|Paradise,” by the great Toni Morrison was at times quite frustrating to read… The sudden changing, narrative at times made it difficult to follow… And yet at other times the writing is so sublime and hypnotic that it left me speechless. The last fifty pages are a clinic in what it takes to be a great writer.
Steep in African-American history, mysticism, and religious beliefs, it is a novel of breathtaking scope and importance. The town of “Ruby” founded by nine black families escaping the prejudice and lack of opportunity in their previous town of Haven, is a prosperous, industrious, independent town without a police force, liquor stores, or motels. Individuals that are not one-hundred percent black and because of their lighter skin color are looked down upon… And whites are literally considered the enemy and for good reason. They are a community that takes care of its own and they frown upon the younger generation that doesn’t necessarily want to follow the rules and have a desire to move away from the “safe haven of Ruby”and see the outside world.
The first step to that outside world is a large house, about ten miles outside the town and it’s called “The Convent.” Originally owned by bootleggers, catering to the sexual and perverse desires of men and women, and then owned by a convent of Catholic nuns who are brought to the house to set up a school for the Indian children in the surrounding area and with no more money left to support the school and the nuns, it is literally left to one of the orphans, Connie, that the nuns were taking care since she was nine years old. The house becomes a place where all our welcomed, especially downtrodden black women who have been abused in every way imaginable and then some.
Eventually, there is a clash between the sterile, prosperous town of Ruby and the Convent. It is epic and sad and it exposes the darkness beneath the surface of many of the citizens of RUDY.