To celebrate 2018 being the centenary of women’s right to vote, we are reviewing one book a month by an inspiring female author.
This month’s book is ‘Beloved’ by Toni Morrison, who was the first African-American woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.
‘Beloved’ is set in America just after slavery was abolished. It is inspired by the supposedly true story of a woman who killed her child rather than have her taken back into slavery. Sethe, a former slave, and her daughter Denver encounter a mysterious woman called Beloved. She comes to live with them and as they discover more about her they believe she is the ghost of the child Sethe murdered. ‘Beloved’ is about being haunted, struggling with identity and attempting to escape the past.
I think it is one of the most powerful books I’ve read. The way Toni Morrison contrasts the beauty of her language and the brutality she describes is very striking. This book stays with you long after you finish it.
The story is told through the flashbacks of several characters, which can make the plot difficult to follow at times but I think it is worth it for Morrison’s unique writing style.
If you have read ‘Beloved’ I’d recommend the other two books that were intended to be read as part of the same trilogy. The second book is ‘Jazz’ which is set in Harlem during the jazz age and has one of the most intense opening scenes. The third book is ‘Paradise’ which is about a brutal attack in a convent in 1970s America. None of the books feature the same characters, but they all deal with the same recurring themes.
See you in June for the next review.
Philippa, Brompton Library