Jones's first novel, Corregidora (1975), anticipated the wave of novels exploring the connections between slavery and the African American present. Ursa Corregidora, the novel's protagonist, is the great-grandchild of the Portuguese Brazilian slaveholder Simon Corregidora, who also raped her grandmother. Both Ursa's mother and grandmother make it their lives’ purpose to keep alive the history of their abuse and torture, and by extension that of African slaves in the New World. But their obsession with the past burdens Ursa, who struggles, as a singer, to find her own purpose in life. Even as she attempts to do so, she herself is trapped in abusive relationships.
The rape and incest that occurs between Great Gram, Gram and Simon can be read as complicating the notions of love and hate. Similarly, Ursa’s relationship with her husband Mutt also straddles the line between the two sentiments. These complex relationships give credence to the tension that sexual violence creates and efforts to differentiate pain from pleasure.
Sparse in language, relying on terse dialogue and haunting interior monologues, the novel stands in the naturalist tradition as it shows individuals fighting with historical forces beyond their control. However, the end of the novel justifies its status as a “blues” narrative exploring both the pain and the beauty of relationships by implying that psychological struggle and an unsparing confrontation of the past may lead to recovery.