ISBN #: 978-1400033416
Page Count: 321
Copyright: June 8, 2004
Publisher: Vintage; 2004 Edition
(Taken from Amazon)
Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe's new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement.
(Originally posted on her personal blog, Grown Up Book Reports, on 10/13/13)
Every sentence is poetry.
It's thick and dense and sometimes unpleasant to wade through, but every sentence has the promise of a poem. The language is so rich and vibrant, and so full of emotion and hurt and mystery, that you need to take your time while you read this one, lest the words pass you by.
It is appropriate to read this during October, because there is a supernatural element to the story, in the form of the titular character, Beloved. The protagonist, Sethe, is haunted by the death of her young daughter, who was killed by Sethe's own hand in order to save her from a life of torture similar to the life she lived in this post-Civil War world. Only the word "Beloved" was etched on the child's grave. The house where Sethe lives with her daughter Denver, is possessed by a malevolent spirit that seems to suck the very life out of the inhabitants - until one day Paul D, a man from Sethe's past, banishes the spirit. Days later, a young woman shows up, named Beloved, and seems to have an unhealthy obsession for Sethe. Does her presence help or heal Sethe?
The book winds through past and present, describing the torture and inhumane conditions of slavery experienced by Sethe, Paul D, and other characters in the book. It tells of their escape to freedom and the dangers experienced along the way. But the story transitions past to present to past without warning and at times it is difficult to know what time period we are in.
This is an amazing book, written artfully and passionately by Toni Morrison. It's one I think any student of literature should put on their lifetime bucket list of must-reads.
As a side note, this completes my "Back to the Classics" challenge for the year (with the exception of the alternates).