Snakewoman of Little Egypt: A Novel

By Robert Hellenga
Publisher:Bloomsbury USA, (9/14/2010)

Average Rating:
5.00 out of 5 (1 Clubie's ratings)

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On the morning of her release from prison, Sunny, who grew up in a snakehandling church in the Little Egypt region of Southern Illinois, rents a garage apartment from Jackson. She's been serving a five-year sentence for shooting, but not killing, her husband, the pastor of the Church of the Burning Bush with Signs Following, after he forced her at gunpoint to put her arm in a box of rattlesnakes.

Sunny and Jackson become lovers, but they're pulled in different directions. Sunny, drawn to science and eager to put her snake handling past behind her, enrolls at the university. Jackson, however, takes a professional interest in the religious ecstasy exhibited by the snakehandlers. Push comes to shove in a novel packed with wit, substance, and emotional depth. Snakewoman of Little Egypt delivers Robert Hellenga at the top of his form.

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Alice_Wonder's thoughts on "Snakewoman of Little Egypt: A Novel"
updated on:12/26/2010

I am going to list this as one of the best books I have read in 2010. One of the main reasons is because it got me thinking about a number of different things and concepts. Hellenga does a good job of describing the geographic setting and the characters. I could tell at the beginning of the book that Prof. Jackson Jones would not be satisfied with his life back teaching at a midwestern university because he left his life in Africa among the Mbuti. He did not leave there voluntarily. He was an anthropology professor who "went native." Therefore, I was not surprised that although he approached the snake-handling church like an anthropologist, he soon changed to a participant from scientific observer.

I also could tell that he an Sunny, a young woman just released from prison, would be on a collision course. She was a young and vulnerable appearing woman. But, even more importantly, she is viewed by Jackson and another professor, Claire, as an empty slate and they are both ready to capture and shape Sunny's view of the world.

It was helpful to me to go onto and watch some of the videos that show actual services snakehandling churches and interviews with church members.


"Snakewoman of Little Egypt: A Novel"
By Robert Hellenga

Average Rating:
5.00 out of 5 (1 Clubie's ratings)

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