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Beloved | [Toni Morrison]

Beloved

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 18 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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 18 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.

Toni Morrison is the Robert F. Goheen Professor of Humanities at Princeton University. She has received the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize. In 1993 she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. She lives in Rockland County, New York, and Princeton, New Jersey.

©1987 Toni Morrison; (P)1998 Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Toni Morrison is not just an important contemporary novelist but a major figure in our national literature." (New York Review of Books)
"A masterwork....Wonderful....I can't imagine American literature without it." (Los Angeles Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (587 )
5 star
 (269)
4 star
 (136)
3 star
 (93)
2 star
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1 star
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Overall
4.1 (342 )
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3 star
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Story
4.0 (348 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (29)
Performance
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  •  
    Di Tulsa, OK, USA 07-12-09
    Di Tulsa, OK, USA 07-12-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    5
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    "Mesmerizing"

    I loved hearing Toni Morrison read "Beloved". It was very difficult to read the book because it is so intense, but when Toni Morrison started reading the audio book, I was hynotized. Hearing the author read gave the book the proper cadence.
    This is a great book for discussion, but be warned, it isn't light reading.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Mazz Hyattsville, MD United States 03-04-07
    M. Mazz Hyattsville, MD United States 03-04-07 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Spellbinding"

    While I found a few of the internal monologues over-long, I belive my time was well-spent reading this book. About the author as reader - as a life-long listener of talking books for the blind, I had no difficulty following Ms. Morrison's rendition of her work, tracking the characters, and the shifts in the story. In particular, she read with sufficient range and emotion to keep me interested in the book and her reading did not interfere with my ability to freely interpret the story for myself. I find that amateur readers often over dramatize. In the case of this powerful story, I imagine Ms. Morrison understood that the story was weighty enough without added emotion.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah Danville, CA, USA 07-06-09
    Sarah Danville, CA, USA 07-06-09 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    5
    1
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    "Mislead"

    I purchased this audiobook despite the reviews here and the fact that some of my least favorite audiobooks have been read by their authors. Two words describe the author's voice in this reading: authentic and beautiful. Thank goodness I trusted my sneaking hunch and gave it a try.

    12 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kleete Rozelle, Australia 03-01-15
    Kleete Rozelle, Australia 03-01-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "Beautiful , powerful book"

    Loved it - mesmerising, so sad, lovely descriptions , harrowing back stories. The reading by the author is also beautiful - something that should be fine more often !





    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jackie 05-05-14
    jackie 05-05-14 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "horrible narriation"
    Would you try another book from Toni Morrison and/or Toni Morrison?

    not if she's the narrator


    Has Beloved turned you off from other books in this genre?

    no, however it was hard to even understand the book.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Toni Morrison?

    Nicole Small


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    no


    Any additional comments?

    no

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie Vancouver, BC, Canada 03-31-14
    Julie Vancouver, BC, Canada 03-31-14 Member Since 2013

    I'm a writer and a yoga teacher with a Masters in English Literature.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
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    21
    17
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    "Some of it breezes past you"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Beloved to be better than the print version?

    No, this is one of the few books I would say would be better in the text version. It's very subtle and layered, there is a disconnectedness to the narrative that is important to the theme of the consequences of slavery, but it's difficult to follow if you lose a word or phrase that turns out to be key, or if you can't pause and reread a paragraph a few times to get it.


    What other book might you compare Beloved to and why?

    My experience with the Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet was that I was at first a bit confused, but the story unfolded for me effortlessly by simply continuing to listen. That didn't happen for me with Beloved. I got to the end, thought "...what?" and restarted it from the beginning right away. I had to google it to understand what the heck just happened.


    Have you listened to any of Toni Morrison’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I haven't, but I love her voice, it's so gorgeous. Even though I feel like I missed a lot of the narrative, I really enjoyed listening, and certain images, moments, and phrases stick with me even now.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    There are many moving moments in the book, it's very detailed and beautifully written.


    Any additional comments?

    I'd like to try the book again in print, but I appreciate having listened to Toni Morrison's voice.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Indianapolis, IN, United States 02-16-14
    Susan Indianapolis, IN, United States 02-16-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    "Loved it!"
    If you could sum up Beloved in three words, what would they be?

    Happy, sad, angry


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Beloved?

    When Setha was telling about the delivery of Denver.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Denver telling of them ice skating.


    If you could take any character from Beloved out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Baby Suggs


    Any additional comments?

    I have read the book a couple times, have watched the movie a few times and now I have listened to the audio book. Toni Morrison is a great writer and I love the way she "read" the book. To me she wasn't reading to me she was telling me a story. I loved listening to her voice. I also appreciated her not changing her voice for each of the characters. I will definitely be listening to this one again. Thank you MS. Morrison.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donna grants pass, OR, USA 03-07-09
    Donna grants pass, OR, USA 03-07-09 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
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    "Listen to sample before purchase"

    I have read several of Toni Morrison's books and loved her writing. I purchased Sula and Beloved and put Tar Baby on my wish list. I will never purchase a book again without listening to a sample. Toni Morrison is a terrible reader; slow with frequent pauses, and at times difficult to hear what was being read. I suffered through Sula and after 20 minutes gave up on Beloved. I have never made any comments on books purchased, but this was so bad I felt compelled to warn others.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Renata los gatos, CA, USA 08-30-07
    Renata los gatos, CA, USA 08-30-07 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "A deeply moving tale"

    I found Beloved to be a rich and compelling tale. It brought out for me the vulnerability and helplessness of people bound in slavery like no other book has done. At the same time there was humanity and hopefulness and love. I think this book should be required reading for all people. It is written in a style that may at first be confusing. Ms. Morrison does not spell things out in chronological order for us. But if you stay with it, you will find that she does
    wrap up each inner tale. I think it also helps to listen to it twice. As is often the case, the first time through you are caught up with the story, the second time you catch more of the nuances. I also loved listening to her voice, although it too takes a little patience until you learn her cadence. She hesitates as she reads, and often you think that she has finished a sentence only to find that it continues. But once your ear has figured that out, she is a pleasure and I believe her voice perfectly complements her story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    william c thill 06-03-06 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "One of the best ever"

    This is probably one of the best novels I've read, and the best one on audio as well. I was blown away when reading it ten years ago, and I am back there again in listening to Toni Morrison read her words. Her choices of words, cadence, and voice bring the listener face-to-face with the character's point of view, as effectively as any novel by James Joyce or Dostoyevsky, Nabokov. This is a must listen, in my opinion. One of the great remarkable achievements in literature, made even more remarkable by this reading. I am under it's spell.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • Claudia
    Sheffield, United Kingdom
    7/31/11
    Overall
    "Authors, stick to writing"

    A wonderful book, anything but wonderfully read. Toni Morrison is a great writer, and I couldn't wait to start listening to this reading. Sadly, I had to stop after about three hours. Once again, it became painfully obvious that good writers don't necessarily make good readers. Morrison's habit of taking a breath in the middle of a phrase is worse than irritating, it regularly obscures the meaning of sections of the book. I hoped I would get used to her truncated phrasing (a grass, blade), but could not manage it. What a shame. A convincing reading of the characters' Black English speech would have added greatly to an intriguing book that lingers in the mind.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Debra
    Coulsdon, United Kingdom
    1/30/11
    Overall
    "Powerful writing - matched by powerful reading!"

    Authors don't necessarily make the best readers of their own work - but this is a notable exception. Toni Morrison has a sinuous and persuasive way of presenting her story and the voices are full and compelling. As for the story itself; strong, poetic, challenging. Sethe is a freed slave in 19th century America who is living with the consequences of her own actions and the oppression of the past on her present. It is told with clarity and passion - but there is also tenderness and hope, and mystery in its depiction of the child 'Beloved.'

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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