On the island of Willow Springs, off the Georgia coast, the powers of healer Mama Day are tested by her great niece, Cocoa, a stubbornly emancipated woman endangered by the island's darker forces. A powerful generational saga at once tender and suspenseful, overflowing with magic and common sense.
“Gloria Naylor’s fictional island, Willow Springs, is home to a few black families who have lived there since time of Sapphira Wade, a ‘true conjure woman’ who could ‘walk through a lightning storm without being touched’ and who, as legend has it, may or may not have murdered the white landowner who was first her owner and then her husband and/or lover. Located between Georgia and South Carolina but a part of neither, Willow Springs is a place that resembles and yet makes strange the rest of the world. Like women anywhere, women from Willow Springs worry about not having children and are jealous of their spouses—but here they use secret rituals to become pregnant and cast spells over rivals. Here Ophelia Day (nicknamed Cocoa) returns every August from New York City, eventually bringing her new, native northeastern husband George; here, a hurricane, evil spells, jealousy, and tragedy combine to teach her about the power of love and family. Here also is Mama Day, Sapphira’s great-granddaughter and Cocoa’s great-aunt, who has powers that the sophisticated Cocoa only senses and the practical George recognizes much too late. His sacrifice and Mama Day’s love for her family and respect for her world teach us, ‘It ain’t about right or wrong, truth or lies; it’s about a slave woman who brought a whole new meaning to both them words, soon as you cross over here from beyond the bridge.’” —Caren Town, 500 Great Books by Women
“Resonates with genuine excitement . . . a big, strong admirable novel.” —The New York Times Book Review
“This is a wonderful novel, full of spirit and sass and wisdom, and completely realized.” —The Washington Post
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