Beloved - Toni Morrison

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Beloved - Toni Morrison

It is the mid-1800s. At Sweet Home in Kentucky, an era is ending as slavery comes under attack from the abolitionists. The worlds of Halle and Paul D....

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Review of "Beloved - Toni Morrison"

published 10/11/2009 | oldchem
Member since : 30/05/2009
Reviews : 410
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Pro Compelling story that is destined to be a classic.
Cons Emotionally draining, a hard read
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"Slavery Made Real"



Is there anyone who has not come across 'Beloved'?

If there is I would really recommend that you beg, borrow or steal (perhaps not steal!) a copy and read is ASAP.

This book written by Nobel and Pulitzer prize-winning author Toni Morrison is an incredible, albeit disturbing book.
This book is extraordinary on so many different levels, it is one that you will never forget, I guarantee that.

This book is very graphic - it tells of murders, sex, rape and slavery-related situations with great detail. You might find yourself sickened at the extent of the details, as I did; however this is intricate to the story and to the reader understanding the facts.

'Beloved' is about the effort of an escaped slave called Sethe, to love, raise and be responsible for her children.
After 28 days of freedom, Sethe is about to be found and she makes a horrific decision, to kill her children rather than see them live in slavery.

Unfortunately, Ms. Morrison got the idea from a true story about a captured runaway slave who did just that in 1851. The actual woman and Sethe, the protagonist in Beloved, both knew all too well that in slavery, there would be nothing that, as mothers, they could do for their children. This was the one act of love that they would be able to perform and the only way they knew of to protect them. This is such a great book, how do I tell you exactly what this book actually is.
  • Beloved is a really scary ghost story.
  • Beloved is the story of the love between Mother and children
  • Beloved is a history lesson.
  • Beloved is the story of love, anger; wounds that heal and wounds that are yet to be healed.
  • Beloved is the story of survivors picking up the pieces of their lives and trying to rebuild them.

"Beloved" is a compelling story of former slaves set in Cincinnati following the Civil War.
The story, part of which is told in flashbacks, focuses on the lives of Sethe and Denver, a family escaped from slavery, trying to establish their life. The book's focus surrounds the spirit of Sethe's dead baby Beloved. When Sethe and her living daughter, Denver are confronted with Beloved's spirit in the form of a young woman, the haunting begins.

While I was reading this book I would literally wake up in the middle of the night and imagine I'd seen Beloved standing beside my bed. The character was actually haunting me, but she haunted Sethe both physically and emotionally. This is not the book to be reading alone at night!

Everyone is haunted in this book and not just by Beloved. They all try to exorcise ghosts of enslavement, robbed dignity, physical pain, and their own inadequacies.

Beloved focuses on slavery, shocking the reader with various accounts of events that Sethe endured. It also focuses on the importance on family, how sometimes all we have is our family and without them we would be lost. And lastly, Beloved focuses on forgiveness and acceptance - learning to forgive and accept yourself for who you are is essential for others to do the same. As the character Paul D. says,
"you are your best thing."

There are two ways that you can read this book; one way is to read it as a ghost story - taking the characters and the plot for what they are. If you are looking for easy reading, this would be the way to read it, though you may find yourself trying to create reasons as to how ghosts could possibly exist.

The other way is to read it symbolically, if you focus on Beloved as a ghost but as a burden - a burden that Sethe is taking and must let go - then you will read the book in a whole new light.

You may be in disagreement with the decision Sethe made (many of the characters in the book certainly were). I doubt any of us could possibly know what we would do in the impossible and hopeless situation that Sethe was in.

Throughout the book, Sethe struggles with her motherhood, trying to mend it and understand her own actions, hopefully to put them to rest, I for one felt great sympathy for the character.

This was a hard book to read, not only for the content but also for the style of writing. At times I had to force myself to keep reading, but at others I couldn't stop. The grammar isn't wonderful, however, this book could not and should not be written any other way - when you are reading the dialogue from an uneducated ex-slave, and you cannot expect her to be grammatically correct. So just keep in mind that Morrison meant to write this book this way and you can ignore the grammatical faults.

The structure of this book is also confusing at times. Morrison jumps around without warning - one moment you're reading about a character and suddenly the character is remembering past events. It takes a bit of practice but eventually you can sort out the two. There are a few chapters towards the end of pure dialogue without any indication as to who is saying what. But if you've been paying attention, you'll be able to follow it well.

Even though this book was hard to read, I enjoyed it. I would recommend this book to anyone, apart from younger readers, as I think it's essential to read about slavery and the effects it had on people. Isn't there a saying that says that if we do not learn about the past, it could repeat itself?

This is one of those books that you feel the need to read again, and it is a book that really does improve on extra readings

I urge you all to read this book. You may think you know all there is to know about slavery. 'Beloved' will give you a completely different understanding and you will be changed by it.

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (21 Aug 1997)
Language English
ISBN-10: 0099760118
ISBN-13: 978-0099760115
Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.4 x 2.4 cm

What would YOU do to protect your children?

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Comments on this review

  • danielleg1989 published 12/11/2009
    Sounds like a very good book. Brilliant review x
  • elfbwillow published 11/11/2009
    Great review - i may just look out for this
  • Nothing-But-The-Truth published 11/11/2009
    Geat review. Sounds as if the bok is a bit disjointed.
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Product Information : Beloved - Toni Morrison

Manufacturer's product description

It is the mid-1800s. At Sweet Home in Kentucky, an era is ending as slavery comes under attack from the abolitionists. The worlds of Halle and Paul D. are to be destroyed in a cataclysm of torment and agony. The world of Sethe, however, is to turn from one of love to one of violence and death - the death of Sethe's baby daughter, Beloved, whose name is the single word on the tombstone, who died at her mother's hands, and who will return to claim retribution. From the PublisherThe novel powerfully portrays the meanings of what it means to be owned by another and the difficulty of owning oneself. Mythic in scope, Beloved is an attempt to grapple with the legacy of slavery.With a new introduction by A S Byatt See all Product Description

Product Details

Type: Fiction

Genre: Historical Fiction

Title: Beloved

Author: Toni Morrison

ISBN: 0099273934; 0099760118; 0375405623; 0451161394; 0452280621; 1857152689


Listed on Ciao since: 13/12/2002