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Posts Tagged ‘Consolata’

Paradise-ToniMorrison2Paradise is the first book I’ve read by Toni Morrison, and I can assure you I will read more. In fact, it’s hard for me to not go back and re-read this book right now.

Here’s a couple things I can tell you – do not read this book late at night when you’re tired; do not put it down for extended periods of time and think you will be able to easily jump right back in; and do not read it when distracted. Here’s why. Toni Morrison assumes you’re paying attention. Her characters are complex as is the storyline … there’s a lot to remember … a lot you want to remember when you’re reading Paradise. This is not light reading, but it is a truly amazing read.

Toni Morrison’s use of language is exquisite; I was thrilled repeatedly with the beauty of how she chooses and uses words. Her characters are so real I wanted to either step in the pages to be with them or have them come and sit down by me and talk; tell me about their lives and how they changed being in Ruby, OK; how they changed living in the Convent with Connie and the other women; tell me more.

The storyline of Paradise is of a group of ex-slaves freed from Louisiana and Mississippi who, rejected by their fairer skinned brethren and terrified by whites, set up their own community deep in the Oklahoma country, self-sufficient and proud. The history of their forefathers was revered and their insular lives safe. Safe except for the women who had come to live at the Convent – women whose lives had been torn apart by suffering at one time or another and who made their way, tried to heal, in this isolated home outside town. Paradise is, in part, about what happens when people come to see others the same way they once were viewed and what they do about it. And, in part, about redemption and finding one’s place in the world.

This is far, far, far too simplistic a summary of this extraordinary novel. If you want to be immersed in another time and place, in the lives of people so real it can be painful, perhaps Paradise is for you. I’m not sure what I can read right after this that will not pale beside it.

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