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Beloved (Toni Morrison Trilogy #1)

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  224,864 Ratings  ·  6,884 Reviews
In the troubled years following the Civil War, the spirit of a murdered child haunts the Ohio home of a former slave. This angry, destructive ghost breaks mirrors, leaves its fingerprints in cake icing, and generally makes life difficult for Sethe and her family; nevertheless, the woman finds the haunting oddly comforting for the spirit is that of her own dead baby, never ...more
Paperback, 275 pages
Published 2005 by Vintage (first published 1987)
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Nicola I've just finished it and it's not a straight forward, relatively easy read like P&P and Frankenstein are. There is a lot of moving around in…moreI've just finished it and it's not a straight forward, relatively easy read like P&P and Frankenstein are. There is a lot of moving around in time, things which are hinted at over and over and sometimes are never fully explained, leaving the reader to guess at what happened. At other times the characters can seem to speak in riddles (especially Beloved).

I would think you'd have to have quite a good grasp of both English and Literary skills to really follow what is going on a lot of the time.

P.S. Older books (like the two you mentioned) are often much easier to follow for readers who don't speak English as a first language (unless you are reading a translation of course!). They are all (at least all of the ones I've read have been) plain, straight forward books. They don't jump around a lot in time, they don't have unusual or 'innovative' sentence/book structure and there is no magical realism or similar. Occasionally they have words which you don't really hear in modern speech anymore but the words would all be able to be looked up in a dictionary to work out their meaning so that shouldn't be a problem.(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Tiombe Jones I think the author also evidences some discomfort with occupying the space in Sethe's mind when she commits this act. The description of this scene is…moreI think the author also evidences some discomfort with occupying the space in Sethe's mind when she commits this act. The description of this scene is not typical throughout the book. It is graphic and TM really attempts to inhabit it, but it lacks the unquestioned understanding evident in other scenes. When she speaks of atrocities done to Sethe, she can speak as Sethe. But when she speaks of atrocities done by Sethe, she just is not able to inhabit that space but instead places the storytelling with the actor who she does see as violent. In other words, Sethe is only violent as a reflection of the violence of slavery and whiteness; she cannot tell Sethe's violence independent of that narrative because she doesn't imagine it independent of that narrative.(less)
The Color Purple by Alice WalkerBeloved by Toni MorrisonRuby by Cynthia BondHalf of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieThe Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Writing by women of colour: what to read in 2016
2nd out of 190 books — 15 voters
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezLife of Pi by Yann MartelThe House of the Spirits by Isabel AllendeMagic America by C.E. MedfordMidnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
Magical Realism
74th out of 183 books — 409 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 26, 2009 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: makes a nice mother's day present
Recommended to Jessica by: "recommended" is putting it mildly
Beloved is the Great American Horror Novel. Sorry Stephen King: evil clowns and alcoholic would-be writers are pretty creepy, but they just got nothing on the terrifying specter of American slavery! I literally got chills -- physical chills -- over and over while reading this book. To me, great horror has the scary element (e.g., a ghost) and then, lurking behind it, something so vast and evil that trying to think about it can make you go insane. Beloved did that! It worked as horror! And then a ...more

You are my sister

You are my daughter

You are my face; you are me

I have found you again; you have come back to me

You are my beloved

You are mine

You are mine"

It's 6 o'clock in the morning and I have finished with one of the best books I have ever read in the course of my short life.
I am sleepless and I need a moment to organize my thoughts, sort out my feelings. Come back to real life. But I can't.

A part of me is still with Sethe and her daughters, Denver and Beloved at 124. A part of me
Mark Stone
Jul 31, 2007 Mark Stone rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody.
I don't give books low marks lightly. If anything, I am prone to being carried away by the author's enthusaism and rate books more highly than they deserve. I am an aspiring author, myself, and that also leads me to be kind to the books.

That being said, I really hated this book.

I like fantasy and magical realism. I find the dreams and allegories that live just underneath the skin of the world we can more readily see and touch endlessly fascinating. I like my stories intense and emotional, and I
May 31, 2016 Rowena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Working dough. Working, working dough. Nothing better than that to start the day's serious work of beating back the past."- Toni Morrison, Beloved

"Beloved" focuses on the psychological trauma of slavery which permeates the very atmosphere and even emerges in ghost form. It seems to be a good book to read in the light of the recent discussion on the Roots reboot, as well as the recent New York Times article which discusses how African-American DNA bears signs of slavery. I feel that for many thi
Glenn Sumi
Over the past 15 years, I’ve tried a couple of times to read Toni Morrison’s epic, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about murder, guilt, ghosts and the brutal, complex physical and psychological legacy of slavery.

Something about the dense, poetic prose and the elliptical nature of the storytelling made it impenetrable. After a chapter or two, I’d give up, perplexed. And I’ve read William Faulkner and Virginia Woolf! This made Oprah’s Book Club?

I’m so glad I persevered.

About a third of the way in, I
Aug 25, 2008 Harpal rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
Shelves: school
This is probably my least favorite book I have ever read. I think I hate it even more because so many people like it so much. Unlike really trashy novels, people actually try to argue that this is a great book. But it definitely embodies all the things that make me hate books. It's heavy handed with its message, which ultimately ruins some pretty spectacular imagery. Its also just a giant pastiche of people who can actually write, which makes it just feel disjointed and annoying since it switche ...more
Aug 06, 2013 Dolors rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Broken hearts in search of mending
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classics," then write reports on whether or not they deserve the label

Book #23: Beloved, by Toni Morrison (1987)

The story in a nutshell:
To understand the importance of 1987's Beloved, you need to understand that before this first
In the beginning there were no words. In the beginning was the sound, and they all knew what that sound sounded like.
I could leave it like that.

I should, really, I should. Leave it, in her words, in her meaning, in her context and effort and heritage and everything that is not mine. Never will be mine, these things that should rightfully flay me alive every time I happen to dwell upon them, whether in flight of fanciful musings or serious consideration as they so rightfully deserve. The only t
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

Chicago commercial photographers


Chicago commercial photographers

I realize this is a classic and a Pulitzer Prize winner and yada yada yada, but oh my goodness am I glad to be done.

Dear Oprah, what’s going to happen to me since I hated it????

Chicago commercial photographers

That’s what I was afraid of.

Going in to this book I knew nothing about it except for the fact that it was on the Banned Books List and that Oprah said I should read it . . .

Chicago commercial photographers

I did manage to finish, but WHAT. A. SLOG. There are only about 47
Aug 06, 2014 Garima rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Garima by: Samadrita & Dolors
the sadness was at her center, the desolated center where the self that was no self made its home. Sad as it was that she did not know where her children were buried or what they looked like if alive, fact was she knew more about them than she knew about herself, having never had the map to discover what she was like.
I’m accustomed to hear different stories. I’m accustomed to live around different lives. I’m more used to beauty than ugliness. I’m more used to songs than silence. I’m more used
Nov 07, 2009 Valerie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hate this book. But I guess I should say why. Some might say that I was too young to read this book since I read it when I was 15 but I'm a few years older now and I still hate it with seething anger. I heard that Toni Morrison was a good writer so when we had to pick a book from this long list I decided to read it. BIG MISTAKE!

I didn't like any of the character -at all-or the plot. I know the book is supposed to give you a view on the cruel treatment of slaves but after I finished I actually
Aug 26, 2008 Trillian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: over-educated literati
Shelves: not-worthwhile
This is the worst book that I have ever read. It epitomizes what elite academics love about literature: It is dark and nasty (which, to an academic, means realistic) and it is obscure and incoherent (to an academic, this means deep and profound). This is like the deliberately hideous painting that is called "art" by intellectuals: Common-sense individuals question its merit and are told it is complex, beautiful, and beyond the untrained understanding and crass sensibilities of the uneducated. I ...more
Aug 25, 2013 Rowena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rowena by: Samadrita
Shelves: african-american
“Darkness is stronger and swallows them like minnows.” - Toni Morrison, Beloved

“Beloved” is a beautiful, haunting story that is set around the time following the slavery emancipation declaration. It’s mysterious and supernatural, as well as being a love story, a tale of horror, forgiveness, loss and confusion. It’s very poetic and lyrical, full of metaphors and powerful imagery.

The book tells the story of Sethe, a runaway slave who has left her home in the South but is still living in the past
Will Byrnes
There are reasons why Toni Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Beloved may be the biggest one. The structure is a ghost story about a woman who killed her own children rather than see them be dragged back from freedom to live a life of slavery, and how the guilt of that act comes back to haunt her. But the real payload here is a portrayal of the slave existence, how it seeps into every pore, affects every emotion, defines one’s world view, how one values education, how willing o ...more
Sep 16, 2012 Lawyer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Lawyer by: Jake Reiss, Owner, The Alabama Booksmith
Beloved: Toni Morrison's Novel of the Cost of Freedom


First Edition, Beloved, Alfred Knopf, New York, New York, September, 1987, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 1988

The task of the Underground Railway has been made more difficult. It is 1850. As a part of the Compromise of 1850, our Nation, in yet another effort to stall a War Between the States, has passed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. A Federal Officer is subject to a fine of $1,000.00 if he fails to aid a slave owner in returning
Jun 18, 2015 Algernon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015

I got a tree on my back and a haint in my house, and nothing in between but the daughter I am holding in my arms. No more running - from nothing. I will never run from another thing on this earth. I took one journey and I paid for the ticket, but let me tell you something: it cost too much! Do you hear me? It cost too much.

What's the difference between tragedy and melodrama? To me Sethe is one of the most tragic heroines in literature, but not everybody feels the same. The most peculiar critic
Rakhi Dalal
The clear blue sky above, the richness of life around, stretching from the vivid colors in the nature to the exquisiteness that material life offers. The soft milky ambrosia not once maligned by the sweat of forced labor, the promise of a day to mull over existence for the mind is not strained with the thought of an empty stomach. Granted free thought. The assurance of a smile on your kid’s face for he has never known deprivation or fear. The assurance of a smile on your face for you have always ...more
Jan 06, 2008 Gadabyte rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: your meth-addicted uncle chester
confusing, boring, and pretentious, this is the book that convinced me that the pulitzer doesn't mean shit.
Oct 03, 2015 [P] rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bitch-please
You know, sometimes I just don’t get other readers. I can’t relate to their reactions, their expectations, their way of looking at things. Take Beloved, a book that I have only ever part read, having given up about a third of the way into it. Reaction to the book seems to be about evenly split between those who hate it and those who love it. Which is fine, of course. Yet the haters appear to base their antipathy on the subject matter; they, according to the reviews I’ve read, have a problem with ...more
I have long believed in ghosts, but not in the supernatual or paranormal sense. I believe ghosts are memories or what Toni Morrison names as "rememory." I heard on NPR this week a man say that he was the grandchild of slaves and when he went into the voting booth and cast his ballot for Senator Obama he saw his grandparents faces, rememory. I once went to Auschwitz in Poland and my friend said to me as we walked thru the sadness, "they are looking at us, they are in the flowers," rememory. I hav ...more
Beloved has been more quickly and thoroughly canonized than any other modern book, so and because it suffers from two curses. The first is the curse of the classic itself, what you might call the Moby-Dick curse: everyone read it too early so no one liked it. It's not exactly difficult (nor exactly is Moby-Dick), but it's not easy either, and a high schooler forced to read it is going to suspect it of being good for her, which is no fun for anyone. When I polled my bookish friends about this boo ...more
To make the reasons for an act of violence felt by me is one thing. To do so in a book that takes the part of the victim is… testament to Morrison's genius and to the compelling quality of the reasons. Slavery, to those who know, is worse than death, and more.

But reasons don't make an unassailable right; their value depends on what you can know in your bones, and what you can know depends... depends on the heart, the bones, what happens to you, on the shape of your days. So this is a story that
Nov 11, 2012 Daniel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After "Cloud Atlas" knocked me around, I looked over my groaning to-read shelf in search of another chewy, thoughtful read. I picked "Beloved" out of the bunch and read over Toni Morrison's name and I knew that I was in good hands.

Here is another book that stormed my psyche and dosed me with emotions and impressions that shifted parts of me with tectonic force. From page one, Morrison throws you into the lives of black women and men who grew up as slaves and suffered unimaginable acts of cruelty
Feb 20, 2016 Mona rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Haunting, Dreamlike Ghost Story about Runaway Slaves

A lot already written about this Pulitzer Prize novel

A lot has been written about Toni Morrison's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, "Beloved".
Plus, there was the famous movie starring Oprah Winfrey (I never saw it).

Avoiding spoilers

So, I'll keep this brief. Besides, the less I say about the story, the fewer spoilers I'll reveal.

Controversial novel

I know the novel is controversial. Some love it, some hate it.

PTSD of former slaves

I haven't read othe
Jun 15, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: 1001 book readers
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list and some of the Goodreads readers!
"Definitions are for the definers not for the defined. .."
For me this sentence pretty much characterized the book as Sethe, Paul D, Denver and Beloved all try to establish the boundaries and create definitions for themselves and their place following their enslavement. When you have effectively been robbed of your humanity and treated with less dignity than an animal; forbidden to love or develop attachment for people or things, finding a place in the world which fits is no easy task. Beloved co
K.D. Absolutely
Jul 15, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: TIME Magazine's Best 100 Novels, 500 Must Read Books, Pulitzer Winner, Oprah Selection, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core, 501, apartheid
My first book by Toni Morrison (born Chloe Ardelia Wofford in 1931), the first black Nobel (1993) laureate for literature. Published in 1998 and many considered as her greatest work, Beloved won that year's Pulitzer award.

This is also my 124th book included in the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die 2010 edition and I say that there is absolutely nothing like this. The theme is multi-layered: pointblank, it looks like a plain ghost story. But if you dig deeper, it is an anti-racial novel in
Barry Pierce
Oct 28, 2014 Barry Pierce rated it liked it
Imagine an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? but with less Ryan Gosling and more white guilt. Nah I'm only joking. I really liked this but it wasn't what I was expecting at all. Toni Morrison is clearly one of the greatest writers of her generation, if anyone doesn't agree with this then they are wrong. Of course this novel is disturbing and sick but also profound and memorable. I did personally prefer Sula but I can see why this one is the most famous. I think I can officially diagnose mys ...more
3.5 stars

A piercing and poetic examination of slavery and its aftereffects. Beloved centers on Sethe, a woman born into slavery who manages to escape - but at a great cost. Among many traumatic memories, her fear-laced decision to kill one of her own children haunts her the most. Now, 18 years later, the ghost of this deceased baby comes back to haunt Sethe, as well as all of the still-living people she loves.

Toni Morrison tackles so much in Beloved: racism, trauma, slavery, family, the supernat
“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.”
Toni Morrison’s Beloved is a melancholic but beautifully written story about Sethe, a slave woman who having escaped slavery will never be free. She is daunted not only by her memories, but also by the ghost of her baby daughter that died nameless. On her grave there is just a word: Beloved. Her suffering is poignant and heartbreaking.
“Sad as it was that she did not know where her children were buried or w
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Toni Morrison (born Chloe Anthony Wofford), is an American author, editor, and professor who won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature for being an author "who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality."

Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed African American characters; among the best k
More about Toni Morrison...

Other Books in the Series

Toni Morrison Trilogy (3 books)
  • Jazz (Toni Morrison Trilogy, #2)
  • Paradise (Toni Morrison Trilogy, #3)

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“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” 2205 likes
“Love is or it ain't. Thin love ain't love at all.” 1653 likes
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