Hearing by Jael
University of Wisconsin Press, Terrace Books, 2005 - Fiction - 305 pages
In 1993 the narrator Jael B. Juba treks south to revisit historic Tarragona, Florida, where her friend and mentor Elizabeth Harding Dumot had restored a decrepit mansion fifteen years earlier and released the wild energies of legend and contemporary social conflict before getting out of town, her work done. Juba’s work is also one of restoration. She must return a long-hidden diary— discovered by Harding in her work on the house—to its original site, a secret room about to be opened to the public for the first time. Here, the diarist Frances Boullet and her intimates once kept a vodun sanctuary for celebrating their multiracial heritage, burying their dead, resisting the terror of the conquest of the Americas, and pondering the knowledge they draw from their variously Creolized past. Through the sanctuary, the diary, and the novel flow tales of trading; piracy; colonization; slave life at a plantation; an Indian bride’s miraculous legacy from the time of the Seminole Wars; Haitian uprisings and inter-American conflict; and murders, births, and hauntings in Reconstruction times and after. These tales, framed by Juba’s and Harding’s, stretch into a revisionary history that is joyously plural.
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