Beloved by Toni Morrison (Lisa Hill, ANZ LitLovers)

Beloved is a wonderful book even though it is deeply disturbing to read.   It was published in 1987, it won the Pulitzer Prize and Toni Morrison won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.  Why it has taken me more than 20 years to get round to reading it, and how I came to miss the movie, I can’t explain….
It’s the story of Sethe, in post Civil War Ohio, coming to terms with a freedom which has not really set her free.  The narrative leaks unwelcome intrusions from her past into the present and it presents multiple voices, but Sethe is the central character.  A former slave, she has lost so much and she is such a damaged person that I found it hard to reconcile this depiction of a former slave with Lawrence Hill’s Someone Knows My NameI had reservations about the resilience of the character Aminata at the time of reading Hill’s book, and Beloved reinforces my view that the impact of slavery on the pysche is, in Someone Knows My Name, somewhat sanitised.   
Sethe’s house, No 124, is haunted by her dead toddler, and everyone avoids the place.  Her grandmother, Baby Suggs, has not long died and Sethe lives there alone with her surviving daughter, Denver, until Paul D turns up.  He is a former slave also from the ironically named plantation Sweet Home, and his arrival triggers the presence of Beloved, who seems to be an adult reincarnation of the dead child.

I read and blogged this book on June 27th 2009.  To read the rest of my review please visit

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