Paradise was Toni Morrison’s first novel after winning the Nobel Prize. Her success and acclaim as a writer make every novel she publishes a battle against proving she can surpass what she has already accomplished. With Paradise, there seemed to be a consensus among critics and reviewers that the work was powerful, but it didn’t match the power of the works that made her famous. But Paradise is as original and breathtaking as Morrison’s other major novels. Returning to the rural life of her most famous settings from other books, Morrison focuses on an obscure portion of American history in the decades after the Civil War. She looks at a small black community that establishes itself in Oklahoma as part of the government’s encouragement after the war for blacks to settle out west. She then charts the development of this community from 1890 up to a tragic event in 1976. Seeking to preserve a close-knit settlement built on family values, the elderly men of the community become wary of a group of estranged women who begin to gather at an abandoned convent outside of town. Morrison examines the fears that lead to misunderstanding in this epic tale of a small community struggling against the enormous forces of history.
***** Solid 5 stars from me. Toni Morrison is a genius fiction writer. Incredible story.
This novel is set during the 1970s in an all black town in Oklahoma, originally founded by former slaves. Nearby is a "convent", a former school now inhabited by damaged women who have sought refuge and healing there. The outside world is infringing on these communities. The town is patriarchial, strict and colour-coded and the men, threatened by the nearby community of women, strike out violently against it. Morrison's ideas are interesting, but she did not succeed in pulling it off.
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