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Voodoo Dreams: A Novel of Marie Laveau Paperback – Jan 15 1995

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Amazon.ca First Novel Award - 6 Canadian Novels Make the Shortlist

Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (Jan. 15 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312119313
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312119317
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 658 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,162,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

NEA Fiction Award winner Rhodes's first novel brings to life a legendary 19th-century voodoo priestess.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In this first novel, which is based on the life of a 19th-century voodooist, Rhodes attempts to place her subject within a feminist context. Brought to New Orleans from the bayou by her grandmother, a former slave, the fictional Marie is persuaded to marry Jacques, a black sailor, in order to escape her mother's fate. Marie's mother was a voodoo queen who was killed because white people feared her powers. Marie leaves Jacques and falls under the spell of John, a voodoo doctor who beats her and exploits her ability to influence crowds. When Marie recognizes and accepts her powerful voodoo heritage, she is able to free herself from John. While Rhodes effectively captures the erotic and racist climate of 19th-century New Orleans, her plot is overwritten and occasionally repetitive.
- Harriet Gottfried, NYPL
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
Just in time for the Halloween "holiday" celebrated by real and replica ghosts, witches, and goblins, an old story of New Orlean's most renowned Voodooienne, Marie Laveau is a perfect read. Rhodes takes great detail to write a historical sketch on the lives of three generations of Voodoo Queens; Grandmere`, Maman, and finally Marie. All three women are named Marie, but the most revered of them is the last one born. The money hungry and foul tempered John and Marie's sweetheart of a husband, Jacque, serve as love interests to add an interesting twist to the storyline once Marie answers the call of Damballah, the ultimate god in the African spirit world who would only possess the body of a voodoo priestess. Characters like Ziti, Nattie, Bridgette, Louis and Ribauld add spice to the mix of the story line as the reader delves into Marie's life story from childhood to the end of her long "career" as a spiritual healer/vessel for African spirits.

Though the book may appear daunting in length, once I opened up the book, Rhodes weaved a spell on me from start to finish by making me wonder where the history ended and where the fiction began in this book. There are so many mysteries surrounding Marie Laveau's life that I was pleased to have a few questions answered and simultaneously be schooled on some of the history of the religion brought over from the African American homeland. Was/is voodoo just a way for blacks to make money by praying on the hopes of those who believed in voodoo's "dark powers" during a time period when job opportunities were scarce for freed blacks in the late 19th century? Exactly how long did Marie live? These were just a few of the questions that I wanted answered when I picked up this book ...
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Format: Paperback
It's hard for me to think of a book that I so badly wanted to end in my history of reading. This story, although captivating at first, turns into a cesspool melodramatic monologues and arguments. I sympathized with Marie in the beginning of the book, when she was a naive little girl who couldn't help but be drawn to voodoo through curiosity and instinct. As the book progressed, Marie's personality went through so many ups and downs inconsistent with her character that I began to not care at all what happened to her--the story progression and character development was just plain sloppy and tiresome to read. In addition, the eroticism that Rhodes so freely expounds on added color and dimension to the story at first, but when Marie starts desiring virutally every male character in the book, I couldn't help but wonder if there was any rhyme or reason to her sensuality, or if it was there just for entertainment's sake.
This book did however spark in me an interest in the history of voodoo in Haiti and New Orleans, but I think I would prefer to read something a little less fictional and sensationlized next time.
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By Blackworm on March 6 2003
Format: Paperback
VOODOO DREAMS is not the type of book that I generally read for entertainment, however, it was what I was carrying around at the time until my next novel, so I read it, and had the nerve to enjoy it. A novel of Marie Laveau, from childhood to adulthood, the next voodoo queen for her people, Marie was raised in the bayou of Louisana, purposely by her grandmother, to live as best as she can, despite the isolation of living in the woods. During this time, she has visions of a man who will acknowledge her abilities and use them for his own gain. Despite her grandmother's attempts to keep her ignorant of her powers and her past, especially of her mother, Marie rebels until she leaves the haven she has known for a world that exist during the time of the slave ships and the free black men who must have papers to prove it. Marie is automatically drawn into a quickie marriage to provide her stability, while being drawn to a man who will destroy her mentally, emotionally, and physically in order to obtain his desires of dominance over the blacks who believe in voodoo. During this traumatic time, Marie's powers will prove to be more than just a lark. They will show her how to survive, and who to trust. They will also act as tools of revenge toward those who have already engineered her destruction. She will also realize that just because she has the gift, doesn't mean she's the only one. A novel with a right mixture of love, betrayal, friendship, lust, and voodoo, only the sturdiest of readers will attempt to take this book on, and also like it.
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Format: Paperback
Kudos to Jewell Parker Rhodes for an extraordinary piece of fiction based, in part, on fact. While some might argue that the picture Ms. Rhodes paints of the three Marie Laveaus is not entirely born out by the historical evidence, let's set the record straight. Take a close look at the title on the cover ... Ms. Rhodes clearly acknowledges that this amazing book is a NOVEL and never claims herself to be the definitive biographer of the REAL Marie Laveau or any of Marie's decendents.
That said, there are several reasons why I believe this book deserves 5 stars. First, the vivid imagery used so eloquently by Ms. Rhodes harkens back to the days of old when ALL history was oral history and story-telling was an art. What she has given us is a passionate tale of female courage in the face of injustice, triumph, tragedy, adventure, mystery and faith -- all packaged in a format that is superbly written and masterfully structured.
In my opinion, with VOODOO DREAMS, Jewell Parker Rhodes shines where most of the current best-selling authors fail. She leaves you begging for more, NOT wishing you'd spent your money at Starbucks.
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