Gathering of Waters [NOOK Book]

Overview

Selected as a Go On Girl! Book Pick

“100 Notable Books of 2012” —New York Times
“50 Best Books of 2012” —Washington Post

"McFadden works a kind of miracle -- not only do [her characters] retain their appealing humanity; their story eclipses the bonds of history to offer continuous surprises . . . Beautiful and evocative, Gathering of ...
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Gathering of Waters

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Overview

Selected as a Go On Girl! Book Pick

“100 Notable Books of 2012” —New York Times
“50 Best Books of 2012” —Washington Post

"McFadden works a kind of miracle -- not only do [her characters] retain their appealing humanity; their story eclipses the bonds of history to offer continuous surprises . . . Beautiful and evocative, Gathering of Waters brings three generations to life . . . The real power of the narrative lies in the richness and complexity of the characters. While they inhabit these pages they live, and they do so gloriously and messily and magically, so that we are at last sorry to see them go, and we sit with those small moments we had with them and worry over them, enchanted, until they become something like our own memories, dimmed by time, but alive with the ghosts of the past, and burning with spirits."
--New York Times Book Review

"Read it aloud. Hire a chorus to chant it to you and anyone else interested in hearing about civil rights and uncivil desires, about the dark heat of hate, about the force of forgiveness."
--Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered, NPR

"McFadden combines events of Biblical proportions--from flooding to resurrection--with history to create a cautionary, redemptive tale that spans the early twentieth century to the start of Hurricane Katrina. She compellingly invites readers to consider the distinctions between 'truth or fantasy' . . . In McFadden's boldly spun yarn, consequences extend across time and place. This is an arresting historical portrait of Southern life with reimagined outcomes, suggesting that hope in the enduring power of memory can offer healing where justice does not suffice."
--Publishers Weekly

"The rich text is shaped by the African American storytelling tradition and layered with significant American histories. Recalling the woven spirituality of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, this work will appeal to readers of mystic literature."
--Library Journal

"McFadden makes powerful use of imagery in this fantastical novel of ever-flowing waters and troubled spirits."
--Booklist

"In this fierce reimagining, the actual town of Money, MS narrates the story about the ghost of Emmett Till and his from-the-other-side reunification with the girl he loved as a child in Gathering of Waters by Bernice L. McFadden."
--Ebony Magazine

Gathering of Waters is a deeply engrossing tale narrated by the town of Money, Mississippi--a site both significant and infamous in our collective story as a nation. Money is personified in this haunting story, which chronicles its troubled history following the arrival of the Hilson and Bryant families.

Tass Hilson and Emmett Till were young and in love when Emmett was brutally murdered in 1955. Anxious to escape the town, Tass marries Maximillian May and relocates to Detroit.

Forty years later, after the death of her husband, Tass returns to Money and fantasy takes flesh when Emmett Till's spirit is finally released from the dank, dark waters of the Tallahatchie River. The two lovers are reunited, bringing the story to an enchanting and profound conclusion.

Gathering of Waters mines the truth about Money, Mississippi, as well as the town's families, and threads their history over decades. The bare-bones realism--both disturbing and riveting--combined with a magical realm in which ghosts have the final say, is reminiscent of Toni Morrison's Beloved.
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Editorial Reviews

Lisa Page
The narrator of this hypnotic novel is not a person but a place: Money, Miss. And novelist Bernice L. McFadden has created a voice that is ethereal, ancient and wise…the strength of this novel is its depiction of the material world. Where its first half is brazen and erotic…its second half accelerates, thanks to McFadden's moving re-creation of historical events: the 1927 flood of the Mississippi, [Emmett] Till's murder and even Hurricane Katrina.
—The Washington Post
Jesmyn Ward
Novelists writing about traumatic historical moments face a particular challenge: how to bring the event to immediate, visceral life without overpowering the characters or their experiences. In Gathering of Waters…Bernice L. McFadden recreates not just the Mississippi flood of 1927…but also the brutal murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955. It would be easy for her characters to recede in the glare of these events, but McFadden works a kind of miracle—not only do they retain their appealing humanity; their story eclipses the bonds of history to offer continuous surprises.
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
Narrated by the town of Money, Mississippi, a place divided by race, McFadden's eighth novel (after Glorious) traces the influence of murdered prostitute Esther, whose soul inhabits some of the characters. Her seductions and destructive schemes indirectly lead to the birth of Tass, the fictional woman who would love Emmett "Bobo" Till, the teenager whose real-life 1955 murder helped fuel the Civil Rights movement. McFadden combines events of Biblical proportions—from flooding to resurrection—with history to create a cautionary, redemptive tale that spans the early twentieth century to the start of Hurricane Katrina. She compellingly invites readers to consider the distinctions between "truth or fantasy." Like other novels that allow victims of crime to wander between the afterlife and the waking world in search of resolution, McFadden's leaves some plot elements open-ended, contributing to a sense of mysterious forces at work. Evil exists as its own rationale, as do Esther's motivations. In McFadden's boldly spun yarn, consequences extend across time and place. This is an arresting historical portrait of Southern life with reimagined outcomes, suggesting that hope in the enduring power of memory can offer healing where justice does not suffice. (Jan.)
Library Journal
NAACP Image Award and Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist McFadden (Glorious) here reimagines the summer Emmett Till spent in Mississippi in 1955 and the events leading up to his murder. The story chronicles the young love between Emmett and Tass Hilton, which finally transcends death. Having left Mississippi for Detroit after Emmett dies, Tass returns 40 years later as a widow to reawaken his spirit, trapped in the dank waters of the Tallahatchie River. This story is deeply affecting, but the novel's greatest triumph is the salacious tale of Tass's grandmother Doll Hilton, as the spirit of this scorned woman refuses to rest, often returning angry and more vindictive than in her previous life: "They beat the goodness and the sweetness out of her. They beat her into the streets, into back alleys, down into the dirt, into the gutter, onto her knees." The rich text is shaped by the African American storytelling tradition and layered with significant American histories. VERDICT Recalling the woven spirituality of Toni Morrison's Beloved, this work will appeal to readers of African American and mystic literature.—Ashanti White, Univ. of North Carolina, Greensboro
Kirkus Reviews
This well-intentioned but seriously flawed eighth novel from McFadden (Glorious, 2010, etc.) seeks to honor the memory of Emmett Till, victim of one of America's most horrific lynchings. The details can still make you sick to your stomach. Fourteen-year-old Emmett, an African-American from Chicago, visited family in 1955 Mississippi; after the briefest of exchanges with a white woman, he was murdered by her relatives, who mutilated his body. His story has been told many times in novels and documentaries. Curiously, McFadden devotes fewer than 40 pages to the murder and its judicial aftermath. The long first section covers the years 1921 to 1940. The narrator (the voice of Money, the hamlet where Till was lynched) focuses on a black pastor, August, and his wife Doll, whose body has been possessed since her birth by the spirit of an evil whore called Esther. While McFadden writes convincingly of the body-soul relationship, she loses control of her family saga amidst melodramatic flourishes. Just two things are important. The first is that Doll's granddaughter Tass will fall for Emmett. The second is that a child known as J.W. will die in a flood but return to life possessed by Esther, Doll having drowned. He will grow up to be J.W. Milam, the instigator of the lynching and a certified monster with a lust to kill, thanks to Esther. So it's not his fault! McFadden's bizarre interpretation cheapens Till's story. After recounting the fateful incident at the grocery store and, touchingly, Emmett's innocent flirtation with Tass, she hurries through the murder itself, carried out by J.W. and his weak-willed brother-in-law. A long, banal concluding section follows Tass in later life; Emmett's spirit has attached itself to her protectively. And that wicked old Esther? On the 50th anniversary of the lynching, she returns…as Katrina. A magical-realist treatment of Till's story can succeed (see Lewis Nordan's 1993 Wolf Whistle), but not at this level of distortion.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781617751103
  • Publisher: Akashic Books
  • Publication date: 1/31/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 250
  • Sales rank: 151,900
  • File size: 375 KB

Meet the Author

Bernice L. McFadden is the author of seven critically acclaimed novels including the classic Sugar and Glorious, which was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, selected as the debut title for the One Book, One Harlem program, and was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award. She is a two-time Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist, as well as the recipient of two fiction honor awards from the BCALA. Her sophomore novel, The Warmest December, was praised by Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison as "searing and expertly imagined." McFadden lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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Read an Excerpt

Gathering of Waters


By Bernice L. McFadden

Akashic Books

Copyright © 2012 Bernice L. McFadden
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-61775-031-1


Chapter One

I am Money. Money Mississippi. I have had many selves and have been many things. My beginning was not a conception, but the result of a growing, stretching, and expanding, which took place over thousands of years.

I have been figments of imaginations, shadows and sudden movements seen out of the corner of your eye. I have been dewdrops, falling stars, silence, flowers, and snails.

For a time I lived as a beating heart, another life found me swimming upstream toward a home nestled in my memory. Once I was a language that died. I have been sunlight, snowdrifts, and sweet babies' breath. But today, however, for you and for this story, I am Money. Money Mississippi.

I do not know for whom or what I was named. Perhaps I was christened for a farmer's beloved mule or a child's favorite pet; I suspect, though, that my name was derived from a dream deferred, because as a town, I have been impoverished for most of my existence.

You know, before white men came with their smiles, Bibles, guns, and disease, this place that I am was inhabited by Native men. Choctaw Indians. It was the Choctaw who gave the state its name: Mississippi—which means many gathering of waters. The white men fancied the name, but not the Indians, and so slaughtered them and replaced them with Africans, who as you know were turned into slaves to drive the white man's ego, whim, and industry.

But what you may not know and what the colonists, genociders, and slave owners certainly did not know is this: Both the Native man and the African believed in animism, which is the idea that souls inhabit all objects, living things, and even phenomena. When objects are destroyed and bodies perish, the souls flit off in search of a new home. Some souls bring along memories, baggage if you will, that they are unwilling or unable to relive themselves of. Oftentimes these memories manifest in humans as déjà vu. Other times and in many other life-forms and so-called inanimate objects, these displays have been labeled as curious, bizarre, absurd, and deadly.

You may have read in the news about the feline having all the characteristics of a dog, the primate who walked upright from the day he was born until the day he died, of men trapped in female hosts and vice versa, the woman who woke one morning to find that she had grown a tail, the baby boy who emerged from his mother's womb flanked not in skin but scales, the man who grew to the towering heights of a tree, rivers overflowing their banks, monster waves wiping away whole cities, twisters gobbling up entire neighborhoods, relentlessly falling snow blanketing towns like volcano ash.

These are all memories of previous existences.

Listen, if you choose to believe nothing else that transpires here, believe this: your body does not have a soul; your soul has a body, and souls never, ever die.

To my memory, I have never been human, which probably explains my fascination with your kind. Admittedly, I am guilty of a very long and desperate infatuation with a family that I followed for decades. In hindsight, I believe that I was drawn to the beautifully tragic heartbrokenness of their lives, and so for years remained with them, helplessly tethered, like a mare to a post.

Their story begins not with the tragedy of '55 but long before that, with the arrival of the first problem, which came draped in crinoline and silk; carrying a pink parasol in one hand and a Bible in the other.

Chapter Two

In 1900, the Violet Construction Company purchased a tract of land on the south bank of the Tallahatchie River and dug up the bones of the Choctaw Indians and the Africans. They tore from their roots black-eyed Susans, Cherokee roses, and Virginia creepers, and removed quite a number of magnolia and tupelo saplings. They did all of this to make room for forty three-story clapboard homes complete with indoor plumbing, grand verandas, and widow's walks. A road was laid to accommodate horse and buggies and the rare motorcar. The cobblestone sidewalks were lined with gas street lanterns and the street itself was christened Candle.

Oak floors, chandeliers, wainscoting, and brass hardware dazzled potential buyers who came to view those homes that looked over the prettiest part of the river. The people walked through the spacious rooms holding their chins and sighing approvingly in their throats as they admired the fine woodwork and custom details.

The homes sold very quickly.

With the creation of Candle Street came jobs for laundresses, maids, and cooks, which brought in more people to the area—darker people.

So in 1915, the Violet Construction Company purchased a second tract of land, this time on the north shore of the river.

The north shore tract was cleared of most of the ancient, towering long-leaf pines whose thick canopy had deprived the land of sun, which turned the earth hard, dry, and as uneven as a washboard. Running vines speckled with yellow thorns coiled around trees, rocks, and the carcasses of animals and people who had stopped, dropped, and died there. The Violet Construction Company removed all of it and used the cheapest grade of pinewood to erect thirty modest-sized homes that did not have indoor plumbing, widow's walks, or verandas. At night the Negroes had to depend on the light of the moon to guide them along the rocky, cratered footpath. And if there was no moonlight—well, God help them.

The Violet Construction Company named the street Baxter's Road, but since only Negroes occupied those homes, both black and white alike began to refer to the little community on the north shore as Nigger Row.

The church, funded by the Negro community, was built in 1921. The residents of Candle Street gifted their dark, wooly-haired neighbors a small crate of Bibles and a proper crucifix set with a blond-haired, blue-eyed Jesus molded from plaster of paris and nailed resolutely to its center. The Negroes did not have a man of the cloth living amongst them, so sent out word that they were in search of a suitable cleric to lead their flock.

As fate would have it, Reverend August Hilson and his family had recently been displaced by the race riots that erupted in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Negroes who managed to avoid being shot down in the streets like dogs, or burned to a crisp as they slept in their beds, packed up what they could and fled Tulsa.

For weeks, August and his family lived like nomads, wandering from one town to the next until they wandered all the way to Greenwood, Mississippi. There, August learned that his services were in dire need, "Just down the road," the bearer of the news advised, "in Money."

August Hilson and his family took possession of a home on Nigger Row on a cool November day. The photographer from the local newspaper came to capture the auspicious occasion. The family posed on the porch. August was seated in a mahogany chair cushioned in red velvet. The long, dark fingers of his right hand curled around his favorite Bible. His left hand rested on the intricately carved lion's head which looked out at the photographer from its post at the top of the armrest. His wife, a peanut-colored, petite, full-bosomed woman named Doll, stood dutifully at his right side with her left hand on his shoulder, her right hand wrapped around the long neck of her beloved pink parasol. The children—a daughter named Hemmingway and a son named Paris—were stationed to the left of their father, arms still at their sides.

It was the first time any of them had ever been photographed, and even though they were practically bursting with glee, their expressions were painfully somber and their postures were as stiff as stone.

From beneath the dark blanket that covered both photographer and camera, the photographer counted off: Three ... two ... one ...

The bulb exploded, expelling a puff of white smoke. A cheer went up from the small crowd that had gathered to watch the spectacle, and the Hilson family officially began their new lives.

Days later, when August was presented with a framed copy of the newspaper article, he took it into the drawing room where the light was brightest. There, August stood for many minutes gazing wondrously at the grainy picture. He thought they all looked like wax figures—well, all except Doll, who had the faintest wisp of a smile resting on her lips.

August was too modest a man to hang the framed article on the wall for every visitor to see, so stored it away on a bookshelf. Every once in a while, when he was home alone, he would remove the framed treasure and ogle the picture.

Over the years, the clipping yellowed and curled behind its protective glass, and the photo began to distort and fade. Sometimes when August peered at it, Doll seemed to be sneering; other times, she bared her teeth like a badger. August blamed the changes in the picture on figments of his imagination, poor light, and aging eyes; he had a bagful of explanations to explain it away. The final straw, however, came when he looked at the picture one day and saw that Doll's middle and index fingers on both hands were crossed; August could not for the life of him decide if the gesture had been made in hope of good luck or for exclusion from a promise.

He tossed the memento in the river, but it was too late—his fate was already sealed.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Gathering of Waters by Bernice L. McFadden Copyright © 2012 by Bernice L. McFadden . Excerpted by permission of Akashic Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 39 )
Rating Distribution

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(31)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 39 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 16, 2012

    Lest We Forget

    Rich, detailed and historic, Bernice McFadden brings forth another wonderful story filled with all the elements of life – sorrow and joy, good times and bad and the realities that often mark our life. It is the unsettled soul of the dead prostitute Esther that stirs up so much difficulty amongst the living. But often in life, it is such darkness that allows a much needed light to come through. A daring endeavor, the arrival of Emmet Till into the novel had me bracing my heart. Despite knowing how it ended, I found myself wishing for a different ending. But Ms. McFadden handled the incident with truth and care and though my heart surged and ached as I read it, I still felt a soft hope. There is a saying that those who do not remember the past are bound to repeat it and such moments of our history as Americans needs to be remembered, forever. I applaud Ms. McFadden for another skillful glance back into our past and am looking forward to many more such thought evoking, heart rendering stories. “Gathering of Waters” is a true gem and a must read… Margaret Johnson-Hodge author of "In Search of Tennessee Sunshine"

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 2, 2012

    THIS NOVEL WAS A CHANGE OF CHARACTER FOR BERNICE MCFADDEN BUT I

    THIS NOVEL WAS A CHANGE OF CHARACTER FOR BERNICE MCFADDEN BUT I TOTALLY ENJOYED IT. I DID NOT WANT THE STORY TO END AND YES IT WAS A REAL STORY THAT CAPTIVATED YOU. LOVED IT.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 20, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Gathers history's guilt into hope and mystery

    Mississippi—Many gathering Waters—is the location for Bernice McFadden’s latest novel, Gathering of Waters. It’s also one of the characters in the tale, with the small town of Money Mississippi carrying as convincing a voice as the mysterious narrator of Marcus Zuzak’s The Book Thief. Detached writing brings an absorbing, almost overwhelming depth to this tale, making it one of those rare books I’ve been unable to put down while reading.

    Whether or not you accept the existence and transference of souls, Bernice McFadden’s convincing writing suspends all disbelief and flings the reader into Mississippi’s recent history, riding over the divide of black and white, spinning through fields where thwarted love demands its recompense, surviving childbirth and flood till the arrival of Chicago’s visitor. Though I knew from the cover that Emmett Till was a part of this Mississippi tale, his arrival was so naturally told I forgot his history, welcomed his presence and his voice, and was newly and totally shocked by his sudden demise.

    Author Bernice McFadden brings the impossibly horrific to life with the same sympathy, skill, and humanity as Marcus Zuzak did in The Book Thief, leaving the reader to face man’s inhumanity without prejudgment, and creating a glorious space in ignominy for hope. Life goes on, as does the story, till a word-perfect, picture-perfect, spiritually perfect conclusion truly draws it to a close, leaving this reader breathless and enriched.

    I’ve read other novels by Bernice McFadden, but this one blows me away and I can’t wait to ask my book group to add it to next year’s list.



    Disclosure: I received a free review copy from Akashic books in exchange for my honest review.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2013

    I have never read any of Bernice McFadden's books, but after rea

    I have never read any of Bernice McFadden's books, but after reading her latest, "Gathering of Waters" I am a fan. It is so beautifully written that it was like sitting back and listening to a great storyteller. At times blunt and disturbing, at others almost magical. A great book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 6, 2013

    Detailed, wonderfully woven story with a very important piece of

    Detailed, wonderfully woven story with a very important piece of history woven into it! AMAZING

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2013

    Rogue

    Ugh. *walks out* gtg

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2013

    To below

    You mean a bandana?

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2013

    A woman

    She speaks in an irish accent. "Hello there!"

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2013

    Aero

    Aero jumps down and lands with a thump.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2013

    Widow

    Of course.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2013

    Rachel

    *Flies in.* Whats up peeps? Rachel Dawson is in!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2013

    Great book i loved it

    I only hate that she ever says who Tass father was.

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  • Posted November 23, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    EXCELLENT JOB!!!!! MY HAT GOES OFF TO MS MCFADDEN, SHE KNOW SHE

    EXCELLENT JOB!!!!!

    MY HAT GOES OFF TO MS MCFADDEN, SHE KNOW SHE DID THE THANG WITH THIS NOVEL. MS MCFADDEN HAS A WAY OF MAKING THE STORY JUMP OFF THE PAGES AND COME TO LIFE. I FELT LIKE I TOO WAS THERE IN MONEY, MISSISSIPPI.

    ALL THE CHARACTERS ESTHER, DOLL, HEMINGWAY, TASS, AND EMMETT STORY WAS POWERFUL. I COULD FEEL THE HATE THAT WAS BEING DEPICTED DURING THAT TIME.

    I MYSELF BEING AN AFRICAN AMERICAN KNEW THE STORY OF EMMETT TILL. BUT TO SEE HOW MS MCFADDEN TOLD THE STORY WAS JUST MIND BLOWING.

    THE SPIRIT OF ESTHER WAS SOMETHING ELSE. I DON'T WANT TO GIVE AWAY ANY OF THE STORY. BUT I WILL TELL YOU, THAT THIS BOOK IS A MUST READ FOR EVERYONE. EVERY RACE AND GENDER COULD BENEFIT READING THIS BOOK. ENJOY.........

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  • Posted September 16, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Powerful!!! Awesome!!!! This is a must read! Bernice McFadden ha

    Powerful!!! Awesome!!!! This is a must read! Bernice McFadden has done it again! The book is engrossing and hard to put down!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 22, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This was a wonderfully wrought story which delved into the world

    This was a wonderfully wrought story which delved into the world of a family line in the prescient town of Money, Mississippi. There is something magical that moves through the entire length of the narrative, and I appreciated the mix of the fantastical and worldly. I read this book quite quickly - its size is deceptive and the story moves along at a quick pace. In fact, that was the main thing I disliked - I wished more time and attention had been taken with the characters. It seemed that just as we got to know them a little bit, they were gone. People's motives were spelled out because they were in and out of the story so quickly and if we had lingered on them longer, their actions would have seemed somehow more natural.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2012

    Why did it have to end? Once again, B Mac delivers BIG! Money,

    Why did it have to end? Once again, B Mac delivers BIG!

    Money, Mississippi's alluring voice resonates throughout this book even as it spews a recollection of one of the ugliest events in U.S. history.

    This story takes you on a narrative ride along a path only B Mac can navigate. Although I am very much familiar of the Emmett Till tragedy, my heart raced as I followed her lead in re-imagining the thoughts and intentions of all involved. I would have loved to learn more about the summer romance between Emmett and Tass, but the pre-story was the gripper.

    You will NOT be disappointed as you delve into the history of Doll, Hemingway and most importantly the unseen but ever present ESTHER!

    Incredible character development (one of my favorite aspects of fiction reading).

    Thanks B Mac for another hit!

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  • Posted April 23, 2012

    Bernice L. McFadden is a literary genius! I love reading her boo

    Bernice L. McFadden is a literary genius! I love reading her books, they always take me back into a time of yesteryear, with great detail and since of "being"!!! Gathering of Waters is my new favorite from her and Im pleased to say that I read this book in 2 1/2 days! A great read, I could not put this book down!!! ;0)

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  • Posted April 16, 2012

    Ms. McFadden is one of the best Contemporary African American Fe

    Ms. McFadden is one of the best Contemporary African American Female authors out. "Gathering of Waters" was engaging and fresh. McFadden took one of the most brutal acts of racism in American history and intertwined humor, pathos, and understanding of the inhabitants of Money, MS. A very good novel to escape.

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  • Posted April 15, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Spirits Among the Living Welcome to Money, Mississippi, a tow

    Spirits Among the Living

    Welcome to Money, Mississippi, a town of secrets and spirits. When people die, are their souls truly at rest? In her latest novel, McFadden weaves a tale of fantasy and history as she uses her own imagination to create a background story for the Emmitt Till tragedy.

    “Gathering of Waters” begins with an introduction to Esther, the restless soul of a dead prostitute who will influence many lives in decades to follow. Esther inhabits the body of Doll, a preacher's wife who is anything but holy. Following Doll's life, we are introduced to her daughter, Hemmingway, who fortunately escapes the grasp of the soul of Esther. However, Hemmingway does give birth to a daughter she names Tass. It is through Tass that we finally meet Bobo (Emmitt Till) and are introduced to their brief love affair. Unfortunately, we all know how the story ends. Yet, McFadden manages to turn this tragedy into a romance that reaches beyond the grave.

    McFadden is a masterful storyteller. Her characters leap off the pages with her rich dialogue. I truly enjoyed reading the "prequel" to the Emmitt Till story. Even though this is from her imagination, McFadden writes in such a way that the reader can easily accept it as truth. McFadden has once again given readers a story of sorrow and joy, life and death and hope for tomorrow.

    I loved this novel and highly recommend it.

    Reviewed by: Flashette

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2012

    Couldn't Wait for it to end!

    I should start by saying that I foolishly purchased this book without reading a sample first. I did this because I have enjoyed Bernice McFadden's prior works. What a mistake I made!

    -----SPOILER ALERT-----

    The plot went wrong pretty early on for me when Doll (a child) is possessed by the evil spirit of a murdered whore named Esther. We then embark on a journey of Doll's unspeakable acts and aren't offered any redeeming qualities in her character. In fact, I think that was a major problem; I didn't really get to know (or care) about ANY of the players in this story. Characters quickly tumble in and out of the plot without making much of an impact and I found myself having to turn back pages to remind myself of who they were. (Later on in the story I began to skip past pages to hurry up and get it all over with.) Also, since I prefer to have the blame rest solely on the humans involved in Emmett Till's murder, I'm not comfortable with the twist of J.W. Milam being ressurrected and possessed by Esther. But that's a whole nother rant.

    Gathering of Waters left me feeling waves of nausea. I miss the author that wrote "Sugar" and will welcome her back with open arms....should she ever decide to resurface.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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