Beloved

Paperback, 327 pages

English language

Published May 17, 1988 by Pan Books 1988. (Picador).

ISBN:
978-0-330-30537-2
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4 stars (87 reviews)

Beloved is a 1987 novel by the American writer Toni Morrison. Set after the American Civil War, it tells the story of a family of former slaves whose Cincinnati home is haunted by a malevolent spirit. Beloved is inspired by a true life incident involving Margaret Garner, an escaped slave from Kentucky who fled to the free state of Ohio in 1856, but was captured in accordance with the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. When U.S. Marshals burst into the cabin where Garner and her husband had barricaded themselves, they found that she had killed her two-year-old daughter and was attempting to kill her other children to spare them from being returned to slavery.

Morrison had come across an account of Garner titled "A Visit to the Slave Mother who Killed Her Child" in an 1856 newspaper article published in the American Baptist, and reproduced in The Black Book; a …

17 editions

Review of 'Beloved' on 'Storygraph'

5 stars

This is an important book, I appreciate its genius, I’m glad I read it and I think everyone else should too, but it’s difficult to say I enjoyed it. It may be the most emotionally draining book I’ve ever read.

Running through the book is a ghost story about the spirit of a murdered child who comes back to demand the love she thinks she’s been denied, but it’s much more than that. The main story is slowly revealed through a tangle of flashbacks, showing the unremitting, dehumanising horror of slavery, which is so all consuming that one person cannot live through it unbroken. It takes the generosity and love of the whole community to redeem things at the end.

It’s a beautifully written book; every page is poetry and the characters are wonderful. This is the second Toni Morrison book I’ve read, and I will certainly read more.

Review of 'Beloved' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

"To Sethe, the future was a matter of keeping the past at bay."

This will be a short review, not because I have nothing to say about it, but because all of the other 5 star reviews here do a better job than I ever could at summarizing what makes this such a good read. It is a hard read and a dense read, and I will freely admit to anyone who asks that I very nearly DNF'd this book early on because I wasn't sure I was understanding it. My only advice for anyone who tries this book out is to stick with it. It starts making a small bit of sense, then a larger bit of sense, and then suddenly pieces start falling together and you're now seeing why this book is so highly regarded. It was a very weird, very satisfying feeling.

All I'll say about this …

Wow

5 stars

I love Toni Morrison. That's it. This book was a punch in the gut, a mysterious cloud of strong, hearthy smell envelopping you, the strongest and sweetest dark liquor, all given to you by the softest hands. Her style, oh her style! 🙌 You would not believe she was telling you the most heartwrenching goth story about a mother's love and slavery.

I'm a Toni Morrison stan.

Review of 'Beloved' on 'Goodreads'

1 star

I read this book for a book club in April 2021. I did not start the book until I had submitted my term papers for the previous term, which only left me a few days to read this—I ended up not finishing it in time for the meeting, of course. (I had about 4 days, and this ended up taking me 13 days to read. I was in the hospital for some of that and very reluctant to pick this back up, but still.) Well, I at least appreciated the group discussions as they helped me understand the themes and plot of the novel a bit more. The first part of Beloved, I was completely ‘lost in the sauce’ as they say. Morrison loves to drop you in the middle of things without any warning or acclimation period. I had read The Bluest Eye, so I thought I …

Review of 'Beloved' on 'Storygraph'

5 stars

Beloved begins as a slow-burning and haunting story about living on after the worst days, slowing winding around how to tell those days without shattering again.

The story rotates narrators and jumps back and forth in time in a way that was a little confusing at first, but the narrators have distinct voices and there’s mostly just Now and one big past event for each narrator as far as jumping around in time is concerned, so it became pretty easy to keep track of where the story was. The lack of demarcation with each switch helped to build the feeling that the past isn’t really gone for any of them. The story is about reckoning with the past in different ways, and how they deal with it. It’s also a ghost story, a haunting of the past refusing to leave. As the story develops it begins depicting the past events …

Review of 'Beloved' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Ein Buch mit vielen großartigen, souveränen Stellen, leider vor allem da, wo es um Leid und Verbrechen geht. Die positiven Stellen sind grotesker Kitsch. Nach den ersten 40 Prozent hat mir das Wechselbad keinen Spaß mehr gemacht und ich habe nur aus Pflichtgefühl zu Ende gelesen, drei Sterne als Kompromiss für "teilweise fünf Sterne, teilweise einer".

Review of 'Beloved' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Morrison's prose is powerful and really drew me in, but there is one scene of graphic violence (infanticide) that made me put the book down and not finish it. Friends have since told me that there is no more violence like this after that part, but I still don't feel like going back to it... I'm just a bit sensitive when it comes to that. Nonetheless, I feel that Morrison is a powerful writer and really deserves to be read.

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