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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 (518 )
5 star
 (234)
4 star
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2 star
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Overall
4.0 (279 )
5 star
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3 star
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Story
4.0 (283 )
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
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Performance
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  •  
    Blind Blake 09-03-11
    Blind Blake 09-03-11

    Blind Blake

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    "Partly moving, partly sentimental to excess"

    What can one say about the writing of nobel laureate? I guess not much that won't overpraise and/or piss someone off. I can't say that I'm extremely knowledgeable about Toni Morrison's work (I've read only three of her novels, The Bluest Eye, Jazz and Beloved, so call me a philistine if it so pleases you), nor can I say that I dislike her work, because I expect that I will read more of her books; it's just that I don't feel any overwhelming desire to read everything she has written as soon as possible. Why is this the case? To say it a short way, in all three books by her that I've read, I've felt that she has made it her project to MAKE me sympathize with characters that I ALREADY feel sympathy for. There seems to be an assumption in Beloved that I won't already understand that the atrocities of slavery could drive a mother to kill her own child rather than have the child face those atrocities. Plus, in this book there seemed to be several token "good white" or "not as bad white" characters (for example, the first owner of the plantation Sethe lived and worked on and Amy, a kind of female Huckleberry Finn) who seem tacked into the narrative to give balance to a book that understandably contains numerous unsympathetic white characters. Beloved is a work of some degree of psychological complexity, but I did feel--please don't shoot me--that it was also a book of "sheeps and goats" or "wheat and chaff." This feeling was intensified after I read Edward P. Jones's The Known World, which I believe is a more powerful and moving work on account of the author's refusal to absolutely condemn or absolutely save any of his characters. Having said all this, I realize I'm nobody and my opinion really doesn't matter. Beloved still warrants four stars for its story because who the hell am I? Furthermore, Morrison's performance in this audiobook is exemplary, earning five stars for the lack of sentimentality in her voice in passages that could have been treacly. Peace.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Isabelle Middlesex, VT, United States 08-11-11
    Isabelle Middlesex, VT, United States 08-11-11 Member Since 2014
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    "Dark"

    This book is dark magical realism. I almost want to give it only three stars because it's so hyped and the story is disturbing at times; but at other times it's an entertaining.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa Jyväskylä, Finland 03-02-11
    Lisa Jyväskylä, Finland 03-02-11 Member Since 2013
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    "mesmerizing"

    I was a bit cautious about listening to rather than reading the book due to the poor reviews of the narration. But I found both the narration and the story mesmerizing. I've listened to a lot of audiobooks where professional narrators pretty much chirp the whole thing through with their 'story-telling voice' and stock of character accents. I'm so glad this was not read in that way. Morrison's voice is like soft syrup and held me in a trance for hours at a time. It made the most intense passages even more meaningful. It's a novel that will definitely stay with me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janice Budd Canada 12-22-10
    Janice Budd Canada 12-22-10 Member Since 2014
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    "Narration lowered my rating"

    Beloved is a haunting yet poetic portrayal of a woman who was a runaway slave, and who attempted to kill her 4 children to save them from the same fate.

    The story begins about 18 years after the tragedy. Slowly, Sethe's story of despair is revealed, and the ultimate sacrifice of love - that to kill one's child to keep him/her "safe" - is explained. Was it right? Was it wrong? This is the moral dilemna that is passed on to the reader to decide.

    I did not give this a 5 star rating because there were some parts that I found too confusing to understand, specifically, when Beloved explained who she was.

    I listened to this book narrrated by the author, Toni Morrison. My rating reflects the impact she had on reading the story. I found her phrasing too choppy. She would take a breath in the middle of a phrase, making it sound disjointed and like she was out of breath. There was little inflection in her voice to differentiate emotion or characters. It was difficult to determine who was speaking in a conversation. At times, the lack of inflection and emotion added to the bleakness, giving it a chilling perspective. If I read any of her other books, it will not be in an audiobook format.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada 05-22-10
    Steve coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada 05-22-10
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    "Amazing!"

    Amazing Voice!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Santa Barbara, CA, USA 12-12-09
    Michael Santa Barbara, CA, USA 12-12-09 Member Since 2009
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    "Beloved"

    I can understand that Ms. Morrison should read her book, as a historical document. Her enormous talent is writing, definitely not reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nelson Mostow Cleveland ohio 07-12-09
    Nelson Mostow Cleveland ohio 07-12-09 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "OK book, terrible narration"

    The book concerns a family of African Americans who grew up in slavery in the south and escaped to Cincinatti, Ohio where they lived, free in principle but still enslaved by their terrible past experiences.

    As a book of that genre I suppose it was ok. It is hard to tell. The narrator, who is the author, has such an obnoxiously affected style of reading it was very hard to get past that and focus on the story. My advice is simple. If you want to read the book, read it, don't listen to this narration of it! I say this having listened to many books (probably close to 100 over the past 10 years) and I am absoultely addicted to listening to books. With few exceptions, the narrator has been transparent and the novel spoke for itself. This was a painfully notable exception.

    3 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cinza West Coast 09-24-12
    Cinza West Coast 09-24-12

    Cinza

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    "I cant believe anyone ever gave this less than 5"
    What disappointed you about Beloved?

    Nothing disappointed me about Beloved..
    It was Beautiful in every mysterious way. I think Beloved is her best work and the reading of it is magic...To listen to it in the evening with soft light is perfect.
    Toni Morrison reads the story knowing it inside out.. from the deep.

    Most readers are superficial story tellers ...
    Tony Morrison is the breath of the story as she reads..


    Would you ever listen to anything by Toni Morrison again?

    I might listen to more, but I have read other books by Toni Morrison I dont find them quite as magnificent


    Would you be willing to try another one of Toni Morrison’s performances?

    Yes, she is amazing.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    AWE... just plain awe
    I have always been in awe of this book .. at the story, her telling of it.
    Her knowing from inside the story.Many book readers are annoying as they are reading and their characters are just different voices, never with the punch I would read the story and feel for myself.


    Any additional comments?

    Loved it and as I said.. I cant imagine anyone giving this reading less than 5 stars!I'm glad I got the chance to chime in.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    michael O BRIEN, OR, United States 08-30-12
    michael O BRIEN, OR, United States 08-30-12 Member Since 2011
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    "amazing"
    Would you listen to Beloved again? Why?

    perhaps the best book ever written. Toni Morrison's voice is stunning. This book and audio is a must!


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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