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Remembrance: Book summary and reviews of Remembrance by Rita Woods

Remembrance

by Rita Woods

Remembrance by Rita Woods X
Remembrance by Rita Woods
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2020
    416 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Remembrance by Rita Woods is a breakout debut with modern resonance, perfect for the many fans of The Underground Railroad and Orphan Train.

Remembrance…It's a rumor, a whisper passed in the fields and veiled behind sheets of laundry. A hidden stop on the underground road to freedom, a safe haven protected by more than secrecy…if you can make it there.

Ohio, present day. An elderly woman who is more than she seems warns against rising racism as a young woman grapples with her life.

Haiti, 1791, on the brink of revolution. When the slave Abigail is forced from her children to take her mistress to safety, she discovers New Orleans has its own powers.

1857 New Orleansa city of unrest: Following tragedy, house girl Margot is sold just before her 18th birthday and her promised freedom. Desperate, she escapes and chases a whisper.... Remembrance.

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. The novel opens with Gaelle's dream, evoking the tragic memory of the earthquake that destroyed her family. Discuss the memories that are woven into the novel's title, Remembrance. How is the act of remembrance passed between Gaelle's ancestors? How has remembrance been communicated from one generation to the next in your family?
  2. At the beginning of Part Two, we read about the day Abigail and her sister were captured near their village in Africa. How did Abigail find the will and the courage to survive?
  3. What did the novel teach you about the Haitian Revolution? If you were Hercule, would you have become a Maroon? In what ways can fiction help us understand the truth about actual historical events? In the novel and in real life, how ...

You can see the full discussion here. This discussion will contain spoilers!

Some of the recent comments posted about Remembrance:

Abigail takes a wooden disk from Hercule's shop to remember him by. Do you have physical remembrances of a loved one or event you keep handy?
I have many mementos from family past. Everything from furniture handed down in the family to more personal items like jewelry. One of my prized possessions is a buckeye that my father always carried in his pocket. - taking.mytime

Abigail thinks that she was a coward because she left her children in Haiti rather than killing them, so "they would never again know fear or sadness...." Do you agree? What do you think you would have done in her shoes?
Abigail was a giver not a taker. She could never have killed her children - before doing that she would have stayed in Haiti. Leaving them behind gave them a chance and I am sure she hoped that in the future they could some how be reunited. - taking.mytime

At first, Margot dismisses Veronique's offer to help her escape through the Underground Railroad. How would you have responded? Would you have trusted Ned?
In that day and age you could barely trust your own relatives, so no I would not have trusted Ned. That is why so many did not attempt to run or use the Underground Railroad. Most slaves knew about it, but never thought that they were capable or even... - taking.mytime

At the beginning of Part Two, we read about the day Abigail and her sister were captured near their village in Africa. How do you think Abigail was able to find the will and the courage to survive?
When you are in a dire situation you often do not have the ability to make a choice as to living or dying. Your adrenaline kicks in and your flight or fight instinct takes over. Your desire to live will overpower you and you will fight to live no ... - taking.mytime

Did you think one of the women had a more useful talent than the others? Do you know someone who has an unexplained talent? If you could choose a supernatural ability, what would it be?
Usually it is women who have super natural talents. However in my family it seemed to be the men. My paternal great grandfather could predict future events. My father could heal minor things - like scratches and rashes and the removal of warts. I ... - taking.mytime

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"This book deserves to be a breakout hit. Woods's magical realist take on the black female experience will have huge appeal to readers of Marlon James and Tara Conklin." - Library Journal (starred review)

"Despite a few rookie missteps, the novel's originality makes it worth reading." - Kirkus Reviews

"Woods' writing is assured, the historical settings vivid, and her characters fully realized. Hand this to fans of Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing and Octavia Butler's Kindred, who will appreciate this complex, genre-blending debut." - Booklist

"Fine attention to sensory details and brutal honesty concerning the horrors of slavery and racial relations over more than two centuries of American history make this a standout." - Publishers Weekly

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Reader Reviews

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Jan H.

Absolutely outstanding
Just finished reading this debut book by Dr. Rita Woods. It is unlike any other I've read. It is historical fiction, from a different perspective - that of former slaves, some with powers beyond understanding. The writing is excellent, and the story is even better.

RutheH

History's Sadness
Great book for a first time author, Dr. Rita Woods. This time in history always makes me think "how could we?" Mother Abigail shows true strength to create this safe haven; Winter was amazing with her talents; Louisa was such a "b" but she knew lots of stuff; Margot compassionate yet tough and thank God for David Henry, the rescuer! All the character's are well developed, and the countryside descriptions were so vivid, the author took me there with them. I won't even say anything about "the white guys" dirty slavers! I look forward to reading Rita Woods next novel.

CarolT

Compelling
Woods has a real knack for drawing the reader in and holding her there. The characters are real and the plot is fascinating. I found myself wondering what talents I might have if I only focused better.

Linda K. (Sunset, SC)

Remembrance
For fans of historical based novels, Remembrance is an emotional experience into a dark chapter of slavery in the new world. The overlaying stories of the female characters in Dominica in the late 17th century, fleeing to the port city of New Orleans, the American Civil War and Underground Railroad provide a rich background drop for Rita Woods' novel. The characters are interesting and elicited an emotional reader connection to the story.

As well written as it was, I felt myself losing interest in the final chapters which became bogged down with too much dialogue. However, loved the ending with the current day character of Gaelle and think as sequel would be anticipated.

Becky S. (Springfield, MO)

Twist on a familiar story
This book was so different from any I have ever read! I am not one to read science fiction or the fantasy genre, yet I have read many historical fiction books.. this was what I would call a mystical, historical fiction. The special powers of the women in the story, is what made it all so special. I found that I couldn't put the book down and was tense with wondering what was going to happen next! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the imaginative way it was written.. very talented author ! I recommend this book for anyone who thinks they have read all there is about slavery, for this gives it a different twist altogether. It sure gave me a lot to think about ... are there people with special, mystical gifts walking amongst us? Read this book and I suspect you might become a believer!

Mary O. (Boston, MA)

Special
I LOVED this book! This book is a study of superb character development and the interconnections between three special women. As you turn the pages, you become even more a participant in their lives and the characters continue to haunt you after the book is long done. A book everyone should read - a TOTAL JOY!!

...34 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Rita Woods

Rita Woods is a family doctor and the director of a wellness center. When she's not busy working or writing Dr. Woods spends time with her family or at the Homer Glen library where she served on the board for ten years. Remembrance is her first novel.

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