“Found it a bit underwhelming given its repute, but in and of itself, a brilliant feat of folk realism from one of my literary sheroes”Summertime wrote this review 4 days ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“can't do it”Jill Holup wrote this review 6 days ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Amazing book!!!”PyroFairy728 wrote this review 9 days ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Black woman ahead of her time.”Janet Chestnut wrote this review 11 days ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Janie is an illegitimate child born from rape who never knew either of her parents. She was raised by her grandmother and finds herself in a series of relationships, ultimately with the love of her life. The book is wonderful and the story is so moving with a bittersweet ending. I am still rolling it around days after finishing it. The first two paragraphs hooked me immediately and I hated to put this one down. ”nuclearblonde wrote this review 2 weeks ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“1080L”Lacey Renee wrote this review Monday, November 4, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“One of the best stories of a woman learning who she is through relationships and experiences.”Leni Matthews wrote this review Wednesday, October 23, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I took a while to settle into this book, but once I was into it, Janey was my darling and I loved reading her triumphs and her tragedies. This was so moving and deeply affecting. I want everyone to read it.”Mister D wrote this review Tuesday, September 24, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I remember adoring this book the first time I read it. So much so, that when I was sharing with a new-found friend the books I found most amazing, this one sprang immediately to mind. She didn't care for it though, and on reread though I still love it, I think I can understand why this wouldn't appeal to everyone. First of all, the dialogue is written in American Black dialect, complete with elisions and phonetic spellings. It makes it a struggle to read, even tedious at times trying to wrest meaning from the words. Not as difficult as unmodernized Chaucer perhaps, but harder to parse I think than Shakespeare. Harder than Alice Walker's The Color Purple or Toni Morrison's Beloved, both of which I read recently and use black dialect.
Yet like Chaucer or Shakespeare, there's true poetry in the prose. Right in the second chapter was my favorite passage, among the most extraordinary I've read in literature, where through describing a blossoming pear tree under which Janie Crawford shares her first kiss, we watch a girl come of age: She saw a dust bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was a marriage!
There are lyrical passages that sing throughout the novel, striking lines that have the sparkling resonance of the best of literature. So yes, I think taking the time to see through the sometimes difficulties of reading this beyond rewarding. The story surrounds Janie Crawford, her road to self-awareness and love. Given clues in the text, I'd say the story spans from about 1899 when Janie would be sixteen to around 1928 or so. (The book describes what seems to be the Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928.)
Janie doesn't really find love until she's about forty, after two husbands, with a man 15 years younger than she is, Tea Cake. (That love of a middle-aged woman with a much younger man was something that in itself I found refreshing.) Compared to her second husband, Joe Stark, who was the mayor of a black-run Florida town and entrepreneur, Tea Cake is poor, even feckless. He's no paragon, and Tea Cake and Janie's relationship with him will, I think, be the other major issue some may have with the book. At one point Tea Cake takes 200 dollars of her money off Janie without telling her and spends it foolishly, and another time to show she belongs to him, he slaps her around. Yet Thurston does show his appeal, why Janie flourishes and grows with him, especially after her loveless marriages with repressive husbands. As she tells her friend Pheoby: He kin take most any lil thing and make summertime out of it when times is dull. Then we lives offa dat happiness he made till some mo' happiness come along. He makes her laugh. He brings back to her the joy she felt under that blossoming pear tree when she was young and dreams were still possible. And if there's poverty and tragedy in their story, there's also no bitterness, no self-pity, but a love of life that imbues this book with light despite dark events.
So yes, this is an American classic, and rightly so.”
“There are so many hidden meanings beneath the text, and I love that! The dialect is challenging to get through, but I see why it's a classic. I enjoyed it, even if it was a required reading.
Maybe next time I won't read it all the night before it's due so I can digest it more :)”