Beloved

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Thoughts beloved Beloved by Toni Morrison, Vintage Books 1987, 324 pages

WHY I READ THIS:  I have had Beloved on my tbr too long. I bookmooched it a year ago. Ever since, it has been one of those books that I have read the first couple of pages a million times. Something newer and flashier and louder somehow seemed to trump the baby ghost of 124 Bluestone Road.

THEN! Nymeth and Iris announce that January 2013 will be the month we finally get to those books we keep telling ourselves we want to read. I committed. And I am so glad I did.

They were not holding hands, but their shadows were.   – p.56

I found it amazing. The style is unique;  a layered approach both in character telling and in time tracing, we go back and forth like peeling garlic. Smash ’em, peel away the flimsy but oily sticky layers and try to get to the firm truth. The question is often asked:  WHERE is this going and do I really want to go there?

The main characters live in a house on the outskirts of Cincinnati Ohio a few years after the Civil War. Our protagonist is an escaped slave but she really can’t ever feel free. Honest and heart-breaking, good and evil everywhere, shaky & wild evolves into some of the most poetic and brutal and tender  passages I’ve ever read.

Daily life took as much as she had. The future was sunset; the past something to leave behind. And if it didn’t stay behind, well, you might have to stomp it out. Slave life; freed life – every day was a test and a trial. Nothing could be counted on in a world where even when you were a solution you were a problem.

“Shall we pray?” asked the women.

“Uh huh,” said Ella. “First. Then we got to get down to business.”   – p.302

RATING: Five slices of Blackberry Pie – made with the sweat and tears Stamp Paid paid to gather the sweetest best blackberries ever that started the big party that was ever so resented; the last time ‘Baby Suggs, holy’, was still herself before losing the faith and only wanting a little bit of color.

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If you haven’t read this, why not? And if you didn’t like it, why not?  Just curious.
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14 thoughts on “Beloved

  1. There are long awaited reads that have been on your shelf for forever, and then there are those that have been on your wishlist but somehow never made it to your shelves yet. I always wonder why I keep putting off both of those reads. I think this month has taught me that I really need to stop doing that as so many of my books have been marked as possible favourites for the rest of the year.

    I am so glad you ended up liking this one so much, even though the blackberry pie makes it sound as if its bittersweet (but a good and thoughtful kind, surely?)

  2. i swear on my soul, I just saw this book in my pile the other day and thought I should just pick up and begin. It’s not a long book, so what am I waiting for? thanks for the kick int he but!

    Skimmed your review as I didn’t want spoilers, but looking forward to the writing style. Glad you enjoyed it so much.

  3. Ooh, so glad to hear you enjoyed this! I’ve not read Toni Morrison – I think I am scared of her because of the dialect. But I bet she’d be great to do on audiobook, and I’ll start with this one, I think. Or.. whichever one is available earliest🙂

    1. I did not find the dialect to be too distracting or challenging – not like Their Eyes Were Watching God -challenging but if you are concerned, I think audio would probably be a terrific way to experience this.

  4. This book just did not do for me. I felt physically ill when I was reading it. I had to read it for college, and when we were discussing it in class I felt so nauseated I thought I was going to have to leave. I’ve never been affected by a book that way before or since, and I’ve read lots of incredibly sad books in my time! It was all too brutal.

    1. It IS brutal. And yet, I appreciated the author’s approach and telling of this. It was not sensationalized. Perhaps that is what makes it even more chilling. Her balance of the beauty with the not.

  5. I loved Beloved. Toni Morrison is a funny author for me, in that I’ve loved everything of hers that I’ve read and yet I’m always loathe to start the next one. She takes more brainpower than I sometimes want to commit.

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