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"The Conjure Woman"

The Conjure Woman, by Charles W. Chesnutt, possesses the double attraction of being at the same time a continuous narrative and a book of short tales. It contains in the ex-slave, Julius, one of the most interesting personages to be found in all this season's grist of story books. Julius is represented as combining the credulity and oriental imagination of his negro ancestors with the cunning inherited through a slight strain of white blood in his veins. He entertaines his new northern employers with most naïve accounts of wonder and tricks performed by the conjure woman, which accounts are each story of life and love under difficulties of plantation rule, and are told in negro vernacular happily not overdone. The working of charms and spooks, and other darkly superstitious lend plot and animation to the tales. The minor characters introduced are by no means poorly portrayed. A train of sweet home life in the family where Julius is employed runs through the volume, and the contrast between the lot of the southern gentlepeople and that of their dependent servants is emphasized clearly, but entirely without rant. The scene is laid in North Carolina, but no long scenic descriptions burden the text. Just enough suggestion is made of mansions, negro quarters, cotton fields, swamps and stretch of woodland to give incidents their proper setting. Where dialect is not used, English is lucid and unobtrusive. The binding is neat and bears an appropriate design. Houghton, Mifflin & Co,. $1.25.)