Somewhere I read in The Holy Koran “Read in the name of Allah.” Now be you Christian, Hebrew, Hindu, African traditional religionist, or some other religion the statement still stands. Reading is a way to experience the larger world in a personal and intimate way. Reading is similar to traveling in the sense that it expands the mind and is key in the educational process. That being said I’d like to recommend a book I read a few years ago that left a lasting impression. The title is Voodoo Dreams by Jewel Parker Rhodes. The following summary is from Publisher’s Weekly Review.
NEA Fiction Award – winner Rhodes introduces a fearsome heroine and comments on the slave trade in an astute, evocative first novel based on the life of an actual voodoo priestess. From the age of 10, Creole girl Marie Laveau has visions of voodoo rites, yet her grandmother, who raised her, refuses to explain these supernatural occurrences. “Grandmere” wants to protect Marie, whose maternal lineage includes many dangerous voodoo queens, but her secretiveness only makes the girl resentful and curious. When they move from their secluded country home to New Orleans in 1819, Marie fulfills her destiny, forsaking her kindly husband on their wedding night to conduct ceremonies in which she’s possessed by her dead mother’s ghost and by the god Damballah. Rhodes eschews literary aspirations in favor of steamy, violent interludes worthy of a bodice-ripper- an abolitionist who loves Marie from afar, an incestuous relationship between aristorcratic twins – but her insightfulness about black heritage, antebellum history and gender roles raises the tale well above the norm. Melodramatic yet mesmerizing, it effectively synthesizes the twin themes of female and African American empowerment. end of the review.
For those who know anything about New Orleans you’ll sure to recognize the name Marie Laveau! I don’t know how much of this book is based on reality but it sure feels real when you read it. It’s like you are there watching these events as they unfold. She brings that voodoo culture from down in the bayou to life in an unforgettable way. A great read.