Beloved is one of Toni Morrison’s famous novels, which was adapted to a critically-acclaimed film of the same title. Inspired by the true events of Margaret Garner, an African American who escaped slavery in Kentucky in late January 1856 by crossing the Ohio River to Ohio. In Beloved, Morrison takes us deep into the psyche of the black experience at a time when slavery was still a common practice.
The novel follows Sethe, a woman born a slave who manages to escape with her children to Ohio. Though Sethe is free, she remains captive by horrible memories of her time at Sweet Home, the farm where she was working as a slave.
As the story unfolds, and Sethe’s memories begin to unravel, we realize that she is in fact haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and the word “Beloved” was engraved on her tombstone. The ghost of Beloved comes as a grown teenager to Sethe, and is determined to show her anger at Sethe over the singular events that led to Beloved’s death as a baby. Sethe takes the abuse of her Beloved because of the extreme sense of guilt she feels. The story unfolds from there, mixing the past with the present in a way only Morrison can perfect.
This novel is in itself haunting and deeply disturbing, but it is also one of the best stories ever written. An absolute must-read, Morrison never fails to match her artistry with profound stories that alter the way we think about the world and ourselves.