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Beloved, by Toni Morrison

with 10 comments

I’ve read three books by Toni Morrison: The Bluest Eye, which I thought was fantastic; A Mercy, which I was terribly disappointed by; and finally, Beloved. Though The Bluest Eye might still be my favorite of Morrison’s works so far, I did really like Beloved and am pleased to have placed Morrison back on my better side.

Sethe, abandoned by her sons and suffering the recent passing of her mother, lives as freely as an escaped slave can in a cabin with her daughter, Denver, and Paul D, a man whom Sethe had known in her earlier days at Sweet Home plantation who has recently re-entered her life. But they are not quite alone in the house…there’s something else there, something unhappy. They are haunted, definitely, by the lingering spirit of slavery. But, in Sethe’s case, that diffuse spirit seems to have taken a form specific to her past and to her own escape from Sweet Home. As we learn more about Sethe’s history, the surreality of life in their creaky house builds to a palpable tension, begging to be put forcibly to rest.

Sethe’s history, and the history of U.S. slavery is, of course brutal, and Morrison’s sickeningly sweet way of telling it makes it only more difficult to swallow. Likewise, something about the element of magical surrealism in this story made it seem all the more likely. Well, excepting the chapters towards the end that are narrated by Beloved, anyway. Those were a bit too much for me. In any case, I found Beloved to be an absorbing read; one that left me with a tensed jaw and the feeling that I’d been punched in the gut.

Recommended to those new to Morrison or similarly disheartened by her most recent release.

Written by Emily Jane

April 18, 2011 at 1:06 am

Posted in Novels

Tagged with ,

10 Responses

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  1. Great review Emily ,I ve yet to read Morrison ,I really keep saying I should sure I will at some point ,I think this is one people like the most ,all the best stu


    April 18, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    • Thanks Stu! Yeah, it seems that this one is most people’s favorite. Worth a read!

      Emily Jane

      April 19, 2011 at 1:06 am

  2. >>>one that left me with a tensed jaw and the feeling that I’d been punched in the gut.

    I felt exactly like this too, but without the feeling that it had been an absorbing read. For me, the events of the book were so upsetting that my mind refused to engage with it. I just felt sick to my stomach and wasn’t able to get into the plot and characters.


    April 19, 2011 at 12:37 am

    • Oh no! That, without the feeling of absorption, sounds like a wholly unpleasant experience. I’ve felt that about other books, so I know how it is 😦

      Emily Jane

      April 19, 2011 at 1:08 am

  3. I’ve yet to read Beloved but because of how powerful and gut-punching her works can be, I’m waiting to be in the right mood for it. I read Love and wrote my BA thesis on it, so I’d really recommend that one 🙂


    April 20, 2011 at 8:10 pm

  4. An author I’m planning on trying at some point soon. Thanks for reminding me 🙂


    April 24, 2011 at 1:18 pm

  5. I have read two Morrisons: Beloved and Song of Solomon and I love both, though I love the former more than the latter. I just received, today, a book package from a friend and in it is ‘The Bluest Eyes’. Now I know I am going to read another interesting Morrison. What I love about Morrison is her use of language. It’s unique and it makes her prose read like poetry.

    Nana Fredua-Agyeman

    October 5, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    • I think Song of Solomon will be my next Morrison 🙂 I love her use of language too. You are in good hands with The Bluest Eye!

      Emily Jane

      October 9, 2011 at 1:14 am

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