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On Beauty
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1001 book reviews > On Beauty by Zadie Smith

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Diane | 1997 comments Rating: 4 Stars

A number of people read this for the Diversity Challenge, but I wasn't able to easily navigate through all the posts in this thread and find the other reviews. I apologize if this is a duplicate post for this book.

I liked this much more than I thought I would. A lot of my GR friends gave it a low rating, so I didn't go in with high expectations. I was pleasantly surprised. The book is about an academic bi-racial family from the Boston area, and their connection to Wellington, a prestigious local college possibly based on Harvard. Overall, an interesting insight into family relationships, race, privilege, social class, and the choices people make. As the title suggests, the perception of beauty is a pervasive theme of the book: reactions to physical beauty, loss of beauty, and beauty as it relates to art.

Kristel (kristelh) | 3895 comments Mod
Read 2015
I have not heard/read any strong reviews for this book and fully expected to struggle and even planned to give up and switch to a different book. When I started the book, I thought "there is no way I am going to relate to these characters". This is about the lives of black people. The author is English, black, the setting is East Coast USA, academia. The story revolves around two families of college professors in the art field. Two men who appose each other in all points of political and moral culture; one white, one black. Two women, their wives, both black and their children who are struggling to find their identities while the adults are falling apart in their midlife crisis. I give it 5 stars, perhaps 4.5 stars would be better. Sex was a big part of this story. I don't exactly appreciate that component but then I think, "could this story be told without the sex?, was this gratuitous sex, to sell a novel?" Over all, I really think the author is all that others have used to describe her "gifted, sassy, philosophical, master of prose, master of detail, clever.

Daisey | 228 comments I did not particularly enjoy this story, but I think I may have appreciated it more if I had chosen to read it more slowly to savor the details. It was interesting to consider this perspective, but I did not connect well to the characters in the story. I did think that for a book with so many characters, each of them stood out well with their own peronailty.

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