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Paradise by Toni Morrison


by Toni Morrison

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English (24)  Dutch (1)  All languages (25)
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
This story about race is told by the women of a town that began as a settlement of freed slaves who moved their society to a place they built out of devotion to their beliefs and the signs created from said devotion. The story is short, but is retold from each woman's point of view. Some of the women have always lived there, some have come only recently, all have a connection to the strange house located well outside of the city.

The story isn't always linear and there were times when I thought something was purposefully meant to be so confusing that you just couldn't follow it. Some of the poetic writing is just a little too cryptic to understand without some pause to think about the situation a little. Books should be that way at times, when the balance is right, and this book has almost perfect balance. In a way there is a great mystery to this book, because even though the story starts with what is obviously the end of the story, you find yourself wondering how it all came about. You find yourself reading for the writing style just as much as the mystery though. It is simply that good. ( )
  mirrani | Nov 11, 2014 |
Disappointing ending. ( )
  CSRodgers | Aug 10, 2014 |
Such a compelling read that kept me immersed in its pages and world that it was hard to come up for breath. A tough book to review as I just feel like gushing over it enthusiastically! I haven't read a book by Morrison that I didn't like but I did find this one quite different. It wasn't so raw nor did it deal with such uncomfortable subjects as the other books I've read by her so far that it did make a unexpected, but pleasant, change for me. Each chapter tells the story from a different woman's point of view (though always from the third person) and this is one of my personal favourite devices in storytelling. It is a story of race, as it tells the story of a black town founded on the principles that many original black towns, after slavery, were themselves colour conscience and this specific group of ex-slaves and free men (and their family's) were very dark black, searching to settle down but refused entry to a light-skinned black town. So they found Ruby, a place that disregards "white" ways but has a special grudge against the "light-skinned" of their own race. They find their nemesis in a convent house located outside of their town which is inhabited by a rag-tag of abandoned, forlorn but independent women of varying races which the reader is never made aware of except that one is white. The book starts off with a group of the townsmen descending upon the convent women and shooting the "white one" first. Then we go back in time and the whole story of both the town's founding and present state along with how the various women came and ended up staying at the old convent came to such an ominous state suvh as where we first find them. A totally gripping read of strong female characters who escape their dysfunctional lives and become independent and bond with each other while only miles away a secluded patriarchal society grows deeper and deeper into believing its own righteousness and thinking itself above the "whitemen's" law. A stunning read. Not my favourite of Morrison's but very close and appealing to see her write something a little different from her usual themes. ( )
  ElizaJane | Apr 29, 2014 |
Paradise by Toni Morrison

Non-linear and filled with many characters, some of those having multiple names, don't expect Paradise to be a casual Sunday stroll in the park. About a third of the way through I stopped struggling & let myself simply experience the novel. I stopped trying to make sense of it and just read it. That did make it easier to read though I NEVER find Toni Morrison's books easy to read. If one enjoyed the book I would think it would require more than one reading. I didn't & so I won't be reading this one again.
Although emotionally and beautifully rich in Morrison prose as always, her novels require patience & thought, an open mind & a willingness to just let her lead you where she will without having attempting to understand how or why.
I must say however, that the more of Morrison I read the less I enjoy/appreciate her work other than for the lovely prose. ( )
2 vote rainpebble | Feb 7, 2014 |
Opening with the most chilling line in literature, "They shoot the white girl first," Paradise continues to read as haunting as its opening line. Morrison builds the story around the town of Ruby, its history and the history of its residents. When the occupants of the former Convent on the outskirts of Ruby threatens all that the town stands for, the men of Ruby take matters into their own hands.

There are scores of characters throughout Paradise. They all possess a dark secret or either they are shrouded in some type of sorrow. The twins, Deek and Steward, govern Ruby with an iron fist while Connie welcomes women into the Convent with no questions asked. The twins will do whatever it takes to protect the way of life in Ruby. Ruby is somewhat of a African-American utopia with strict age, family, class, and religious divides. At the Convent women of various backgrounds, ages, and lifestyles come and go but most can't seem to stay away. The Convent and its occupants are shunned by most of the residents of Ruby outside of them purchasing vegtables but there are a few who visit for other reasons.

The town of Ruby has a rich history and so does the Convent. There are layers of family and personal history that Morrison weaves intricately throughout each chapter. The stories that surround the Convent and the women that found refuge there were the most captivating for me. Ruby and its residents could have been totally removed from the story and I would not have missed them. The characters that made up the town of Ruby were flat with one except the midwife, Lone DuPres. The Convent women had rich stories full of life and depth.

Paradise is dark and sorrowful. There is a feminist feel about it. For me there was a lot of disconnect and places where I simply got lost in what I would describe as rambling. After a while, I found re-reading passages proved useless. I never truly found the "core" of the story. The reader can never really pin point who the "white girl" is. The race of most of the Convent women is ambiguous. I reached a bright spot in the narrative close to the end when a totally unexpected love story was brought to the light. I once thought if I read and understood Morrison's novel, Love, I could make it through any of her books. I was wrong. Paradise was torture for me.
  pinkcrayon99 | Apr 29, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Toni Morrisonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jonkheer, ChristienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
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Voor Lois
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They shoot the white girl first.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:27:37 -0400)

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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.

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