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May, Christine, Heed, Junior, Vida - even L who cooks for them and sees everything - all are women obsessed by Bill Cosey. The wealthy owner of the famous Cosey Hotel and Resort (a glamorous black-only beachside resort that flourished in the post-war years), he's powerful charismatic, monstrous, shadowy, and he shapes the yearnings that dominate the lives of these women long after his death. But even Cosey himself is at the mercy of a troubled past and a spellbinding woman, 'a sporting woman', named Celestial. Christine is his granddaughter, Heed her pretty best friend, an uneducated Up Beach girl from the wrong side of the tracks. The two girls are inseparable until the moment when Cosey picks out Heed, aged only 11, and marries her ('One day we built castles on the beach; the next he sat her in his lap-One day we played jacks; the nest she was fucking my grandfather-. One day this house was mine; next day she owned it.'). Forty years on, the hotel is boarded up and the resort half under water, but Christine and Heed, old women now, bound together by a lifetime of jealousy and pain, are still the Cosey girls, 'as different as honey and soot', when Junior comes walking down the street and into their lives, in her short skirts and high boots and with a look in her eye- This audacious vision from a master storyteller of the nature of love - its appetite, its sublime possession, its dread - is shocking and moving in its profound understanding of love's ambivalence, and of how alive the past can be. It peels back the layers to reflect the different facets of love, shifting from desire through sex, lust, obsession, yearning, and ultimately full circle to the power of a girl's first love that marks her forever. And the only one who sees the whole picture is L (whose full name is revealed only near the end - a word mentioned only once in the whole of this novel), who has more to do with the outcome than anyone knows.
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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 seaside community. One clear truth here, told time and again, is how folks love and hate each other and the myriad ways it's manifested; these versions of humanity are seen in almost every line. Monsters and ghosts creep into young girls' dreams and around corners and then return to staid ladies' lives as they age and remember friendships and cold battles. Men and women--Heed, Romen, Junior, Christine, Celestial, and the rest of Morrison's cast--cry and sing out their weaknesses and strengths in rotating perspectives. Sandler, a Cosey employee, is a brilliant agent of Morrison's descriptions of human behavior, "Then, in a sudden shift of subject that children and heavy drinkers enjoy, 'My son, Billy was about your age. When he died, I mean.'" And Romen is allowed to play hero by saving a young girl from a brutal gang rape, while at the same time, he battles disgust like no superhuman would be caught dead feeling.
Though slim in pages, Morrison constructs Love with a precision and elegance that shows her characters' flaws and fears with brutal accuracy. Love may be less complex than others in the grand Morrison oeuvre, but not because Morrison performs literary hand-holding. Readers will experience in this smooth, sharp-eyed gem another instance of the Toni Morrison craftsmanship: she enters your mind, hangs a tale or two there, and leaves just as quietly as she came. --E. Brooke GilbertFrom the Back Cover:
“Love seduces with Toni Morrison’s signature lush prose and colorfully complex, textured scenes of human longing, scheming, suffering, and loss.”
-Lisa Shea, Elle
“It’s a dense, dark star of a novel, seemingly eccentric, secretly shapely, ... and with Morrison writing at the top of her game.”
-David Gates, Newsweek
“Haunting . . . In lyrical flashbacks, Morrison slowly, teasingly reveals the glories and horrors of the past . . . Morrison has crafted a gorgeous, stately novel.”
“Love is a profound novel. As a vivid painter of human emotions, Morrison is without peer, her impressions rendered in an exquisitely metaphoric but comfortably open style.”
-Brad Hooper, Booklist (starred and boxed review)
“A gorgeous deployment of enigmatic flashbacks...Love is an elegantly shaped epic of infatuation, enslavement, and liberation: a rich and heartening return to Nobel-worthy form.”
-Kirkus (starred review)
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Book Description Chatto & Windus, 2003. Hardcover. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0701175109