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Love
ISBN: 0375409440

By Toni Morrison
Review by: Natasha Whitton

5/15/04

When Toni Morrison published Paradise in 1999, she concluded a trilogy of books about Love that had begun with Jazz and continued with Beloved. Each novel dealt with a different type of Love and its effects on the main characters. With her latest novel, Morrison appears to continue this theme and entitled the slim volume simply Love.

At the center of Love is Bill Cosey, a black entrepreneur who opened an ocean-side hotel that was known up and down the East Coast. Although Cosey has died years before the novel begins, his influence on the women who serve as narrators remains indelible, even on one who did not know him in life and only sees him in a portrait. From his child bride, his granddaughter, his cook, his daughter-in-law, his maid – we learn of Cosey’s amazing rise in business and his eventual fall and its after-effects, which are still sending rippling shocks through this small community of women.

The story unfolds slowly from the women and their narration of events, past and present. Morrison examines the various relationships that Cosey established and the type of love that each demonstrates. One of the strongest bonds in the novel is the childhood friendship of Heed and May, Cosey’s granddaughter. Although she was from a very poor family, Heed grew up on the beach alongside May, and they often played together at the hotel. When Heed is eleven, however, she catches the eye of Cosey who has been widowed and lost his only son. Deciding to marry her, Cosey not only removes her from her family, but breaks her friendship with his granddaughter who cannot bear the thought of what the pre-pubescent Heed must be doing with her grandfather behind the closed doors of their bedroom. In the present, years after Cosey’s death, Heed and May remain locked in a struggle over their inheritance.

As with most Morrison novels, the interweaving narrative is second to the beautifully constructed prose of each scene. The power of Love is its language which Morrison has honed to a piercing point. She brings the same power and authority to a description of an evening meal as she does to an erotic encounter between a girl and a ghost. Love is a very enjoyable novel for avid readers of Morrison because they will again experience the honey-sweet warming of her prose; readers who have been daunted by Morrison in the past, however, should also enjoy this latest novel because of the simplicity of its design and the accessibility of its characters.

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