Four Spirits by Isabel Keating Sena Jeter Naslund

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 6 Critic Reviews



From the acclaimed author of the national bestseller Ahab's Wife comes an inspiring, brilliantly rendered new novel of the awakening conscience of the South and of an entire nation.

Written with the same scope and emotional depth as her previous award-winning novel, Four Spirits is set in Sena Jeter Naslund's home city of Birmingham, Alabama, a city that in the 1960s was known as Bombingham. Naslund brings to life this tumultuous time, weaving together the lives of blacks and whites, civil rights advocates and racists, and the events of peaceful protest and violent repression, to create a tapestry of American social transformation.

Stella Silver is an idealistic, young white college student brought up by her genteel, mannered aunts. She first witnesses the events of the freedom movement from a safe distance but, along with her friend Cat Cartwright, is soon drawn into the mounting conflagration. Stella's and Cat's lives are forever altered by their new friendships with other committed freedom fighters.

A student at a black college, Christine Taylor is inspired to action by the examples of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth. She courageously struggles to balance her family responsibilities, education, and work with the passions and dangers of the demonstrations. Her friend Gloria Callahan, a gifted young cellist and descendant of a runaway slave, tries to move beyond her personal shyness and family coziness to enter a wider circle, including blacks and whites, men and women, all involved with the protests. Lionel Parrish, teacher, preacher, and peddler of funeral insurance, battles his own demons of lust and self-preservation, while New York activist Jonathan Green gives up a promising career as a pianist to work for racial justice in the South.

These characters all add their voices to the chorus that makes up this symphony of innocent children and the mythic elderly, the devoutly religious and the skeptical humanist, the wealthy and the poor, the city and the country. Poignant and evocative, rich in historical detail, and filled with the humanity that is the hallmark of Naslund's fiction, Four Spirits is a compelling tale that transcends tragedy and evokes redemptive triumph.


About Isabel Keating Sena Jeter Naslund

See more books from this Author
Sena Jeter Naslund was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1942. She received a Bachelor's degree from Birmingham Southern College, where she received the B.B. Comer Medal in English, and a Master's degree and a doctorate from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. She has taught at the University of Louisville, the University of Montana, Indiana University (Bloomington), Vermont College, and the University of Montevallo. She has written several books including The Disobedience of Water, Ahab's Wife, Four Spirits, Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette, and Adam and Eve. She has won numerous awards including the Harper Lee Award, the Hall-Waters Southern Prize, the Southeastern Library Association Award, and the Alabama Library Association Award.
Published March 17, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 560 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction, Religion & Spirituality, Business & Economics. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Four Spirits

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

Things end with the requisite sacrifices and martyrdoms, and the death of a celestial black matriarch, who, like Faulkner’s Dilsey, has “endured.” As social protest, Four Spirits is commendably passionate and partisan;

| Read Full Review of Four Spirits

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

During the civil rights conflict, Birmingham, Ala., was notorious for the ferocity of its racial bigotry: peaceful demonstrators attacked with fire hoses and dogs by police chief Bull Connor; the K

Jul 14 2003 | Read Full Review of Four Spirits

BC Books

See more reviews from this publication

While touching upon the troubles and troublemakers that live and die in Dixie, Four Spirits presents vignettes and traces the accounts of a wide variety of protagonists and antagonists — black and white, conservative and liberal, outsiders and locals — who make up the patchwork panorama of "Bombi...

Feb 01 2006 | Read Full Review of Four Spirits

Book Reporter

Sena Jeter Naslund dedicates her new novel, FOUR SPIRITS, to the memories of Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley.

Jan 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Four Spirits

RT Book Reviews

RT Book Reviews © 2009 - 2013.

| Read Full Review of Four Spirits


As the book closes we are uncertain if Stella has found her path because she gives up teach to once again change direction and follows her third fiancé to work on voter registration.Naslund believes that historical fiction is one way to understand history not from the big picture but from ordinar...

| Read Full Review of Four Spirits

Rate this book!

Add Review