treated plantation slaves. Indeed some doctors specialized in slaves just as a vet today might specialize in treating livestock; and just like a farm vet today, a doctor treating a slave would focus his attention on the slave-owner's business objectives. In short, the doctor's priorities were to increase endurance, resale value and yield (live births). The emotional...
In the midst of the American Civil War, a southern plantation owner's wife is arrested by her husband and declared insane for interfering with his slaves. She is sent to an island mental asylum to come to terms with her wrongdoing, but instead finds love and escape with a war-haunted Confederate soldier.
This is a story about men whose lives began in slavery, who weathered the Civil War; newly freed men who have to fight for their liberties, hoping the federal government will come to their aid. But after a deadly racial massacre, once-proud families are left to deal with the wreckage and find the strength to push on.
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