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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 30 June 2016
After the huge success of Twelve Years a Slave it is interesting to read another account of life as a slave in the Southern States Of America, both before and after the Civil War. This novel has a quirky twist, in that the character Beloved is a ghost, and the social history of attitudes and mores of both male and female slaves, some of whom buy their freedom, is extremely well researched and portrayed. At times this is a harrowing book to read but it is beautifully crafted, switiching between the consciousnesses of the characters, men and women, children and teenagers. Much of it is written in first person narrative and is totally convincing. You definitely feel you have read one of the classics.
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on 14 November 2000
Disturbing, haunting, frightening, as the narrator peels away the layers of hurt and pain. Not for the hard hearted, or feint hearted. Brilliant.
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on 2 April 2001
This is one of those books you read once, take a three month break and read again to catch what you missed the first time around. Sethe is a wonderfully rounded character, but what makes her special is her flawed logic. You see exactly what she is getting at - why she reacted the way she did - and you still can't condone it.
Very controversial.
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on 17 July 2009
As the title suggests; read in a quiet room.

Many reviewers have mentioned the quality of writing of this outstanding novel but it is best to read it away from distractions and noise as you may get lost.

A book worthy of its place on my shelf and one which will be re-read several times in the future.
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on 2 February 2001
Toni Morrison writes with dignity and compassion. Having seen her interviewed I judge her to be a person rich in humility and grace. To criticise her work therefor seems over censorious, but I found "Beloved" wanting in some regards. The story of the main protagonist, Seth, and the horrors she and her friends endured as US slaves during the 19th century is told mostly in flashback. This device enables Ms Morrison to peel back the mystery of the past layer by layer rather than showing us the full horror of it all at once. The narrative is all the more effective for this. My quibble is with the supernatural elements. Ms Morrison presents these in such a way that the reader is asked to believe in them. In my view this asks too much of the relationship between writer and reader. This is a pity because she could just have easily had the characters believing this as part of the prevailing culture without demanding it of the reader. This supernatural element does appear to be a point of contention, because people who dislike the book usually seem to dislike it for this reason. I have yet to read "Song of Solomon", but believe the supernatural elements in that book are better controlled
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Beloved is a great novel whose writer has won both the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature. It has been studied by students at university level and is a crucial work of literature articulating the thoughts and aspirations of black Americans. I feel a bit ashamed therefore to be giving it a measly 3 stars.

This is the story of Sethe a freed female slave set in the United States maybe 10 years after slavery was abolished. She lives in 124, a (presumably) ramshackle house that had been used as a kind of transit post for freed or escaped slaves. The house is in Ohio, which was traditionally the place where escaped slaves could first find freedom before Slavery was abolished.

The experience of slavery is something that I could never truly imagine. The idea that a human being could be the property of another, who would simply regard this 'property' as a kind of livestock to be bought and sold, bred to make further livestock and beaten if it wasn't sufficiently subservient is something I find quite unthinkable. We are not talking about literate well educated people but ones who have had to make their way without many of the tools we take fro granted. Life in the free state is no picnic either, with black citizens having to wait their turn for food at the back of the store while the whites get served first.

The story is a confusing mixture of various pasts and the present with both mingling in such a way that we become easily lost. I wonder whether such a technique is necessary because it somehow blunts the sheer awfulness of the lives. I did often find myself wondering which character was speaking and what he or she was talking about. Much of the conversation is banal but again, I think there is a point to it.

Years ago, I read a similarly impenetrable book The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. Discussion in a book group, a bit of internet research and a second read through made the book clearer and far more rewarding. I think I will have to read it again but it may be some time.

I realise I haven't written much about the plot of this work for which I apologise. I expect that if I tried, I would make numerous errors, simply because I could not fully grasp what was going on.

Good luck if you want to have a go. I think there is the seed of a great novel here; I just don't think I found it.
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on 23 August 2016
As with my other review of Toni Morrison, I just wasn't grabbed by this. I wanted to love it but ended up abandoning it half way through. I appreciate the struggles set out in the book and I wanted to feel the emotions of the characters. But the supernatural and my lack of shared history made this a difficult read. I would read it to the end if I had to (it is well written, complete with characterised language) but I have other books I would prefer to read first.
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on 24 May 2016
Complex, dense, confusing and terrifying, but with a narrative that pulled me through and kept me turning the pages to find out what happens next - and even with a happy ending. This is an amazing novel. I've been scared to read it for so long, and although it is gruelling I am so glad to have tackled it now
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on 7 June 2009
A previous reader review shared the opinion that 'reading should not be such hard work'. I disagree. Sometimes a truly great book shouldn't be something that is easy to read as the back of a cornflake packet. It should challenge you, make you read closely, pay the book the attention it deserves. 'Beloved' is a wonderful book. Beautifully written, so very moving. It's difficult to use the word 'enjoyable' about it, concerning as it does the subject of slavery, but it's enjoyable because of its quality. The novel makes me want to know more about how the real former slaves dealt with 'freedom'. Their grandparents/great grandparents wrenched from their African homelands, forbidden from speaking their own language, bought and sold, their children taken from them. Toni Morrison's done an amazing thing in writing this book, giving voice to the voiceless.
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on 6 May 2006
Beloved is an extremely poetic novel, Morrisons prose flows and adds depth to the context and characters seen in the novel. However, the complexity of the style and the vague transition from past to present was at times confusing, but you must perservier because its a really good read! I found Morrison portrayed each characters emotions in a very susinct, gripping way, i felt so much sympathy for Denver, the daughter of Sethe (the main character). Morrison has the ability to show the raw vulnerability of motherhood, the jealousy and simple demands of children, and the need to be loved. Morrisons blend of supernatural, and realism are seamless, and set against the post slave period in America, Beloved is a complicated novel, its compelling, and mixes raw emotion, sharp characters, and supernation concepts to create an absolute winner. for anyone who likes to read, this novel will satisfy any reader, and like all good books, will leave interpretation to you, the reader. classed as a feminist text, Beloved is far to much to fit into any literary label. an epic of genre, and a cut above anything else you will read. It didnt win the nobel prize for literature for nothing! Morrisons book is amazing, a great read. i would highly recommend!!!
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