Cover image for Love
Title:
Love
Author:
Morrison, Toni.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 2003.
Physical Description:
201 pages ; 25 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780375409448
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Item Holds
Searching...
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Searching...
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Searching...
Searching...
X Adult Fiction Central Library
Searching...
Searching...
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Searching...
Searching...
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Searching...
Searching...
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Searching...
Searching...
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Searching...
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Searching...
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Searching...
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Searching...
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Searching...
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Searching...
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Searching...
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Searching...
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Searching...
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Searching...
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

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.


Author Notes

Toni Morrison was born in Lorain, Ohio on February 18, 1931. She received a B.A. in English from Howard University in 1953 and a master's degree in English from Cornell University in 1955 with her thesis on the theme of suicide in modern literature. She taught at several universities including Texas Southern University, Howard University, and Princeton University.

Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970. Her other works include Sula, Tar Baby, Jazz, Paradise, Love, A Mercy, Home, and God Help the Child. She has won several awards including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Song of Solomon in 1977, the Pulitzer Prize for Beloved in 1988, the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, the Edward MacDowell Medal for her outstanding contribution to American culture in 2016, and the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction in 2016. She also co-wrote children's books with her son, Slade Morrison, including The Big Box, The Book of Mean People, and Peeny Butter Fudge.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist 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 face 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. There were days, back in the 1940s and 1950s, when the Cosey Hotel and Resort was the place for blacks to vacation, dance, and dine. Bill Cosey, a charismatic figure greatly attractive to women, ran the resort. But now Bill is dead, and the story is, as we see, not only a paean to past good times but also a portrait of Bill Cosey's power. Unusual for blacks at the time, Bill did enjoy power, both economic and social, for as far as the boundaries of his coastal town reached--his kingdom by the sea. Now, in his absence, the women in his life jockey for their own power in the vacuum he left behind; their world now revolves around his will, scribbled many years ago on a dirty menu. The novel's section headings tell the tale of the different roles Bill played in these women's lives: friend, benefactor, lover, and husband, among others. At least in her later novels, Morrison can stand to be criticized for obscurantism, which is also the case, to a certain degree, here; in fact, readers may want to compose a chart as they read, to keep characters and their relationships to each other straight. But as a vivid painter of human emotions, Morrison is without peer, her impressions rendered in an exquisitely metaphoric but comfortably open style. --Brad Hooper Copyright 2003 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly 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 (once "the best and best-known vacation spot for colored folk on the East Coast") and captivating ladies' man. When the novel opens, the resort has long been closed, and Cosey's mansion shelters only two feuding women, his widow, Heed, and his granddaughter, Christine. Then sly Junior Viviane, fresh out of "Reform, then Prison," answers the ad Heed placed for a companion and secretary, and sets the novel's present action-which is secondary to the rich past-in motion. "Rigid vipers," Vida Gibbons calls the Cosey women; formerly employed at the Cosey resort, Vida remembers only its grandeur and the benevolence of its owner, though her husband, Sandler, knew the darker side of Vida's idol. As Heed and Christine feud ("Like friendship, hatred needed more than physical intimacy: it wanted creativity and hard work to sustain itself"), Junior of the "sci-fi eyes" vigorously seduces Vida and Sandler's teenage grandson. In lyrical flashbacks, Morrison slowly, teasingly reveals the glories and horrors of the past-Cosey's suspicious death, the provenance of his money, the vicious fight over his coffin, his disputed will. Even more carefully, she unveils the women in Cosey's life: his daughter-in-law, May, whose fear that civil rights would destroy everything they had worked for drove her to kleptomania and insanity; May's daughter, Christine, who spent hard years away from the paradise of the hotel; impoverished Heed the Night Johnson, who became Cosey's very young "wifelet"; the mysterious "sporting woman" Celestial; and L, the wise and quiet former hotel chef, whose first-person narration weaves throughout the novel, summarizing and appraising lives and hearts. 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. (Oct. 28) Forecast: Morrison's measured pace-she produces a new novel every five years or so-does much to build reader anticipation. A full slate of media appearances (Today, Charlie Rose, NPR, etc.) and an 11-city tour will further whet appetites for her latest, which will be released in a first printing of 500,000. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

When gorgeous and amoral Junior arrives in the Southern coastal town of Silk, chance brings her to a deadly crossroads. She talks herself into a job at the center of a love/hate feud between two elderly women, the remaining members of a clan who once defined Silk's African American elite. The tension involves the late Bill "Papa" Cosey and the riches he achieved during his heyday in the 1940s and 1950s as proprietor of a fabulous resort. Along the way, he obtained the intense love of many women, including granddaughter Christine, lower-class child bride Heed, and spectacular "sporting woman" Celestial. Eight compact chapters named for aspects of Cosey's character ("Benefactor," "Lover," "Guardian," and so on) present the shifting perspectives of those entranced by this charismatic, secretive man long after his death. Nobel Laureate Morrison's latest is a vividly narrated exploration of the pleasures, burdens, and distortions of obsessive devotion. Given the book's brevity, the dialog must carry the story convincingly-and, of course, Morrison is a master at this. Certainly, this book won't disappoint readers already familiar with Morrison and will serve as a good introduction for those new to her. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/03.]-Starr E. Smith, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

The day she walked the streets of Silk, a chafing wind kept the temperature low and the sun was helpless to move outdoor thermometers more than a few degrees above freezing. Tiles of ice had formed at the shoreline and, inland, the thrown-together houses on Monarch Street whined like puppies. Ice slick gleamed, then disappeared in the early evening shadow, causing the sidewalks she marched along to undermine even an agile tread, let alone one with a faint limp. She should have bent her head and closed her eyes to slits in that weather, but being a stranger, she stared wide-eyed at each house, searching for the address that matched the one in the advertisement: One Monarch Street. Finally she turned into a driveway where Sandler Gibbons stood in his garage door ripping the seam from a sack of Ice-Off. He remembers the crack of her heels on concrete as she approached; the angle of her hip as she stood there, the melon sun behind her, the garage light in her face. He remembers the pleasure of her voice when she asked for directions to the house of women he has known all his life. "You sure?" he asked when she told him the address. She took a square of paper from a jacket pocket, held it with ungloved fingers while she checked, then nodded. Sandler Gibbons scanned her legs and reckoned her knees and thighs were stinging from the cold her tiny skirt exposed them to. Then he marveled at the height of her bootheels, the cut of her short leather jacket. At first he'd thought she wore a hat, something big and fluffy to keep her ears and neck warm. Then he realized that it was hair-blown forward by the wind, distracting him from her face. She looked to him like a sweet child, fine-boned, gently raised but lost. "Cosey women," he said. "That's their place you looking for. It ain't been number one for a long time now, but you can't tell them that. Can't tell them nothing. It 1410 or 1401, probably." Now it was her turn to question his certainty. "I'm telling you," he said, suddenly irritable-the wind, he thought, tearing his eyes. "Go on up thataway. You can't miss it 'less you try to. Big as a church." She thanked him but did not turn around when he hollered at her back, "Or a jailhouse." Sandler Gibbons didn't know what made him say that. He believed his wife was on his mind. She would be off the bus by now, stepping carefully on slippery pavement until she got to their driveway. There she would be safe from falling because, with the forethought and common sense he was known for, he was prepared for freezing weather in a neighborhood that had no history of it. But the "jailhouse" comment meant he was really thinking of Romen, his grandson, who should have been home from school an hour and a half ago. Fourteen, way too tall, and getting muscled, there was a skulk about him, something furtive that made Sandler Gibbons stroke his thumb every time the boy came into view. He and Vida Gibbons had been pleased to have him, raise him, when their daughter and son-in-law enlisted. Mother in the army; father in the merchant marines. The best choice out of none when only pickup work (housecleaning in Harbor for the women, hauling road trash for the men) was left after the cannery closed. "Parents idle, children sidle," his own mother used to say. Getting regular yard work helped, but not enough to keep Romen on the dime and out of the sight line of ambitious, under-occupied police. His own boyhood had been shaped by fear of vigilantes, but dark blue uniforms had taken over posse work now. What thirty years ago was a one-sheriff, one-secretary department was now four patrol cars and eight officers with walkie-talkies to keep the peace. He was wiping salt dust from his hands when the two people under his care arrived at the same time, one hollering, "Hoo! Am I glad you did this! Thought I'd break my neck." The other saying, "What you mean, Gran? I had your arm all the way from the bus." "Course you did, baby." Vida Gibbons smiled, hoping to derail any criticism her husband might be gathering against her grandson. At dinner, the scalloped potatoes having warmed his mood, Sandler picked up the gossip he'd begun while the three of them were setting the table. "What did you say she wanted?" Vida asked, frowning. The ham slices had toughened with reheating. "Looking for those Cosey women, I reckon. That was the address she had. The old address, I mean. When wasn't nobody out here but them." "That was written on her paper?" She poured a little raisin sauce over her meat. "I didn't look at it, woman. I just saw her check it. Little scrap of something looked like it came from a newspaper." "You were concentrating on her legs, I guess. Lot of information there." Romen covered his mouth and closed his eyes. "Vida, don't belittle me in front of the boy." "Well, the first thing you told me was about her skirt. I'm just following your list of priorities." "I said it was short, that's all." "How short?" Vida winked at Romen. "They wear them up to here, Gran." Romen's hand disappeared under the table. "Up to where?" Vida leaned sideways. "Will you two quit? I'm trying to tell you something." "You think she's a niece, maybe?" asked Vida. "Could be. Didn't look like one, though. Except for size, looked more like Christine's people." Sandler motioned for the jar of jalapeños, "Christine don't have any people left." "Maybe she had a daughter you don't know about." Romen just wanted to be in the conversation, but as usual, they looked at him as if his fly was open. "Watch your mouth," said his grandfather. "I'm just talking, Gramp. How would I know?" "You wouldn't, so don't butt in." "Stch." "You sucking your teeth at me?" "Sandler, lighten up. Can't you leave him alone for a minute?" Vida asked. Sandler opened his mouth to defend his position, but decided to bite the tip off the pepper instead. "Anyway, the less I hear about those Cosey girls, the better I like it," said Vida. "Girls?" Romen made a face. "Well, that's how I think of them. Hincty, snotty girls with as much cause to look down on people as a pot looks down on a skillet." "They're cool with me," said Romen. "The skinny one, anyway." Vida glared at him. "Don't you believe it. She pays you; that's all you need from either one." Romen swallowed. Now she was on his back. "Why you all make me work there if they that bad?" "Make you?" Sandler scratched a thumb. "Well, you know, send me over there." "Drown this boy, Vida. He don't know a favor from a fart." "We sent you because you need some kind of job, Romen. You've been here four months and it's time you took on some of the weight." Romen tried to get the conversation back to his employers' weaknesses and away from his own. "Miss Christine always gives me something good to eat." "I don't want you eating off her stove." "Vida." "I don't." "That's just rumor." "A rumor with mighty big feet. And I don't trust that other one either. I know what she's capable of." "Vida." "You forgot?" Vida's eyebrows lifted in surprise. "Nobody knows for sure." "Knows what?" asked Romen. "Some old mess," said his grandfather. Vida stood and moved to the refrigerator. "Somebody killed him as sure as I'm sitting here. Wasn't a thing wrong with that man." Dessert was canned pineapple in sherbet glasses. Vida set one at each place. Sandler, unimpressed, leaned back. Vida caught his look but decided to let it lie. She worked; he was on a security guard's hilarious pension. And although he kept the house just fine, she was expected to come home and cook a perfect meal every day. "What man?" Romen asked. "Bill Cosey," replied Sandler. "Used to own a hotel and a lot of other property, including the ground under this house." Vida shook her head. "I saw him the day he died. Hale at breakfast; dead at lunch." "He had a lot to answer for, Vida." "Somebody answered for him: 'No lunch.' " "You forgive that old reprobate anything." "He paid us good money, Sandler, and taught us, too. Things I never would have known about if I'd kept on living over a swamp in a stilt house. You know what my mother's hands looked like. Because of Bill Cosey, none of us had to keep doing that kind of work." "It wasn't that bad. I miss it sometimes." "Miss what? Slop jars? Snakes?" "The trees." "Oh, shoot." Vida tossed her spoon into the sherbet glass hard enough to get the clink she wanted. "Remember the summer storms?" Sandler ignored her. "The air just before-" "Get up, Romen." Vida tapped the boy's shoulder. "Help me with the dishes." "I ain't finished, Gran." "Yes you are. Up." Romen, forcing air through his lips, pushed back his chair and unfolded himself. He tried to exchange looks with his grandfather, but the old man's eyes were inward. "Never seen moonlight like that anywhere else." Sandler's voice was low. "Make you want to-" He collected himself. "I'm not saying I would move back." "I sure hope not." Vida scraped the plates loudly. "You'd need gills." "Mrs. Cosey said it was a paradise." Romen reached for a cube of pineapple with his fingers. Vida slapped his hand. "It was a plantation. And Bill Cosey took us off of it." "The ones he wanted." Sandler spoke to his shoulder. "I heard that. What's that supposed to mean?" "Nothing, Vida. Like you said, the man was a saint." "There's no arguing with you." Romen dribbled liquid soap into hot water. His hands felt good sloshing in it, though it stung the bruises on his knuckles. His side hurt more while he stood at the sink, but he felt better listening to his grandparents fussing about the olden days. Less afraid. Excerpted from Love by Toni Morrison All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

The day she walked the streets of Silk, a chafing wind kept the temperature low and the sun was helpless to move outdoor thermometers more than a few degrees above freezing. Tiles of ice had formed at the shoreline and, inland, the thrown-together houses on Monarch Street whined like puppies. Ice slick gleamed, then disappeared in the early evening shadow, causing the sidewalks she marched along to undermine even an agile tread, let alone one with a faint limp. She should have bent her head and closed her eyes to slits in that weather, but being a stranger, she stared wide-eyed at each house, searching for the address that matched the one in the advertisement: One Monarch Street. Finally she turned into a driveway where Sandler Gibbons stood in his garage door ripping the seam from a sack of Ice-Off. He remembers the crack of her heels on concrete as she approached; the angle of her hip as she stood there, the melon sun behind her, the garage light in her face. He remembers the pleasure of her voice when she asked for directions to the house of women he has known all his life.
"You sure?" he asked when she told him the address.
She took a square of paper from a jacket pocket, held it with ungloved fingers while she checked, then nodded.
Sandler Gibbons scanned her legs and reckoned her knees and thighs were stinging from the cold her tiny skirt exposed them to. Then he marveled at the height of her bootheels, the cut of her short leather jacket. At first he'd thought she wore a hat, something big and fluffy to keep her ears and neck warm. Then he realized that it was hair-blown forward by the wind, distracting him from her face. She looked to him like a sweet child, fine-boned, gently raised but lost.
"Cosey women," he said. "That's their place you looking for. It ain't been number one for a long time now, but you can't tell them that. Can't tell them nothing. It 1410 or 1401, probably."
Now it was her turn to question his certainty.
"I'm telling you," he said, suddenly irritable-the wind, he thought, tearing his eyes. "Go on up thataway. You can't miss it 'less you try to. Big as a church."
She thanked him but did not turn around when he hollered at her back, "Or a jailhouse."
Sandler Gibbons didn't know what made him say that. He believed his wife was on his mind. She would be off the bus by now, stepping carefully on slippery pavement until she got to their driveway. There she would be safe from falling because, with the forethought and common sense he was known for, he was prepared for freezing weather in a neighborhood that had no history of it. But the "jailhouse" comment meant he was really thinking of Romen, his grandson, who should have been home from school an hour and a half ago. Fourteen, way too tall, and getting muscled, there was a skulk about him, something furtive that made Sandler Gibbons stroke his thumb every time the boy came into view. He and Vida Gibbons had been pleased to have him, raise him, when their daughter and son-in-law enlisted. Mother in the army; father in the merchant marines. The best choice out of none when only pickup work (housecleaning in Harbor for the women, hauling road trash for the men) was left after the cannery closed. "Parents idle, children sidle," his own mother used to say. Getting regular yard work helped, but not enough to keep Romen on the dime and out of the sight line of ambitious, under-occupied police. His own boyhood had been shaped by fear of vigilantes, but dark blue uniforms had taken over posse work now. What thirty years ago was a one-sheriff, one-secretary department was now four patrol cars and eight officers with walkie-talkies to keep the peace.
He was wiping salt dust from his hands when the two people under his care arrived at the same time, one hollering, "Hoo! Am I glad you did this! Thought I'd break my neck." The other saying, "What you mean, Gran? I had your arm all the way from the bus."
"Course you did, baby." Vida Gibbons smiled, hoping to derail any criticism her husband might be gathering against her grandson.
At dinner, the scalloped potatoes having warmed his mood, Sandler picked up the gossip he'd begun while the three of them were setting the table.
"What did you say she wanted?" Vida asked, frowning. The ham slices had toughened with reheating.
"Looking for those Cosey women, I reckon. That was the address she had. The old address, I mean. When wasn't nobody out here but them."
"That was written on her paper?" She poured a little raisin sauce over her meat.
"I didn't look at it, woman. I just saw her check it. Little scrap of something looked like it came from a newspaper."
"You were concentrating on her legs, I guess. Lot of information there."
Romen covered his mouth and closed his eyes.
"Vida, don't belittle me in front of the boy."
"Well, the first thing you told me was about her skirt. I'm just following your list of priorities."
"I said it was short, that's all."
"How short?" Vida winked at Romen.
"They wear them up to here, Gran." Romen's hand disappeared under the table.
"Up to where?" Vida leaned sideways.
"Will you two quit? I'm trying to tell you something."
"You think she's a niece, maybe?" asked Vida.
"Could be. Didn't look like one, though. Except for size, looked more like Christine's people." Sandler motioned for the jar of jalapeños,
"Christine don't have any people left."
"Maybe she had a daughter you don't know about." Romen just wanted to be in the conversation, but as usual, they looked at him as if his fly was open.
"Watch your mouth," said his grandfather.
"I'm just talking, Gramp. How would I know?"
"You wouldn't, so don't butt in."
"Stch."
"You sucking your teeth at me?"
"Sandler, lighten up. Can't you leave him alone for a minute?" Vida asked.
Sandler opened his mouth to defend his position, but decided to bite the tip off the pepper instead.
"Anyway, the less I hear about those Cosey girls, the better I like it," said Vida.
"Girls?" Romen made a face.
"Well, that's how I think of them. Hincty, snotty girls with as much cause to look down on people as a pot looks down on a skillet."
"They're cool with me," said Romen. "The skinny one, anyway."
Vida glared at him. "Don't you believe it. She pays you; that's all you need from either one."
Romen swallowed. Now she was on his back. "Why you all make me work there if they that bad?"
"Make you?" Sandler scratched a thumb.
"Well, you know, send me over there."
"Drown this boy, Vida. He don't know a favor from a fart."
"We sent you because you need some kind of job, Romen. You've been here four months and it's time you took on some of the weight."
Romen tried to get the conversation back to his employers' weaknesses and away from his own. "Miss Christine always gives me something good to eat."
"I don't want you eating off her stove."
"Vida."
"I don't."
"That's just rumor."
"A rumor with mighty big feet. And I don't trust that other one either. I know what she's capable of."
"Vida."
"You forgot?" Vida's eyebrows lifted in surprise.
"Nobody knows for sure."
"Knows what?" asked Romen.
"Some old mess," said his grandfather.
Vida stood and moved to the refrigerator. "Somebody killed him as sure as I'm sitting here. Wasn't a thing wrong with that man." Dessert was canned pineapple in sherbet glasses. Vida set one at each place. Sandler, unimpressed, leaned back. Vida caught his look but decided to let it lie. She worked; he was on a security guard's hilarious pension. And although he kept the house just fine, she was expected to come home and cook a perfect meal every day.
"What man?" Romen asked.
"Bill Cosey," replied Sandler. "Used to own a hotel and a lot of other property, including the ground under this house."
Vida shook her head. "I saw him the day he died. Hale at breakfast; dead at lunch."
"He had a lot to answer for, Vida."
"Somebody answered for him: 'No lunch.' "
"You forgive that old reprobate anything."
"He paid us good money, Sandler, and taught us, too. Things I never would have known about if I'd kept on living over a swamp in a stilt house. You know what my mother's hands looked like. Because of Bill Cosey, none of us had to keep doing that kind of work."
"It wasn't that bad. I miss it sometimes."
"Miss what? Slop jars? Snakes?"
"The trees."
"Oh, shoot." Vida tossed her spoon into the sherbet glass hard enough to get the clink she wanted.
"Remember the summer storms?" Sandler ignored her. "The air just before-"
"Get up, Romen." Vida tapped the boy's shoulder. "Help me with the dishes."
"I ain't finished, Gran."
"Yes you are. Up."
Romen, forcing air through his lips, pushed back his chair and unfolded himself. He tried to exchange looks with his grandfather, but the old man's eyes were inward.
"Never seen moonlight like that anywhere else." Sandler's voice was low. "Make you want to-" He collected himself. "I'm not saying I would move back."
"I sure hope not." Vida scraped the plates loudly. "You'd need gills."
"Mrs. Cosey said it was a paradise." Romen reached for a cube of pineapple with his fingers.
Vida slapped his hand. "It was a plantation. And Bill Cosey took us off of it."
"The ones he wanted." Sandler spoke to his shoulder.
"I heard that. What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing, Vida. Like you said, the man was a saint."
"There's no arguing with you."
Romen dribbled liquid soap into hot water. His hands felt good sloshing in it, though it stung the bruises on his knuckles. His side hurt more while he stood at the sink, but he felt better listening to his grandparents fussing about the olden days. Less afraid.
From the Hardcover edition.