Paradise

Narrated by: Toni Morrison
Length: 6 hrs and 26 mins
4 out of 5 stars (125 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"Rumors had been whispered for more than a year. Outrages that had been accumulating all along took shape as evidence. A mother was knocked down the stairs by her cold-eyed daughter. Four damaged infants were born in one family. Daughters refused to get out of bed. Brides disappeared on their honeymoons. Two brothers shot each other on New Year's Day. Trips to Demby for VD shots common. And what went on at the Oven these days was not to be believed.... The proof they had been collecting since the terrible discovery in the spring could not be denied: the one thing that connected all these catastrophes was in the Convent. And in the Convent were those women." 

In Paradise - her first novel since she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature - Toni Morrison gives us a bravura performance. As the book begins deep in Oklahoma early one morning in 1976, nine men from Ruby (pop. 360), in defense of "the one all-black town worth the pain", assault the nearby Convent and the women in it. From the town's ancestral origins in 1890 to the fateful day of the assault, Paradise tells the story of a people ever mindful of the relationship between their spectacular history and a void "Out There...where random and organized evil erupted when and where it chose."

Richly imagined and elegantly composed, Paradise weaves a powerful mystery.

©1999 Toni Morrison (P)2009 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Morrison has brought it all together: the poetry, the emotion, the broad symbolic plan.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“A fascinating story, wonderfully detailed.... The town is the stage for a profound and provocative debate.” (Los Angeles Times)

“Everything is resonant here: the most casual gestures are informed by the facts and myths of genders and race, by our notions of civilization and lawlessness, body and spirit, Christianity and witchcraft. Morrison’s lyrical prose displays great confidence in her readers’ intelligence, demands their unflagging attention, and rewards them generously—with a memorable work of epic range and monumental ambition.” (People)

What listeners say about Paradise

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interestingly Bizarre

I read Paradise with my book club. Many had a difficult times making sense of it. I had to listen twice myself. There are a lot characters and it is difficult to keep up with who is who. Over all it was an interestingly bizarre story that introduces you to the strangest group of people. Morrison did make me curious about all these troubled people but it disappointed me by ending so with many unanswered questions.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Should not have been abridged

This story is very complex and therefore not a great candidate for abridgement. I read it multiple times in attempts to understand certain parts. There are numerous references in this version that go completely ungrounded since portions of the original which explained them are omitted. One example is the mention of the eye color of a lion cub that bit one of the characters in a dream. It's totally meaningless in this version of the book because the reader is not informed that it was part of a series of vivid dreams the character had been experiencing. It seems unnecessarily random without context. Toni Morrison is not an author that can be easily abridged effectively.

Recommendation: If you're in a hurry to finish the book then maybe she's not the author for you.

That said, I do not regret reading this version and do not suggest others avoid it. But I will warn that there will be concepts in the book that, no matter how many times a person reads (or listens to) this version of the book, are not possible to fully understand without referring to the unabridged version--a particularly troubling notion for me, personally, since I tend to seek full understanding of what I read, or as full as possible. Reading the full version after the abridged gave me an entirely new appreciation for the story.

1 person found this helpful

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Grandma Morrison reading at Bedtime

Morrison reading her own words gives deeper depth to the story. The attitudes of each character come forth from her deliberate cadence. It's so worth the 25 bucks.






1 person found this helpful

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Great Story (Abridged)

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Not well spent because the story was abridged. I like to read the books alongside of the text. The author kept skipping over segments of the book.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Paradise?

The opening of the book will capture the listener/reader. "They shoot the white girl first."

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

The author is the best reader for the project.

Could you see Paradise being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

I would love to see it in film.

1 person found this helpful

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This is the abridged version

I enjoyed it overall, but would have liked to be aware that this was the abridged version. Overall I enjoyed it!

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what the...?

The author should not read her works. She read in such a monotone that I had a very difficult time following the storyline

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Raiding Life

After being ravaged by the titillating voice and graphic vocabulary of the author, I found myself lost in a sea of personal diaries and historical sequences that took a second reading just to capture pieces of the plot. No complaints though since the second visit to “Ruby” was even better than the first. Which I concluded by reading a Wikipedia study of the summary of the plot only to long for the experience once again of walking along the tragic yet melancholy lives of its inhabitants and almost citizens. The metaphors in Ms Morrison’s work are sculptures of the soul and the jazz rhythms of her narrative with their syncopated messages that tell you their meaning backwards while revealing it to you is like the push and pull of intercourse. This work is mystical, magical and blasphemously symbolic. Ms Morrison is a literary gymnast and her art work is not intended for the faint of heart! Captivating read that raids the heart and soul of the unsuspecting voyeur. Thanks

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Abridged...

For some reason or another Morrison does not want to read all that she has written. It makes it difficult to follow along with the text, as she skips paragraphs at a time. The confusing thing is if she did not like these lines why write them?

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Waste of money

Same version of book so I was planning on reading it and listening at same time but the audio is different from the book

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Where to start

Would you try another book from Toni Morrison and/or Toni Morrison?

I was very disappointed in the reading of this book, she does not go word for word and even skips paragraphs and pages of the detailed information which made this EXTREMMELY HARD TO FOLLOW, AS if this story was not hard enough to catch on to. Needless to say I made it half way through and gave up entirely, not even curious how it ends because the end is in the 1st sentence. She seems brilliant as I heard her speak in an interview apparently she was simply a bit over my head.