It’s thick and dense and sometimes unpleasant to wade through, but every sentence has the promise of a poem. The language is so rich and vibrant, and so full of emotion and hurt and mystery, that you need to take your time while you read this one, lest the words pass you by.
It is appropriate to read this during October, because there is a supernatural element to the story, in the form of the titular character, Beloved. The protagonist, Sethe, is haunted by the death of her young daughter, who was killed by Sethe’s own hand in order to save her from a life of torture similar to the life she lived in this post-Civil War world. Only the word “Beloved” was etched on the child’s grave. The house where Sethe lives with her daughter Denver, is possessed by a malevolent spirit that seems to suck the very life out of the inhabitants – until one day Paul D, a man from Sethe’s past, banishes the spirit. Days later, a young woman shows up, named Beloved, and seems to have an unhealthy obsession for Sethe. Does her presence help or heal Sethe?
The book winds through past and present, describing the torture and inhumane conditions of slavery experienced by Sethe, Paul D, and other characters in the book. It tells of their escape to freedom and the dangers experienced along the way. But the story transitions past to present to past without warning and at times it is difficult to know what time period we are in.
This is an amazing book, written artfully and passionately by Toni Morrison. It’s one I think any student of literature should put on their lifetime bucket list of must-reads.
As a side note, this completes my “Back to the Classics” challenge for the year (with the exception of the alternates.)