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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting and satisfying
I could hardly stop reading this book. Toni Morrison really is an amazing writer - it almost felt as if someone was singing this book to me as I read it. I was interested to read the comments in the other reviews about the ending. I am a bit of a 'hard to please' reader. I like to know what happens to my characters, but I really don't like it when authors string...
Published on 15 Jan. 2002

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, intricate but deeply flawed.
The book opens early one morning in 1976, with nine men from the town of Ruby (with a population of 360) assaulting a former Convent which lies some 19 miles outside the town. The men justify this assault on the convent and its female inhabitants as a way of protecting Ruby, “the one all black town worth the pain.” The 1960s and 1970s has been a confusing...
Published 6 months ago by Christopher Sullivan


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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting and satisfying, 15 Jan. 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Paradise (Paperback)
I could hardly stop reading this book. Toni Morrison really is an amazing writer - it almost felt as if someone was singing this book to me as I read it. I was interested to read the comments in the other reviews about the ending. I am a bit of a 'hard to please' reader. I like to know what happens to my characters, but I really don't like it when authors string together improbable plot twists to make it all 'make sense', or scrunch years into the final chapter to give a sense of what happened next. I think Morrison, however, gets the mixture just right in the ending of Paradise. It closes on a mystery, but gives you distinct clues about what happens to the crucial characters. How you interpret the clues is entirely up to you and the beliefs you hold. Fantastic - she includes us in the process of creation at a crucial moment. We make this book ourselves, as the men and women of Ruby made their worlds.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not So Raw or Uncomfortable as Her Other Reads, 29 April 2014
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This review is from: Paradise (Paperback)
Such a compelling read that kept me immersed in its pages and world that it was hard to come up for breath. A tough book to review as I just feel like gushing over it enthusiastically! I haven't read a book by Morrison that I didn't like but I did find this one quite different. It wasn't so raw nor did it deal with such uncomfortable subjects as the other books I've read by her so far that it did make a unexpected, but pleasant, change for me. Each chapter tells the story from a different woman's point of view (though always from the third person) and this is one of my personal favourite devices in storytelling. It is a story of race, as it tells the story of a black town founded on the principles that many original black towns, after slavery, were themselves colour conscience and this specific group of ex-slaves and free men (and their family's) were very dark black, searching to settle down but refused entry to a light-skinned black town. So they found Ruby, a place that disregards "white" ways but has a special grudge against the "light-skinned" of their own race. They find their nemesis in a convent house located outside of their town which is inhabited by a rag-tag of abandoned, forlorn but independent women of varying races which the reader is never made aware of except that one is white. The book starts off with a group of the townsmen descending upon the convent women and shooting the "white one" first. Then we go back in time and the whole story of both the town's founding and present state along with how the various women came and ended up staying at the old convent came to such an ominous state suvh as where we first find them. A totally gripping read of strong female characters who escape their dysfunctional lives and become independent and bond with each other while only miles away a secluded patriarchal society grows deeper and deeper into believing its own righteousness and thinking itself above the "whitemen's" law. A stunning read. Not my favourite of Morrison's but very close and appealing to see her write something a little different from her usual themes.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, intricate but deeply flawed., 9 Sept. 2014
By 
Christopher Sullivan (edinburgh) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Paradise (Kindle Edition)
The book opens early one morning in 1976, with nine men from the town of Ruby (with a population of 360) assaulting a former Convent which lies some 19 miles outside the town. The men justify this assault on the convent and its female inhabitants as a way of protecting Ruby, “the one all black town worth the pain.” The 1960s and 1970s has been a confusing time, racially, politically and generationally for the town. With rumours of witchcraft and abortions happening at the convent the townspeople find a scapegoat for all that ails them in the shape of the nonconformists and fugitives who inhabit the convent.
The story then weaves its way back and forth through time relating the story of the people and origins of the town and how the women of the former convent found their way there. Through these elements and the third person prism of points of view from many different characters, the reader is lead toward the conclusion of the events on that morning of 1976 nineteen miles outside the town of Ruby.

“They shoot the white girl first”

This is a powerful and stunning opening line that has the reader asking a plethora of questions before they move onto the second line: Why is the woman shot? Was she killed or injured? Why is her ethnicity mentioned? The last question is substantially more pertinent as the novel never reveals the ethnicity of the women at the convent and because of that we the reader have no idea which of the women was shot: Connie, a former ward of the nuns, who ran the convent when it was a boarding school for Indian girls; Mavis, a woman who left her two babies to suffocate in her car on a hot day and fled believing her husband and remaining children wanted to kill her; Gigi, who participates in anti-War demonstrations and whose boyfriend is in jail; Seneca, a hitchhiker, turns up at the convent after temporarily providing sexual fun for a rich woman; Pallas, a runaway whose boyfriend leaves her for her mother and is brought to the convent after having escaped from rapists.
Ruby’s nomadic group of descendants migrated from Mississippi and Louisiana in the 1870s and attempted to integrate into other societies but found themselves turned away. They eventually established the town of haven. After the apparent disintegration of the town of Haven’s moral fibre during the years of World War II the elders moved on to establish a new town, Ruby. This search for the ‘promised land’ is one of the novel’s themes writ large, religion.
The town’s founding fathers, Deek and Steward Morgan have set down unwritten ‘commandments’ that they believe should be adhered to at all costs. A set of rules that are not only unrealistically Utopian but ignore the intricacies and convolutions of human nature.
The other large themes that permeate the novel is race and racism. Not just racism in its obvious ugly form between white and black but also the racism that exists in the novel between dark skinned African Americans and lighter skinned African Americans.
Over and above these large themes, Toni Morrison looks at the subjects that though always with us in one form or another were greatly magnified in the post war years and in particular the 1960s and 1970s; the rise of feminism; a cultural and societal widening of the generation gap; race riots that beset America and Christianity faced challenges from the likes of Eastern religions and Marxism.
Though the novel is interesting, intelligent and wonderfully illustrates the devastating legacy of slavery in all its forms, racial, sexual and gender, its message is lost in what is a convoluted, affected, vague and over populated novel.
Not only are there over sixty, (yes 60+) characters in the novel but so many of them are written in such a similar manner that it is at times difficult to distinguish one from the other. However, this maybe intentional on the author’s part to show us, the reader, that we are not all that different from each other.
The novel’s events that occur to allow the plot to harness its themes feels too random and unpersuasive. From the lost white people who appear in Ruby, to the women who happen upon what is supposedly a remote house. The character of Gigi/Grace particularly grates as she has arrived in the area looking for a rock formation in the desert which looks like a couple having sex and then searches for a lovers' tree in Ruby after her original search proves fruitless before stumbling upon the convent.
This is not a book for the casual reader and maybe not even for the seasoned reader either who is looking to read, cogitate, enjoy and move onto the next book. For most readers it would need several readings to help fathom this intricate and deeply flawed meretricious novel.

First Line - “They shoot the white girl first”

Memorable Line – “God don’t make mistakes, Lone had shouted at her. Perhaps not, but He was sometimes over generous. Like giving satanic gifts to a drunken, ignorant, penniless woman living in darkness unable to rise from a cot to do something useful or die on it and rid the world of her stench.”

Number of Pages – 318
Sex Scenes – Yes
Profanity – Mild
Genre – Fiction/Magic realism.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great read, highly recommended, 27 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: Paradise (Paperback)
As a first-time Toni Morrison reader, I was prepared to be confused in my attempts to follow her storyline. And to be honest, initially I was. However, all became clear as I began to read Chapter Two.
The plot was engaging and the characters interesting.
I am still (again being honest, though I am a little embarrassed about it) confused about what happens to the women in the end! Or perhaps that is the point?
This would be a great novel to read with a book club so that everyone could share their ideas about this.
A great read, highly recommended.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paradise - Toni Morrison, 12 Nov. 2008
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Paradise (Paperback)
I haven't read Morrison before, and I'm slightly wary that I've started here, with what is almost surely (such is the exemplary quality of the prose, the themes, the style, the control, the compassion, the tension, the intellect) one of her best books. If there are better among her works, then she more than deserves that Nobel prize.

Paradise is, of course, a story of race. From it's explosive opening line ("They shoot the white girl first.") this is clear, even if one were not more generally aware of Morrison and her work. What unfolds is a story of two communities: the racically black town of Ruby, about to be riven by a conflict between it's youngers and elders, and a neighbouring community of women living in "the convent", named for the building's previous use. Through eight chapters, each bearing a woman's name, the story of the town and the convent, and how the separate women each come to live in it, and the tensions between the two, emerge, flinging the reader firmly to the immense detonation in the novel's final pages.

Paradise is certainly one of the most powerful novels I've read. Primarily it is about tensions, conflicts: between gender, race, age, communities, time, even nature and humankind. It is compassionate, sometimes sharpy brutal, infused with history and poetry, and one of the most completely moving books I've come across. All reactions to books should be to some extent visceral rather than mental, purely instinctive rather than rational, and this appealed to me in those terms: like all my favourite novels, I can't explain why it draws me other to say: it struck me as a force, entire of itself.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A confused but pleased fan, 15 Nov. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Paradise (Paperback)
I am a very big fan of Morrison's work, this being the third novel of hers I have read, the others being 'Beloved' and 'Song of Solomon'. This may surprise many as I am both white and male - the two types of people Ms. Morrison seems to have a bit of a grudge against.
Anyway, I approached 'Paradise' with some trepidation; a friend of mine had already read it, and disliked it quite strongly. I was pleasantly surprised for the first 300 pages. It was confusing, but this is meant in a positive manner as it challenged the reader even more than 'Beloved' did.
My positive impression faded in the last 20 pages though. In this section it confused me too much and the challenge was impossible to even attempt, let alone succeed at. Can someone please explain what exactly happened to the women in the convent!? Please!
It is well-written, well-paced - but I believe Toni Morrison has strived too hard to throw the reader on this occasion.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy read, 8 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: Paradise (Kindle Edition)
Amazingly constructed book - raises many issues about black conservatism / American reactionary views / black peoples views on women and the fact that some blacks are more equal than other blacks - need to read again to get a better handle of the themes
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2.0 out of 5 stars Strange paradise...., 7 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: Paradise (Kindle Edition)
I like the style as always, the astute observations of the people: but this story is strange, I couldn't hang on to the thread of the story, nor keep track of the characters, not a read for relaxation to be sure.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Morrison's best work so far, 21 Aug. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Paradise (Paperback)
In 'Paradise' Morrison's writing is even more beautiful and provoking than in her previous novels. Probably not the best for a first time reader, but absolutely incredible.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great service and product, 18 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Paradise (Kindle Edition)
Great service and product!
I'm quite satisfied - the product got to me on time and it met my expectations. I will shop with the seller again.
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Paradise
Paradise by Toni Morrison (School & Library Binding - Mar. 2001)
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