A Novel

Morrison, Toni

(Book - 1987)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
After Paul D. finds his old slave friend Sethe in Ohio and moves in with her and her daughter Denver, a strange girl comes along by the name of "Beloved." Sethe and Denver take her in and then strange things begin to happen. Set in rural Ohio several years after the Civil War, this profoundly affecting chronicle of slavery and its aftermath is Toni Morrison's greatest novel, a dazzling achievement, and the most spellbinding reading experience of the decade. A brutally powerful, mesmerizing story ... read it and tremble. At the center of Toni Morrison's fifth novel, which earned her the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, is an almost unspeakable act of horror and heroism: a woman brutally kills her infant daughter rather than allow her to be enslaved. The woman is Sethe, and the novel traces her journey from slavery to freedom during and immediately following the Civil War. Woven into this circular, mesmerizing narrative are the horrible truths of Sethe's past: the incredible cruelties she endured as a slave, and the hardships she suffered in her journey north to freedom. Just as Sethe finds the past too painful to remember, and the future just "a matter of keeping the past at bay," her story is almost too painful to read. Yet Morrison manages to imbue the wreckage of her characters' lives with compassion, humanity, and humor. Part ghost story, part history lesson, part folk tale, Beloved finds beauty in the unbearable, and lets us all see the enduring promise of hope that lies in anyones future.

Series that include this title

Publisher: New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1987
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 0394535979
Branch Call Number: FICTION MORRISON
Characteristics: 275 p. ;,24 cm


From Library Staff

A college boyfriend suggested I read this book. It was by far his soundest piece of advice to me. A spellbinding masterpiece of fiction.

Sethe, an escaped slave living in post-Civil War Ohio with her daughter and mother-in-law, is persistently haunted by the ghost of her dead baby girl.

This book is about the repercussions of slavery for the people who survived it and it features a terrifying baby ghost. Morrison is an amazing, evocative writer.

Comment by: multcolib_dianaa Mar 04, 2014

This book is about the repercussions of slavery for the people who survived it and features a terrifying baby ghost. Morrison is an amazing, evocative writer.

A haunting depiction of slavery and it's consequences, Booklist wrote: "...Morrison's vision of black life, particularly the impact of the past on the present, is mythical in the telling." The book has been challenged for "sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence".

From the critics

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Jul 05, 2014
  • cfogarty66 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

If you like Beloved, you read the The Bluest Eyes!

Jun 17, 2014
  • voisjoe1 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This was a complex novel, as it bridges the years when slave-holding was legal in America to the decade after the outlawing of slavery by the Thirteenth Amendment. We meet slaves, slave-holders, people helping slaves cross the Ohio River into free-state Ohio, bounty hunters pursuing slaves in free-state Ohio, and also former slaves, years after the granting of their freedom. The novel bounces back-and-forth across the border and also across time, so the reader has the task of trying to keep track of why the author sequences the events as she does. But this is her masterpiece and she is a Nobel Prize winner and she is at the top of her game in this work. Readers still argue today, was infanticide the best option for one of the protagonists of the novel?

Mar 04, 2014

This book is about the repercussions of slavery for the people who survived it and features a terrifying baby ghost. Morrison is an amazing, evocative writer.

Dec 05, 2013
  • EuSei rated this: 0.5 stars out of 5.

In this book, a slave woman kills her daughter so she will avoid slavery. I believe Albert Murray (according to Edwin Yoder) has the best definition of this book: “the idea, though inspired by an actual event, was beyond silly. Whatever the evils of slavery, death was worse, and infanticide, after all, was a grave crime.” (For the ones who still don’t know, Mr. Murray was a black man; he died August 2013.) PS: Attempts to censor my comments will be fiercely fought under the aegis of American Library Association's beloved principles: Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Read, Intellectual Freedom.

Jan 31, 2013
  • JSx rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

There are a lot of references to biblical stories in Revelation, I don't think anyone has noticed that.

Dec 27, 2012
  • areidc rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is a profound work on many levels. I'm guessing that because it is so many things, I don't usually hear people talk about it as one of the best ghost stories out there. Morrison sets the stage where the living, the dead and all that is in-the-between interact. They hate, harass, molest, soothe, inspire and love one another. Morrison is recognized as being a master of the five senses; however, it’s how she inspires that illusive sixth sense which makes her writing so phenomenal. Take your choice...call it a textbook or a Bible. That's an issue of semantics as far as I'm concerned. Whatever you call it, Beloved is a masterpiece of Magical Realism.

Mar 01, 2012
  • VIRNET36 rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

This is absolutely the strangest story I have ever read. I've also seen the movie and I don't get it.

Jan 13, 2012

I read this for my American Literature class this past year. Utterly genius. The way Morrison writes about slavery using clever metaphors and symbolism blows my mind.

Aug 08, 2010
  • galenbaby rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

The smartest and most imaginative exploration of slavery ever written. Toni Morrison is a complete genius for writing this book.

Jan 01, 2010
  • macierules rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Stories of slavery are always horrifying to me; this one is more gut-wrenching than them all.

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Jun 10, 2014
  • knitty78 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

knitty78 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Sep 26, 2013
  • EuSei rated this: 0.5 stars out of 5.

EuSei thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


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Sep 24, 2012

Violence: Rape. Extreme violence.

Sep 24, 2012

Sexual Content: Oral sex, incest


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