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May, Christine, Heed, Junior, Vida—even L: all women obsessed with Bill Cosey. The wealthy owner of the famous Cosey’s Hotel and Resort, he shapes their yearnings for father, husband, lover, guardian, and friend, yearnings that dominate the lives of these women long after his death. Yet while he is either the void in, or the center of, their stories, he himself is driven by secret forces—a troubled past and a spellbinding woman named Celestial.
This audacious exploration into the nature of love—its appetite, its sublime possession, its dread—is rich in characters, striking scenes, and a profound understanding of how alive the past can be.
A major addition to the canon of one of the world’s literary masters.
“She does her best writing about bad people and her new novel, “Love,” hooray, has plenty of those. . . . Like all of Morrison’s best fiction, this is a village novel. . . . Even when the setting is contemporary, Morrison’s books feel old-fashioned, set in a world where the perpetual distraction of the media hasn’t diluted people’s fascination with their neighbors, where the misadventures of J. Lo and P. Diddy don’t siphon off attention from the scandal next door. Morrison is, as always, interested in the face-off between the respectable and the not, between the clean, orderly, responsible citizens of Silk and the unchaste, shoeless ne’er—do-wells of neighborhoods like the Settlement and Up Beach.” —Laura Miller, The New York Times Book Review
“In addition to Morrison’s straightforward but richly gentle prose, the pleasure and fascination of Love lie in how effortlessly she merges the threads of her story of damaged women, leftover pals, and newcomers . . . And all the while Morrison patiently leaves clues to the central mysteries . . . There are many comic moments in the novel . . . Razor-sharp observations are hidden in [Morrison’s] softest lines . . . A beautiful, haunting work.” —Darryl Pinckney, New York Review of Books
“[In Love, Morrison’s] interest lies in the sparks thrown off by this most intense of human polarities, which gives her slender novel its considerable, coruscating power… Morrison has shredded the chronology with a kind of Faulknerian relish, crosscutting between voices, incidents and eras… A marvelous work, which enlarges our conception not only of love but of racial politics, the ubiquitous past [and] paradise.” —James Marcus, L.A. Times Book Review
“Toni Morrison has become predictable in her brilliance, in her seemingly endless repertoire and ability to dazzle us with her shiny, luminous prose and breathtaking insights . . . We have come to expect nothing less than perfection from our master storyteller. And yet, like love at first sight, [Love] has the ability to startle you out of complacency, to hurl you into a new and wonderful world . . . [Morrison uses] language as elegant as a suite at the Ritz . . . Love also abounds with an understanding of human nature that’s so sharp, some of her insights land like a spear . . . [and] it is this blend of psychological and sociological insight that is the hallmark of Morrison’s best work.” —Thrity Umrigar, Boston Globe
“Readers who know Toni Morrison’s work only from her surreal classic Beloved will be surprised by the subtlety and humor of her new novel. And those who have held off from Morrison . . . should start here with Love . . . William Faulkner and Eudora Welty would feel right welcome in [the old Cosey mansion] . . . [Morrison] is, as always, the most profound commentator alive about the effects of living under the threat of white attack, white reprisal, white humiliation. But the moral palette of this novel displays a full range of colors, providing as powerful a defense as ever against critics who clam her men are all demons, her women all victims.” —Ron Charles, Christian Science Monitor
“A music box and an echo chamber, an exquisite miniature in which mermaids sing… [Morrison] reimagines the lost history, nightmare passage, and redemptive music of her people, and rewrites our classic literature to include their expulsions and displacements, their love, work, gravity, grace, and torque. As always, she complicates our understanding of black communities that have nonwhite business to attend to and their very own power trips, scapegoats, and pariahs. As always, her naming evokes, signifies, and subverts… As always, ghosts show up, ancestors sermonize, and the blood, bone, and ligaments of the world find sensuous expression, rolling like berries on the tongue… It is as if, while some down-home raunchy song was playing in the big house, Aesop, Oedipus, and maybe King Lear were outside in the stables whispering the unspeakable about bestiality and incest taboos.” —John Leonard, Harper’s
“On a grand scale, [Love] is about the consequences of desegregation… On a small and intimate level, though, this new novel really is about this thing called love… Morrison’s agile use of the language depends not on difficult words or showy narrative devices but on meticulous choices… There are moments of startling violence and cruelty, and there are phrases that demonstrate Morrison’s pure and utter delight in language and imagery.” —Teresa Weaver, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Toni Morrison reframes the mythology of love in a dark light and comes away with a mesmerizing gem… There is new territory explored [in Love]… More than race, it is a story of class, friendship, envy, obsession and, most important, the machinations of love… A perfectly compacted and utterly efficient narrative… [Heed and Christine] are two of [Morrison’s] most memorable creations… One of Morrison’s talents as a writer is the ability to hold back just the right number of details to keep the story intriguing.” —David Hellmann, San Francisco Chronicle
“A vividly narrated exploration of the pleasures, burdens, and distortions of obsessive devotion. Morrison is a master at [creating] dialog [that carries] the story convincingly.” —Starr E. Smith, Library Journal
“A black patriarch’s [Bill Cosey] obsessive domination of the many women in his life is relentlessly scrutinized in the 1993 Novel winner’s intricately patterned eighth novel… A gorgeous deployment of enigmatic flashbacks… The novel’s climactic events deepen the enigma of Cosey…Incorporating element from earlier Morrison novels (notably Jazz, Paradise, and Sula), Love is an elegantly shaped epic of infatuation, enslavement, and liberation: a rich and heartening return to Nobel-worthy form.” —Kirkus (starred review)
“At the center of this haunting, slender eighth novel by Nobel winner Morrison is the late Bill Cosey–entrepreneur, patriarch, revered owner of the glorious Cosey Hotel and Resort. . . and captivating ladies’ man. . . . Morrison has crafted a gorgeous, stately novel whose mysteries are gradually unearthed, while Cosey, its axis, a man ‘ripped, like the rest of us, by wrath and love,’ remains deliberately in shadow, even as his family burns brightly, terribly around him.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Despite the simplicity of its title, Love is a profound novel. A Nobel laureate must feel considerable pressure to keep performing on a higher level than other writers. With her latest novel, Morrison slaps our faces with the fact that she is better than most… The book has the tone of an elegy, for it emerges as a remembrance of and yearning for past times and past people in a black seaside community… Not only a paean to past good times but also a portrait of Bill Cosey’s power… Now, in his absence, the women in his life jockey for their own power in the vacuum he left behind… 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)