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Beloved Hardcover – 7 September 2006
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Mercurial imagination and brilliantly elegant prose...She has the ability to shock and entrance, episode by episode, which is the hallmark of a genuine writer ― The Guardian
Toni Morrison's writing is a train that knows where it's going, fierce and fast-moving in narrative, lyrically showy in description ― Sunday Times
About the Author
A.S. Byatt is a novelist, short-story writer and critic of international renown. Her novels include Possession (winner of the Booker Prize 1990), the Frederica Quartet and The Children’s Book, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction. She was appointed CBE in 1990 and DBE in 1999, and was awarded the Erasmus Prize 2016 for her ‘inspiring contribution to life writing’ and the Pak Kyongni Prize 2017. In 2018 she received the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award.
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- ASIN : 1857152689
- Publisher : Everyman (7 September 2006)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 360 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781857152685
- ISBN-13 : 978-1857152685
- Item Weight : 500 g
- Dimensions : 13.5 x 2.7 x 21 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #159,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from India
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First impression rating: 2/5
Rating after pondering over the complexities of the book: 4/5
Working in Sweet Home as a slave, she starts a family with Halle; her dreams are but a fleeting flicker of hope. Abysmally abused by her new owners, she succeeds in escaping her gnarled life and arrives at 124 with her new-born daughter Denver whom she delivers through her getaway. A dismal turn of events and she murders her eldest daughter gripped by a looming premonition. She engraves the headstone of her daughter with a single word- "Beloved". She is thereafter taken to prison.
These events set into tune the story where the inhabitants of 124 have started to dwindle due to the malignity of the spirit of Sethe's dead daughter. Her two boys- Howard and Buglar run away, her mother in law- always a charismatic presence dies. She is left in that infernal house with Denver until the arrival of Paul D and a mysterious girl who calls herself Beloved.
Sethe considers Beloved her resurrected daughter and gradually edges to the quagmire of insanity. However she is finally pulled out of those depths by people who love her.
The only confusing thing is Beloved. That's why we call this genre magical realism.
Anyway, the copy that I received has very poor quality pages and the cover gives it off as a pirated copy. I have no doubt that the seller meant to gain a heavy profit by doing this. Receiving a pirated copy for a book that you're going to keep for years is incredibly disappointing. I hope other readers will be spared the same fate.
“She told them that the only grace they could have was the grace they could imagine. That if they could not see it, they would not have it."
Top reviews from other countries
The American Toni Morrison won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. Beloved, her fifth book, was inspired by a true story about a slave-mother in the mid-nineteenth century (called Sethe in the novel), who escaped across the river Ohio to the free city of Cincinnati, just before the Civil War.
There are four principal voices, about whom we learn as much from how they talk as what they say. There is a shocking central narrative, which darts back and forth in time like the unfolding of a shared trauma in group psychoanalytic sessions. The African-Americans who tell the story are profoundly instinctive and generally terrified of 'whitepeople', who are usually seen as non-human.
Other characters are also brought to life, such as the slave-owner, 'Schoolteacher', or the old-timer and ex-slave, 'Stamp Paid'. Though hers is not the pivotal character in the story, Sethe's daughter Denver became (for me) the anchor, as the most sympathetic and rounded person, who eventually frees herself from mental subjugation.
Ghosts are flesh and blood entities in Beloved. Sethe's daughter (called Beloved) reappears after many years, despite having been killed when an infant by her mother, who did not want her baby to be captured by a vicious slave-owner. This incident had led to Sethe and her family being shunned by their community. As in South Africa under apartheid, oppression can lead not to solidarity amongst the oppressed but to fierce mutual suspicion. This feels more realistic than the somewhat simplistic characterisations in the Oscar-winning film, 12 Years A Slave.
Occasionally the novel can be obscure. But this minor fault is massively outweighed by the imaginative writing which brings to life the hemmed-in and yet freely-roaming mindsets of the central characters.
Admittedly It took me a bit of time to get into this book. Though once I got the gist of the lingo and the "tongue" in my head, it was a joy to read and difficult to put the book down.
The book is set in Cincinnati 1873 and the story is based Seethe, who is a runaway slave, trying to get herself, her children, friend's and husband to his mother's a free slave, where Seethe's cannat least raise her children in a free society and can offer sanctuary.
The story highlights the brutality of the slave in order to give luxury, lust and riches to the white man.
What sacrifices, especially a slave mother would do to protect her children and highlight the discrimination and lynching even after slavery was abolished.
In this story, we follow Seethe, a slave, wife and a mother of four children battle to get all to the safety of her mother in law named Baby Suggs - freed by her owner Mr Garner and paid for by her Son, Halle, Seethe husband.
Living on a farm called sweet home, the owners Mr and Mrs Garner are kind and reasonable to the slave's they have. Until things change and another master comes to the farm with strict and brutal tactics, a plan is made by the slaves to escape to freedom.
The escape doesn't go to plan to everyone. Whitemen are patrolling to capture runaways. When Seethe see's them at Baby Suggs house and knows that no place is a safe and free place, she takes action to keep her babies safe and free from the pain and trauma a slave life brings, though when her baby dies, Seethe is haunted for the rest of her life.
When Paul D, a fellow companion (slave) from sweet home tracks down Seethe many years later, he manages to banish the haunting, though Seethe free in body, is not free in spirit and mind and is still haunted by her past. However, Beloved turns up and Seethe, it seems, is able to put her demons to rest after the pain of bringing them to the surface.
I loved the story, the writing style and use of language and description.
Reaching the end of the story, you do wonder if Beloved was everyone's haunting, a life lesson and a mutual understanding of the sacrifices made by Seethe. As Beloved seemed to open everyone's eye's, open up painful memories that still enslave Seethe and shackle her to the experience of being a slave. Or was Beloved plotting something else to punish Seethe further for allowing her to justify Seethe's actions. It's a very thought provoking story!
Toni Morrison has also written
The Bluest Eye
Song of Solomon
God Help the Child
Around this central theme are a number of close family members and slaves with common histories. All of the characters are portrayed with powerfully emotional lives that really made me, a white male in his 60s, get some sense of the tortured lives imposed on such individuals. I can only imagine the impact of this book on those with an African American heritage.
The book is not an easy read as the story is told in a non-linear fashion and through the eyes of multiple characters. This keeps the reader of their toes, but makes the story ultimately a more involving read.
I can understand why this is considered a classic.