Four Spirits

  • ISBN13:


  • ISBN10:


  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2003-01-01
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications

Note: Supplemental materials are not guaranteed with Rental or Used book purchases.

Purchase Benefits

  • Free Shipping On Orders Over $35!
    Your order must be $35 or more to qualify for free economy shipping. Bulk sales, PO's, Marketplace items, eBooks and apparel do not qualify for this offer.
  • Get Rewarded for Ordering Your Textbooks! Enroll Now
List Price: $14.99 Save up to $7.37
  • Rent Book $8.99
    Add to Cart Free Shipping


Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

  • The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.
  • The Used and Rental copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.


The author of the critically acclaimed "Ahab's Wife" delivers a stunning novel about a young girl coming to terms with civil rights and a changing world.

Author Biography

Sena Jeter Naslund is Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Louisville.

Table of Contents

Prelude: Old Times There, 1948
Helicon, Alabamap. 3
Unleashing the Dogs, May 1963
Stellap. 15
Christinep. 19
Edmundp. 22
Darlp. 24
Bobby Jonesp. 27
TJp. 29
At the Athensp. 35
Gloria at Homep. 38
Edmund at Homep. 40
Christine Walkingp. 41
Fielding's Department Storep. 49
Mr. Fieldingp. 52
At the Bankhead Hotelp. 54
On the Vespap. 55
Night Dutyp. 57
Night Pleasurep. 59
Christine at Homep. 63
Engagedp. 65
Fred Shuttlesworthp. 70
Wanting Bachp. 72
Kingp. 77
The Telephone, the Microphonep. 81
Ryder Jonesp. 85
Gloria's Thought Bookp. 88
Ryder's Second Housep. 91
Leep. 96
Martini: Christine and Gloriap. 100
At Fielding'sp. 103
After Business Hoursp. 106
At Her Deskp. 109
At the Gaslightp. 112
The Slaughter of the Innocents, September 1963
Gloriap. 129
Pimento Dreamp. 133
At Woolworth'sp. 139
Susan Spenser Oaksp. 141
Kind of a Growlp. 144
Huddled Togetherp. 145
Rubblep. 149
The Face of Christp. 152
Someone Smallp. 155
Homewardp. 156
Old Aunt Charlottep. 158
At the Cartwrights'p. 163
Four Lambsp. 167
Trialsp. 170
Edmund's Memori: I Begin Work and Studyp. 172
O Sacred Head, Now Wounded, November 1963
Box of Moonlightp. 181
How the News Came to the Jonesesp. 184
Stella's Odysseyp. 189
Dear Selfp. 235
Lionel Parrish: Letter to the Four Families, December 1p. 239
Edmund's Memoir: A Christmas Story in Retrospectp. 240
The Oven, Summer 1964
New Work, New Lifep. 247
H.O.P.E.p. 251
Driving Homep. 255
Stella's Auntsp. 258
Lionel's Officep. 264
In the Ovenp. 268
Aftermath: Living It Againp. 274
Aftermath: "Traumerei"p. 275
Aftermath: Arcola at the Dressing Tablep. 277
Aftermath: Home for the Nightp. 278
Cahabap. 280
Afternoon Rosesp. 286
Night Again: Caryatidp. 289
Humming in the Heatp. 292
Aunt Pratt Alonep. 296
Lee Plays Barberp. 299
Dappled Lightp. 303
Fans for Augustp. 306
View from Outsidep. 310
Four Spiritsp. 314
Lions Loungingp. 317
An Office Callp. 322
Picasso's Bullp. 327
Catherine's Story: A Friend of the Bodyp. 334
Seed People, September 1964
Dear Donnyp. 353
He Doesn'tp. 356
In the Basementp. 361
Night Ridersp. 366
Resurrectionp. 373
What's the Matter?p. 377
Answersp. 384
Lionel Watchingp. 395
Close to Earthp. 399
Agnes's Honeybeesp. 403
How to Dreamp. 406
Jonathan, the Pianistp. 409
Dear Selfp. 419
Saturday Morning: Edmundp. 423
Saturday Morning: Leep. 429
Saturday: Agnesp. 434
Saturday: Leep. 443
Saturday: Lionelp. 452
Saturday: Catp. 455
Saturday: Gloriap. 460
Joseph Coat-of-Many-Colorsp. 467
I, Gloriap. 473
Stella Listeningp. 476
Spirits in the Snow, January 1965
Jonathanp. 487
New Year's Party, 1965p. 490
Stellap. 502
Postlude: Bringing in the Sheaves
Helicon Homecomingp. 515
Author's Notep. 521
Acknowledgmentsp. 523
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.


Four Spirits
A Novel

Chapter One


From many places in the valley that cradled birminghamyou could lift up your eyes, in 1963, to see the gigantic cast-iron statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of the forge, atop his stone pedestal. Silhouetted against the pale blue skyline, atop Red Mountain, Vulcan held up a torch in one outstretched, soaring arm. In other mountain ridges surrounding the city, the ore lay hidden, but the city had honored this outcropping of iron ore named Red Mountain, as a reminder of the source of its prosperity (such as itwas -- most of the wealth of the steel industry was exported to magnates living in the great cities of the Northeast), by raising Vulcan high above the populace, south of the city.

Fanciful and well-educated children liked to pretend that Vulcan, who looked north, had a romance with the Statue of Liberty, also made of metal. But she was the largest such statue in the world, and he was second to her, and that violated the children's sense of romance, for they understood hierarchy in romance to be as natural as hierarchy among whites and blacks.

Looking down from Vulcan -- his pedestal housed stairs, and around the top of the tower ran an observation platform -- you could see the entire city of Birmingham filling the valley between the last ridges of the Appalachian mountain chain as it stretched from high in the northeast to southwest.

In early May 1963, Stella's freckle-faced boyfriend, a scant half inch taller (but therefore presentable as a boyfriend, if she wore flats), had persuaded her to drive from their college, across the city, avoiding the areas where Negroes were congregating for demonstrations, to Red Mountain. From the observation balcony just below Vulcan's feet, Stella and Darl hoped for a safe overview.

I believe if outsiders would just stay out ... Darl had told her. Let Birmingham solve ... Don't you?

But Stella hadn't answered. Instead, she'd said, I'd like to see. I'm afraid to go close.

We can go up on Vulcan, Darl had offered, for he was a man who wanted to accommodate women; a man who loved his mother. Stella had met her. He'd brought along his bird-watching binoculars. Darl could recognize birds by their songs alone; he could imitate each sound; he kept a life list of all the birds he had ever seen. His actual name was Darling, his mother's maiden name, and though Stella dared not call him Darling, she longed to do so.

"Do you know the average altitude for the flight of robins?" he asked.

A spurt of laughter flew from between Stella's lips. She imagined the giggle as though it had heft and was falling rapidly down from the pedestal, down the mountain, into the valley.

"I don't have the foggiest idea," she said.

"About thirty inches."

"What a waste!" she said. "To have the gift of flight and to fly so low."

She thought Darl might laugh at her sentence -- half serious, half comic -- but he didn't.

Stella glanced up the massive, shining body of Vulcan, past his classical and bare heinie, up his lifted arm to his unilluminated torch. At a distance, she had often observed that the nighttime neon "flame" made the torch resemble a Popsicle. Cherry red, if someone had died in an auto accident; lime green, otherwise. Even this close and looking up his skirt, Vulcan's frontal parts were completely covered by his short blacksmith's apron.

Though it was May and the police were already into short sleeves, on the open observation balcony, Darl and Stella were lifted above the heat into a layer of air with cool breezes. Stella wished she'd worn a sweater. Darl put hisarm around her -- just for warmth, she told herself with determined naïveté, but she thrilled at his encircling arm diagonally crossing her back. His fingers fitted the spaces between her curving ribs. They were alone up in the air; they weren't some trashy couple smooching in public. Yes, this was what she had been wanting. Perhaps for years. Someone's arm around her, making her safe.

Stella knew her breasts were terribly small. If they had been plumper, Darl's fingertips might have found the beginnings of roundness. Sex, sex, sex, she thought. His hand slid down to her waist; her mind careened. Do I feel slender enough there? Inviting? With his other hand, Darl trained the binoculars on the city. With one finger, he adjusted the ridged wheel between the twin eyepieces. The black leather strap looped gracefully around the back of his neck.

Darl was the complete darling: a lover of nature, a lover of music, a lover of God, considerate, a gentleman -- if only he loved her. And best of all he was an organist, a master of the king of instruments. When Darl played Bach's "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded," creating his own improvisations, Stella felt understood. It was she who had been wounded, and the music was what she missed and needed. The way Darl played promised wholeness, profundity. Almost it seemed that the spirit of her father was hovering around Darl and her on this high place.

She placed her hand just below Darl's waist; she shivered as though to say "I only seek closeness for warmth, against the chill." Her palm loved the unfamiliar grain of the cloth of his trousers, and underneath, the firm flesh of his buttock just beginning to flare. How tantalized her hand felt, the hand itself wishing it dare move down to know the curve of his butt. She glanced again at the side of his cheek, the binoculars trained on the city. His hair was a rich brown, and his freckles almost matched his hair.

She wanted to brush the field glasses aside, to stand in front of him ...

Four Spirits
A Novel
. Copyright © by Sena Naslund. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Four Spirits: A Novel by Sena Jeter Naslund
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Rewards Program

Write a Review