To the first book...
I had read another by Toni Morrison so I was already familiar with her writing style, dream-like and lyrical, with strong female characters, complicated women in a mixed up world. I had recommended Song of Solomon to a friend, (Pilate being one of those vivid characters who has remained in my imagination ever since) and she had found Beloved and lent it to me with a plea,
"Tell me what its about!".
The cover is not the original, but from the film, black with an ethereal woman in dark clothing, whose face is turned away from us. This cover emulates the contents, a dark, disturbing tale set in a dark disturbing time. I was shocked within its first few pages by the story's beginnings and the early introduction of a dead baby, who was killed by her mother, and now appears to wreak violent revenge with its furious disturbances, in a house containing 3 female characters, all intriguing, mesmerising even, in their own right.
Toni Morrison weaves a blanket of dark threads that form a coherent overall shape (more so than Song of Solomon I thought) even if the meaning of the story remains ambiguous. The language is rich and beautiful, and the backdrop of slavery in nineteenth century U.S.A. is not over-milked, therefore throwing the reader further off kilter when its cruelties are spoken of. The effect is unsettling, moving and continually intriguing.
The core of this story, however, is Who is Beloved? A ghost, a girl lost, or both?
I found the following links interesting and helpful...