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Paradise School & Library Binding – 1 Mar 2001

4.2 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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School & Library Binding, 1 Mar 2001
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Product details

  • School & Library Binding: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval (Mar. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0613174283
  • ISBN-13: 978-0613174282
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

Product Description

Amazon Review

"They shoot the white girl first. With the rest they can take their time. No need to hurry out here. They are 17 miles from a town which has 90 miles between it and any other. Hiding places will be plentiful in the Convent, but there is time and the day has just begun." So begins Paradise, Toni Morrison's first novel since winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1993. As one would expect from the author of such brilliantly imagined novels as Song of Solomon, Beloved and Jazz, Morrison's Paradise is ambitious, political, deeply spiritual and peopled with characters as complex as they are unforgettable. Time is fluid in the universe of this particular novel; though set in 1976, Morrison travels easily between eras, taking the reader back in time to the founding of Ruby, an all-black township in Oklahoma, at the end of World War II, then further back to the establishment of its predecessor, Haven, which parallels the story of Exodus: a band of former slaves wanders the Oklahoma territory in search of a homeland. Overlying the strong sense of character and place that imbues each page is a touch of the supernatural--ghost children skitter through the halls of an abandoned Catholic girl's school and "unseen friends" visit lonely women by night.

Even as Morrison deftly limns the history of the town and its inhabitants, she lays the foundation for the conflict brewing in the present-day story: A new minister has come to town, bringing with him a whiff of the politics that engulfed that era--civil rights, student uprisings, rioting in the streets--activities which speak to the restlessness of the town's youth. Meanwhile, 17 miles away at the former girls' school nicknamed "the Convent," a small group of unconventional women have moved in. Their stories, told in individual chapters bearing their names, are also stories of exile, exodus and eventual homecoming. For the men of Ruby, however, these women represent everything that is dangerous about the outside world and as the sanctity of Ruby's traditions begin to crumble, nine men go on a deadly hunt.

As always, Morrison is not afraid to explore the relations between the races or the genders and she is particularly adept at creating characters who, though frequently not likable, are always sympathetic. Paradise is a book you'll want to read more than once and each time you'll find something new to haunt and amaze you. -- Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Toni Morrison makes me believe in God. She makes me believe in a divine being, because luck and genetics don't seem to come close to explaining her"

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 15 Jan. 2002
Format: 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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Format: 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.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: 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?
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Format: Kindle Edition
Paradise starts with a violent end to its story. Women living in a convent are being shot by men and, as readers, we have no idea who anyone is or why this atrocity is happening. Jumping back in time, author Toni Morrison dedicates each chapter to the story of a woman and we slowly begin to understand the masculine pride, social fragmentation and perversion of religious belief that will lead to tragedy. Morrison imagined a nucleus of nine black families who, more than a hundred years ago, set out across America to find a home for themselves. Initially they thought they might join an existing black town, but insulted by refusals, they walked on until mystical visions indicated where they should found their own towns, Haven and, later, Ruby. Isolated from outside influence, the town and community prospered, retelling their history until the journeys became mythical and the founding fathers legendary.

Paradise is often a book of the differences and belief clashes between men and women. The families live in a highly patriarchal society which views the independent convent women, outsiders, as threats. I frequently found it difficult to work out and remember who was related to whom. Nicknames are used as well as given names so it often felt like reading a Russian novel and I wished for family tree diagrams. However, it later occurred to me that, as an outsider to Ruby, I probably wasn't intended to clearly understand their connections and this was another illustration of the differences between the townsfolk and the convent women - the women had no history in this place. Paradise is a great sweep of a novel which allowed me to easily imagine these lives and to become involved in the arguments and discussions.
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