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Beloved by Toni Morrison


Beloved
by Toni Morrison

(Audio)

Going into this, I knew nothing about this book apart from a friend who couldn't get through it, a coworker who recommended it, and its brief mention in a season one episode of QaF. I read this because it was a classic I hadn't read before, and I'm glad I did. The subject matter was dark and disturbing, but the prose was all kinds of gorgeous. The fact that Toni Morrison reads the audio book made it all the more beautiful. The rhythm and power behind the words was impossible to escape.

This is the store of Sethe, a former slave and a mother. The ghost of her young daughter who died years ago haunts her and her house as a lingering presence. But then she actually physically shows up one day. This is the story of Sethe's past, present, and future, told in bits and pieces, out of order and sometimes without narrative, only emotion and feeling. Sometimes it's hard to believe what's happening. Sometimes it's hard to watch what's happening. But you can't help feeling for the characters-- Denver, Paul D, Baby Suggs, Sethe, and of course Beloved. They all deserve a chance at life, but not all of them get it.

I was pulled this way and that emotionally why reading. It was a pleasure to listen to the beautiful prose, but that was juxtiposed against some horrible images--desperation of humanity, heartsickness, unconditional love, uncontrollable fear, and unshakable regert. The sort of all-encompassing regret that WOULD haunt and destroy. I admit there were some times I wanted to pause the audio and just contemplate the words, try to figure out all of what they meant. There are some lines in there that could be analyzed endlessly.

I can't say I loved the book, but I definitely embraced it, learned from it, felt from it. I did enjoy the language. And I am extremely glad I finally read it.

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