Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

Beloved by Toni Morrison

BelovedFinished 7-18-12, rating 5/5, literature, 324 pages, pub. 1987

In Ohio seasons are theatrical.  Each one enters like a prima donna, convinced its performance is the reason the world has people in it. (p.136)

This is my fifth stop on my summer Ohio tour.  Toni Morrison was born in Ohio and this Pulitzer Prize winning novel takes place in Cincinnati.    I chose to read this because it was on my shelf, it was an Ohio book, and I could participate in Molly’s The Classic Bribe 2012.  Molly over at Quirky Girls Read is hosting this challenge to read a classic this summer.  If you do you can enter to win a $35 Amazon gift card.  Since I loved this book this challenge was a win-win for me.

This is the story of Sethe and the many people in her life.  Raised as a slave, she escaped with her children to Cincinnati where her mother-in-law was waiting and they all waited for Halle, Sethe’s husband and Baby Suggs son.  One day, Paul D from Sweet Home, came knocking at the door and brought with him unwelcome news. The story actually takes place in the years after the Civil War, but the flashbacks cover the years of slavery in the south.

I didn’t know anything before I started and I think the less you know the better.  This story about the black experience is told so perfectly as the many layers and years are slowly revealed.  All of the characters have their own story and their own contribution to the overall narrative.  A narrative that I loved.  Some was told in stream of consciousness that only enhanced the otherworldly quality of the book, a much-needed offset to the ugly subjects of slavery, bestiality, rape, torture and worse.

Sethe was my least favorite character and while that would normally doom a book for me in this case it didn’t.  The story revolved around Sethe, but it was the story of everyone around her too.  Baby Suggs, Denver, Paul D and others all contributed their experiences to the captivating tapestry.

I loved the prose and found it so rich and vivid that I only wanted to take my time reading it.  This is not one to rush through.  The story got off to a bit of a slow start, but the writing was so poetic that I didn’t care.  For me, it was a beautifully told story of heartbreak and triumph and I am so glad that I read it.  My words cannot do this book justice, so I’ll have to rely on Morrison herself.

Paul D had only begun, what he was telling her was only the beginning when her fingers on his knee, soft and reassuring, stopped him.  Just as well.  Just as well.  Saying more might push them both to a place they couldn’t get back from.  He would keep the rest where it belonged: in that tobacco tin buried in his chest where a red heart used to be.  Its lid rusted shut.  He would not pry it loose now in front of this sweet sturdy woman, for if she got a whiff of the contents it would shame him.  (p. 86)

Whitepeople believed that whatever the manners, under every dark skin was a jungle.  Swift unnavigable waters, swinging screaming baboons, sleeping snakes, red gums ready for their sweet white blood.  In a way, he thought, they were right.  The more coloredpeople spent their strength trying to convince them how gentle they were, how clever and loving, how human, the more they used themselves up to persuade white of something Negroes believed could not be questioned, the deeper and more tangled the jungle grew inside.  (p.234)

“A man ain’t nothing but a man,” said Baby Suggs.  “But a son?  Well now, that’s somebody.”  (p.27)  In honor of my Gage 🙂

July 19, 2012 - Posted by | 5 Star Books |


  1. I’ve enjoyed all of the Morrison books I’ve read including this one. Have you read, The Bluest Eye? (My favorite). He new one Home is good as well.

    Comment by Diane@BibliophilebytheSea | July 19, 2012 | Reply

    • This is my first one but it won’t be my last! The Bluest Eye will be on my reading list soon.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | July 19, 2012 | Reply

  2. I always knew I wanted to read this book but after reading your review, that want is even stronger. And as one Ohioan to another, I can’t afford to miss this one! Great review!

    Comment by Lisa (Southern Girl Reads) | July 19, 2012 | Reply

    • It’s a must for any Ohio gal 🙂

      Comment by stacybuckeye | July 19, 2012 | Reply

  3. I was thinking I’d read something by Morrison so went and looked at the books she’s written and don’t think I have. That’s something I need to rectify!

    Comment by BermudaOnion | July 19, 2012 | Reply

    • Oh yes, you must. I loved this one, but have so many wonderful things about all of her books.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | July 19, 2012 | Reply

  4. I really liked this book too, and can’t believe I waited so long to read it!

    Comment by Beth Hoffman | July 19, 2012 | Reply

    • Us Ohio gals must support each other 🙂

      Comment by stacybuckeye | July 19, 2012 | Reply

  5. I haven’t read this yet … I’m sorry to say. I really must make time for it.

    Comment by Jenners | July 19, 2012 | Reply

  6. I started Beloved years ago and never got very far… it’s definitely time to give it another try. I read The Bluest Eye last year and loved it!

    Comment by lakesidemusing | July 20, 2012 | Reply

    • I still need to read that one. This one wasn’t easy but by halfway through I was hooked.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | July 28, 2012 | Reply

  7. I read this one quite some time ago and now I feel like I should revisit this book! Wonderful review on this one, Stacy!!!

    Comment by Staci@LifeintheThumb | July 20, 2012 | Reply

  8. You are so right, Stacy!The writing is so beautiful. Morrison gets the experience of ex-slaves across perfectly.

    Comment by Vasilly | July 20, 2012 | Reply

  9. Hooray for another awesome author from Ohio! 🙂 I read this book in high school and it was way too in depth for me. It just went right over my head. Haven’t picked up any Morrison since but think I need to re-consider this. I think I’ll have a much better appreciation for her writing style now that I’m a bit older/more mature.

    Comment by Book Nympho | July 20, 2012 | Reply

    • I can’t imagine trying to read this in high school. It would have gone straight over my head too. With age comes appreciation, I think.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | July 31, 2012 | Reply

  10. Oh reading this one affected me very much and there were scenes that were difficult to read. And I love that last quote – I agree wholeheartedly!

    Comment by Stephanie D. | July 21, 2012 | Reply

  11. I didn’t know this took place in Cincinnati! Hmmmm

    Comment by Thoughts of Joy | July 22, 2012 | Reply

    • I didn’t either til I wanted to read Morrison for my Ohio tour and this was the one I had on my shelf. I lucked out with the Cincinnati setting 🙂

      Comment by stacybuckeye | July 31, 2012 | Reply

  12. I read this one in college and had similar thoughts, that the story was a bit slow at first but the writing was excellent.

    Comment by Anna (Diary of an Eccentric) | July 22, 2012 | Reply

  13. I skimmed your review because I have this in my pile to read. I saw that you loved and enjoyed many aspects of it, so thinking I will too. Thanks Stacy.

    Comment by jennygirl | July 24, 2012 | Reply

  14. The book concerns the story of Sethe and her daughter Denver after having escaped from slavery. Their home, 124 Bluestone Road, Cincinnati, is haunted by a revenant , who turns out to be the ghost of Sethe’s daughter. Because of the haunting—- which often involves objects being thrown around the room—- Sethe’s youngest daughter, Denver, is shy, friendless, and housebound, and her sons, Howard and Buglar, have run away from home by the time they are thirteen years old. Soon afterward, Baby Suggs, the mother of Sethe’s husband Halle, dies in her bed.

    Comment by gold price | July 28, 2012 | Reply

  15. I’m ashamed to say that I have never yet read any Morrison and she is considered an American great. Thanks for a great review. You make me want to read this one.

    Comment by boardinginmyforties | August 14, 2012 | Reply

  16. […] Beloved – Toni Morrison (1987) – Stacy’s Review […]

    Pingback by What We Did Last Summer – The Classic Bribe Wrap-Up | | September 7, 2012 | Reply

  17. […] Beloved by Toni Morrison. Part of my Ohio tour and I am looking forward to reading more from this universally beloved author. […]

    Pingback by Sundays with Gage & My favorite books and movies of 2012 « Stacy's Books | December 30, 2012 | Reply

  18. […] Beloved by Toni Morrison […]

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  19. Fabulous review. I agree with everything you say.

    Comment by Care | February 5, 2013 | Reply

  20. […] 2. Beloved by Toni Morrison. One of my favorite reads from last year. […]

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  21. […] Beloved by Toni Morrison […]

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  22. […] to this book.  As I’ve spent some time reading other reviews and then looking at my original review for Beloved I’m taking a guess that it was listening to it rather than reading it that lessened by […]

    Pingback by The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison « Stacy's Books | March 25, 2016 | Reply

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