Love: A Novel Reviews

Posted by admin | Posted in Love | Posted on 14-09-2010-05-2008

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Love: A Novel

  • ISBN13: 9781400078479
  • Condition: New
  • Notes: BUY WITH CONFIDENCE, Over one million books sold! 98% Positive feedback. Compare our books, prices and service to the competition. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed

Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison’s spellbinding new novel is a Faulknerian symphony of passion and hatred, power and perversity, color and class that spans three generations of black women in a fading beach town.

In life, Bill Cosey enjoyed the affections of many women, who would do almost anything to gain his favor. In death his hold on them may be even stronger. Wife, daughter, granddaughter, employee, mistress: As Morrison’s protagonists stake their furious claim on Cosey’s memory and estate, using everything from intrigue to outright violence, she creates a work that is shrewd, funny, erotic, and heartwrenching.The first page of Toni Morrison’s novel Love is a soft introduction to a narrator who pulls you in with her version of a tale of the ocean-side community of Up Beach, a once popular ocean resort. Morrison introduces an enclave of people who react to one man–Bill Cosey–and to each other as they tell of his affect on generations of characters living in the sea

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Review by H. F. Corbin for Love: A Novel
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No living author with the possible exception of Gabriel Garcia Marquez has better opening lines than Toni Morrison. For dead writers, she ranks with Melville, Camus and Tolstoy for that honor. LOVE begins with these words: “The women’s legs are spread wide open, so I hum. Men grow irritable, but they know it’s all for them. They relax. Standing by, unable to do anything but , is a trial, but I don’t say a word.” When Morrison finishes her story about 200 pages later, we have met a host of unforgettable characters, mostly women– Heed, Christine, May, Junior, Vida, L, all who are obsessed with one Bill Cosey. I always marvel at the strength of Morrison’s characters. Although they often face untold hardships, they seldom whine and often prevail. As usual, Morrison’s plot is not linear but goes back and forth in time from the Civil Rights era to before and after that time. We get the story little by little and ultimately get the whole story, and what a story it is.The book obviously is about love. Although there are other kinds of love here– erotic love, lust masquerading as love– the central love is that between two children, a love that was ruined by grownups. Years later as adults Heed and Christine finally get around to talking about their lost opportunities: “We could have been living our lives hand in hand instead of looking for Big Daddy everywhere.”There are memorable lines throughout the novel. Christine opines that “her last good chance for happiness [is] wrecked by the second oldest enemy in the world: another woman.” Cosey says that “you can live with anything if you have what you can’t live without.” Finally, Sandler in a lecture to his teenage son gives a moving tribute to women: “A woman is an important somebody and sometimes you win the triple crown: good food, good , and good talk. Most men settle for any one, happy as a clam if they get two. But listen, let me tell you something. A good man is a good thing, but there is nothing in the world better than a good good woman. She can be your mother, your wife, your girlfriend, your sister, or somebody you work next to. Don’t matter. You find one, stay there.”On of the joys of living now is reading a new Toni Morrison novel. May she live long and write many more!

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Review by Maurice Williams for Love: A Novel
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I can never really put my finger on it but whenever I’ve finished a Morrison novel, I’m left nursing a range of emotions from awe to despair. I’m left pondering what the book was all about, which forces me to exam more closely the themes, characters, and conflicts of the novel. The end result of this closer examination is always a better understanding of self and a richer appreciation for others.In Morrison’s latest novel, the author examines the consequences of perhaps the most sought after emotion in human existence. Love, and its various faces – hate lust, envy – is set during the 1950′s in an ocean side town where Bill Cosey owns a resort that caters to middle and upper class blacks. Heed, Christine and May are the primary characters. L, a narrating spirit and former employee of the resort, provides background and insight into the other characters motives in a voice that resonates with truth and love. Heed and Christine share a pure unconditional love that bonds the two in friendship until Bill, Christine’s grandfather, takes Heed as his bride. Bill, at age 52, purchases the 11-year-old Heed from her parents in hopes of obtaining a pure and virginal vessel to bear him a son to replace the one he lost to death. May, Christine’s mother, sees Heed as a threat to the family’s upper-class lifestyle and does everything in her power to disgrace the child bride. The love once shared by Heed and Christine is quickly turned into a life consuming hatred as May enlists Christine in her campaign against Heed. Morrison unleashes, with grace and assurance, the literary skills she has cultivated over the course of her career. She is a master at telling a story from the inside out. Love, with wonderfully drawn characters and imagistic prose that nearly leaps from the page, is a splendid compliment to the author’s literary canon. The novel is thin but deep. The only thing better than reading a Morrison novel is having a few people to discuss it with. Curl up and enjoy!

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Review by Peggy Vincent for Love: A Novel
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Toni Morrison is without peer; and she just keeps getting better and better. In Love (have you EVER heard a more audacious title?), Morrison crafts a rich and dense novel that illuminates the spectrum of desire. Bill Cosey, a charismatic dude if ever there was one, ran a ritzy seaside resort for African Americans in the wild and wooly 40s and 50s. But now he’s dead, and the story becomes a portrait of his power, unusual for black men of his times, and its effect on those who came after him.
Women. Oh, where would this story be without women? In Bill’s wake, the women of his life vie for position, scrabbling over the will he wrote eons ago on a throw-away menu.
If you love Toni Morrison’s rich writing style, you won’t be disappointed, but you might want to keep a pen and pad of paper handy to keep track of the loooong list of characters.

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Review by Debbie Lee Wesselmann for Love: A Novel
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Toni Morrison’s fiction has justifiably been heralded as some of the best existing within contemporary literature. In her newest novel, LOVE, Morrison weaves a simpler and more easily followed story than she did in PARADISE. Set in Up Beach, a dying resort town that once attracted the finest jazz musicians and their upper class followers, Morrison creates a tale of failed lives and dreams. Hotel owner Bill Cosey was powerful in life, and is even more powerful in death, as his mistakes and decisions live on in those who survived him and even in those who never knew him. The writing is elegantly exact, though I would expect nothing less from Morrison, but, in the voice of L, the italicized voice framing the novel, can become overly grand. At times, I couldn’t help hearing the voice of Della Reese in “Touched By An Angel,” the preachy, sentimental television show of a while back. Still, this novel is engrossing and surprisingly accessible. Until the second half, when Morrison fails to bring together the narratives into a powerful and convincing whole, this novel promised to be one of Morrison’s best.Part of my disappointment in this book comes from my expectations; Morrison is truly one of America’s finest writers, and I had hoped to discover another literary tour de force. Instead, this novel feels small, not because of its relatively short length but because Morrison fails to take the reader beyond the specifics of her characters’ lives. Even worse, the ending is neat, and somewhat forced, something I never would have expected from Morrison. Despite the novel’s failings, it is still better than much of what is being published today. You won’t find Morrison’s masterpiece in LOVE, but you will find skilled writing and an often compelling story. Better than PARADISE but not nearly as accomplished as BELOVED, this novel is middling Morrison, something most other writers can only dream of accomplishing.

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Review by SATHYARAJ.V. for Love: A Novel
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Toni Morrison’s new opus, Love is simultaneously a subtle meditation on the machinations of love and a poignant reflection about the epistemological reality of emotions and desires that informs humanity. Though the theme found its effective expression in Sula, it is with Love that Morrison reaches into new emotional depths and seriousness that establish her again as a mature artist. Like Paradise, Love is peopled “by scheming, bitter women and selfish, predatory men: women engaged in cartoon-violent catfights; men catting around and going to cathouses” as Michiko Kakutani observes in The New York Times. But, in spite of such a demoralizing circumambience Love at its core is a creative exercise to comprehend what “friendship and love” would mean as Morrison says, “when there’s a cataclysm and conflict in belief.”Set in Atlantic coast, Love centers around the “commanding, beautiful”(36) but enigmatic Bill Cosey and the six women obstinately obsessed with him. Cosey, when alive was a legendary figure and the owner of deluxe hotel and resort where “people debated death in the cities, murder in Mississippi, and what they planned to do about it other than grieve and stare at their children” (35). As the novel begins in 1990′s, Cosey (and his resort) is already dead but looms large controlling his granddaughter, Christine as well as his wife, Heed who live in a hate-fueled house to claim the property of Cosey. Amidst such a claustrophobic world comes Junior as a secretary to Heed to help her write the family history of Coseys. In fact, it is through Junior, an 18 years old girl from Correctional, that half of the mysterious life of Cosey is revealed. Perhaps the most troubling and haunting section of the novel is when we learn that Christian and Heed were close friends and further that Cosey married a “pre-menstrual” 11-year-old Heed some twenty five years before. To quote Christine: “My grandfather married her when she was eleven. We were best friends. One day we built castles on the beach; next day he sat her in his lap. One day we were playing house under a quilt; next day she slept in his bed.” With this change in blood and power relationship initiated by Cosey, readers like L are left with the larger question whether to consider Cosey “a good bad man, or a bad good man” (200). Regular readers of Morrison will consider the thematic strands in Love, like “the sins of father” and female bonding, as a reaffirmation of certain truths explored in Morrison’s previous novels such as The Bluest Eye, Sula and Song of Solomon.Another significant textual presence is L, a former cook of Cosey’s restaurant, whose choric ruminations not only frames the narration but also fills in Cosey’s complicated past. This disembodied and rational voice knew Cosey for a long time and readily understood that “families make the best enemies. They have time and convenience to honey-butter the wickedness they prefer”. Such interspersed “humming[s]” (4) of L not only offers clue to the enigmatic relationship between Heed and Christian but also guides the readers to interpret the events of the novel. Finally like the best of Morrison’s novels, Love leaves many questions unanswered such as Is Bill Cosey really good or bad? Did his “pleasure was in pleasing” (33) others as Vida observes? How did Bill Cosey die? Whether “the double C’s engraved on the silver was one letter doubled or the pairing of Christian’s initials?” (73) Why did Cosey’s Resort fail?. Morrison like L makes us believe that we “are both smart and lucky” (4) and prods the readers to find their own answers. While the power of the novel lies in the intense, wrenching plot, its success depends on Morrison’s ability to evoke diverse emotions and sustain ambiguities. In a characteristic vein Love continues Morrison’s legacy of exploring sophisticated relationship between history and individuals. If Beloved and Jazz had Slavery and Harlem as their historical backdrop, it is Civil Rights Movement that informs Love. Through depicting the death of Cosey and his heavenly resort as an end of an era Morrison deeply contemplates “what might be lost if Civil Rights have been won” and subtly hints that the resort survived because of the Segregation law. Thus, Love is yet another instance that fits into Morrison’s avowed position that “stories and storytelling convey information, necessary information, available nowhere else”. Furthermore, there are clear references to the death of Emmett Till, African American militant organizations like SNCC, World War II, Eisenhower years and so on. Though Love, lacks the poetic vision of Beloved and mythic heft of Song of Solomon, it could be appraised for Morrison’s incisive blend of technical expertise and “imaginative” use of language which together serve to comment on time honored themes of the novel. Interspersed with truths charged with passion the language becomes dense and “creative” as “hatred” in the novel. A few vignettes is suffice to illustrate these characteristics:Their faces, as different as honey and soot, looked identical. Hate does that. Burns off everything but itself, so whatever your grievance is, your face looks just like your enemy’s.
Like friendship, hatred needed more than physical intimacy; it wanted creativity and hard work to sustain itself (74).

While stylistically, Love is another instance of Morrison’s consummate craftsmanship. Like any other novel of Morrison, we see the use of devices such as multiple points of view, disorientation of time, and retrospective narration. But ultimately, it is Morrison’s cosmic mind and humanistic consciousness that make Love possible rather than linguistic and technical athleticism. Given these facts, it will not be surprising to learn that the novel has already won NACCP and Image Award within such a short span, besides being considered for Britain’s prestigious Orange Fiction prize. For these virtues Love as The Cleveland Plain Dealer says, “deserves to be read. For pure pleasure, it deserves to be read more than once.”

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