November 03, 2003 12:00 PM

by Toni Morrison



Morrison could just as well have called her slender eighth novel Hurt. This melancholy family drama is not only about the ties that bind but also about how those very ties can chafe and cut. Bill Cosey is a father, a husband and the founder of Cosey’s Hotel and Resort, the “best-known vacation spot for colored folk on the East Coast.” (Its exact location is never mentioned.) Most of the book is set in the 1990s, years Love doesn’t come easy in the Nobel laureate’s newest novel. After Cosey’s death and the resort’s closing, and the story tracks the battle between Cosey’s widow, Heed, and his granddaughter Christine for control of the family fortune. Using flashbacks, multiple narrators and lyrical imagery. Morrison recalls Cosey’s as a vibrant place where the long-lost civility of a World War II-era culture reigned, and where sand piled on porches looked “whiter than the beach, and smoother, like twice-sifted flour.” Rendered just as vividly are the searing betrayals that propel Morrison’s characters from youthful certainties to raw revelations. In Love, Morrison probes the darker side of a good feeling and thinks tough thoughts about self-reliance, responsibility and survival.


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