Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Paradise by Toni Morrison


by Toni Morrison

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,163331,769 (3.7)209
  1. 10
    Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker (Booksloth)
  2. 00
    The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich (tangentialine)
    tangentialine: I love how the structure is similar, but also how in both books there is attention to some key characters and a focus on racial tension and the heritage of the past. And the language is breathtakingly gorgeous in both books.
  3. 01
    The Help by Kathryn Stockett (krizia_lazaro)
  4. 01
    The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (Booksloth)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 209 mentions

English (32)  Dutch (1)  All languages (33)
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
Paradise opens with a scapegoat massacre. "They shoot the white girl first. With the rest they can take their time." Who that white girl is, is left for the reader to decide. I suppose the mystery is meant to be compelling.

In spite of some great writing, if I have one main complaint it's that too many of the characters seem a little too superficial, a bit too symbolic or perhaps even cliché. For this reason the book drags somewhat in the middle, or maybe even the entire first half except for the opening chapter. ( )
  Frenzie | Aug 14, 2016 |

Shortly before Christmas, an unidentified sailor jumps overboard and swims toward the harbor of Queen of France in the middle of the night. Unable to reach shore, he climbs aboard a small yacht and stows away. When the yacht lands, he disembarks onto a small island called Isle des Chevaliers, and he hides again, this time at a house called L’Arbe de la Croix. Valerian Street and his wife, Margaret, live in the house, along with their servants, including Ondine and Sydney. Jadine Childs, the niece of Ondine and Sydney, has come to visit. Before coming back to the island, she studied at the Sorbonne, an education for which Valerian paid, and worked as a model in Paris.

Margaret and Valerian fight a lot, mostly because Margaret has invited a number of guests to come stay, against Valerian’s wishes. One of these guests is the Streets’ son, Michael, but Valerian doubts that he will really come. After a particularly fierce argument at dinner one night, Margaret goes to her room, but she quickly returns to the dining room screaming. Sydney runs to Margaret’s room and returns to announce that there is a man hiding in her closet. Everyone but Valerian is terrified. Valerian invites the man, whose name is Son, to stay the night.

The next morning, Margaret, who is extremely upset with Valerian, locks herself in her room. Meanwhile Jadine’s rich, white boyfriend, Ryk, has sent her a luxurious sealskin coat. Son shows up in her room as she tries on the coat, and they talk in a flirtatious way that eventually starts to frighten Jadine. After Son makes some sexually crude remarks, Jadine threatens to report him to Valerian, after which she goes to find Valerian.

As another servant, Thérèse, does laundry, she thinks about Son, who had been in the house for several days prior to his discovery and whom Thérèse had been feeding. With Jadine gone to find Valerian, Son showers in her bathroom. When he is clean, he looks much more attractive. He finds Valerian before Jadine does, and he impresses Valerian with his knowledge of gardening and his sense of humor. Valerian tells Sydney to help Son get new clothes, and Gideon, another servant, and Thérèse take him shopping in a town near L’Arbe de la Croix. When Jadine sees the cleaned-up Son, she decides not to tell Valerian about his behavior in her bedroom. Instead, she invites Son on a picnic at the beach, and they talk a lot about their backgrounds. Despite their differences, they seem to connect on some level. On the way back from the picnic, their car runs out of gas, and Son leaves to retrieve gas from a pump at the pier. While Jadine waits, she decides to seek shelter from the sun and abandons the car. On her way to some nearby trees, she gets stuck in a swamp but manages to escape. Ondine is upset that Jadine and Son seem to be getting closer, but she does not intervene.

When Christmas arrives, Michael fails to show up, and the other guests get delayed because of bad weather. Margaret’s spirits sink, and she abandons her elaborate cooking projects and leaves Ondine to finish them. At Christmas dinner, Valerian upsets Ondine, Sydney, and Son when he announces that he fired Gideon and Thérèse for stealing apples. A heated argument breaks out. At the end of it, Ondine reveals that Margaret abused Michael when he was a boy. Valerian goes into shock, and Son and Jadine leave the table and go to bed together.

Soon after, Jadine and Son leave the island. They go to New York, having a great, carefree time as lovers. They live in a borrowed apartment, and neither of them has a permanent job, but they don’t seem to care very much about money. Meanwhile, back on the island, things are much more subdued, and Valerian refuses to let Margaret explain her actions to him. Ondine and Sydney worry that they will be fired.

When spring arrives, Jadine and Son visit his hometown of Eloe, Florida. The trip is a disaster for their relationship, because Jadine hates Eloe, and Son loves it. The many differences between Jadine and Son come to the surface, and their divisions tear them apart when they end up back in New York. They fight more and more frequently. After a particularly violent confrontation, Jadine leaves Son and New York behind. She intends to return to Paris, but first she stops at Isle des Chevaliers to retrieve her sealskin coat. Ondine is upset that Jadine seems to care more about the coat than about either Ondine or Sydney, but her anger does not detain Jadine, and ultimately she heads to Paris, telling Ondine and Sydney not to tell Son where she has gone. Soon after she departs, Son arrives in Queen of France, and Thérèse agrees to take him to Isle des Chevaliers by boat, so he can look for Jadine. But instead of piloting him to L’Arbe de la Croix as she had promised, Thérèse leaves Son on a foggy part of the island, and she suggests that he still has a choice. He can either keep searching for Jadine, or he can join the race of wild horsemen on the island, descendants of the first slaves brought there. The island opens to accommodate Son as he joins the horsemen. ( )
  bostonwendym | Jul 26, 2016 |
A powerful mystery of the outrages accumulating at the Oven; a mother being knocked down the stairs by her daughter; four damaged infants were born in one family; daughters refused to get out of bed; brides never returned from their honeymoons; two brothers shot each other. The one thing connecting all of these horrible situations was the Convent. And those women were part of it.
  MerrittGibsonLibrary | Jun 24, 2016 |
A difficult subject, or couple of subjects really, to write about in alcoholism and adultery, and especially to write in a way that is both realistic and sympathetic, and without resorting to "bad things happened in childhood" as an excuse. I was holding my breath through the final chapters, hoping that everything would not be patly explained, and I was so happy that it was not.

And some beautiful and harsh words too..

"Because I've done the married man stuff before: the serious married man stuff with the calls at odd hours and the lunch-break fucks and him making you meet his wife socially (so that you'll know her, so that you can feel bad, too - except that you don't, because you're not married, that's his problem) and the not going out much in daylight and the wanting to have more of him, the hunger that almost wrecks you when you finally do touch - the whole, huge, locked-in crucifying, paranoid fantasy.!

I borrowed this book, and I will try to hang on to it for a while longer, to reread soon. ( )
  jkdavies | Jun 14, 2016 |
It seems so simple and horrifying in the beginning, but she explains everything!
Humanity is willing to find its own path, but in France we say:"l'enfer est pavé de bonnes intention".
There is a secret battle running underground between humans, males female, religion, whites, blacks, tradition, modernity...
There is also some kind of magic, for those who wish!
She is a great writer, and she made me feel some deep emotions; ( )
  Gerardlionel | Apr 2, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Toni Morrisonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jonkheer, ChristienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Want vele zijn de aangename vormen die schuilen in
talrijke zonden,
en losbandigheden,
en schandelijke passies
en vluchtige verrukkingen,
die (de mensen) gretig grijpen tot ze
tot bezinning komen
en naar hun rustplaats gaan.
Daar zullen zij me vinden,
en leven zullen ze,
en niet weer sterven.
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Voor Lois
First words
They shoot the white girl first.
Last words
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Publisher series
Original language
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679433740, Hardcover)

Oprah Book Club® Selection, January 1998: Toni Morrison's Paradise takes place in the tiny farming community of Ruby, Oklahoma, which its residents proudly proclaim "the one all-black town worth the pain." Settled by nine African American clans during the 1940s, the town represents a small miracle of self-reliance and community spirit. Readers might be forgiven, in fact, for assuming that Morrison's title refers to Ruby itself, which even during the 1970s retains an atmosphere of neighborliness and small-town virtue. Yet Paradises are not so easily gained. As we soon discover, Ruby is fissured by ancestral feuds and financial squabbles, not to mention the political ferment of the era, which has managed to pierce the town's pious isolation. In the view of its leading citizens, these troubles call for a scapegoat. And one readily exists: the Convent, an abandoned mansion not far from town--or, more precisely, the four women who occupy it, and whose unattached and unconventional status makes them the perfect targets for patriarchal ire. ("Before those heifers came to town," the men complain, "this was a peaceable kingdom.") One July morning, then, an armed posse sets out from Ruby for a round of ethical cleansing.

Paradise actually begins with the arrival of these vigilantes, only to launch into an intricate series of flashbacks and interlaced stories. The cast is large--indeed, it seems as though we must have met all 360 members of Ruby's populace--and Morrison knows how to imprint even the minor players on our brains. Even more amazing, though, are the full-length portraits she draws of the four Convent dwellers and their executioners: rich, rounded, and almost painful in their intimacy. This richness--of language and, ultimately, of human understanding--combats the aura of saintliness that can occasionally mar Morrison's fiction. It also makes for a spectacular piece of storytelling, in which such biblical concepts as redemption and divine love are no postmodern playthings but matters of life and (in the very first sentence, alas) death.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:23 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

As the novel begins deep in Oklahoma early one morning in 1976, nine men from Ruby assault the nearby Convent and the women in it.

» see all 6 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
318 avail.
33 wanted
4 pay3 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.7)
1 16
1.5 2
2 42
2.5 10
3 103
3.5 24
4 146
4.5 17
5 114


An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 109,157,476 books! | Top bar: Always visible