Saturday, April 2, 2016

Beloved - book review

As part of my goal to read all the Pulitzer Prize winners in fiction, I recently completed the 1988 winner, Beloved by Toni Morrison. (Warning - there are some spoilers in my review below!)


Beloved is the story of Sethe, a former runaway slave who now lives in a two-story house with her daughter Denver. Shortly after Sethe escaped slavery and moved into the house with her mother-in-law and four small children, her former master came searching for her. To avoid her children being taken back to the cruelty she experienced, she attempts to kill them, succeeding once as she slits the throat of her little girl. The former owner does not take her or the other children back as he can see that she is now crazed and the children maimed or dead. The remainder of the story in essence is about how the dead baby haunts the house for many years and eventually returns to the house as a young woman.

I have mixed feelings about this book. This was definitely a thought-provoking and intense novel. On one hand, it is a well-written story that reveals tales of the past a little at a time so the reader can see the atrocities experienced by the slaves and possibly understand their current actions. The suspense alone was enough to keep me reading. On the other hand, it contains many scenes of baseness and vulgarity (rapes, beatings, sex, murders), a house haunted by a destructive ghost, and mental instability so severe that even I'm still not sure if the young woman was the resurrected baby or a figment of the characters' imaginations!

Have you read this book? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

4 comments:

Karen said...

No, I've never read it. I didn't think I could deal with all the violence, but it's one I think I SHOULD have read. Your review convinces me that I probably won't change my mind, however.

Barbara Eads said...

I've read other books by Toni Morrison and they can be brutal. But I always find that I learn something important from them. I'll have to add this one to my ever-growing list!

Dana S. said...

I remember this book and the movie Oprah made. I haven't read it or watched it because there was just too much "raw"ness to it. The thought provoking part is what makes the book so will loved, I guess, but I really prefer nicely written fluffy, to be honest!

Juliann in WA said...

I read this book when it first came out and what has stuck with me is the story and the people. I had forgotten about the more brutal parts. I remember feeling that I wanted to push my reading range and read a few of her other books too.