Book Review: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Book: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Publisher: Harper Perennial (Modern Classics)
Publication date: 2006 (Originally 1937)
Summary: A short classic novel, well ahead of its time, about love, adventure, and identity. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston flows with breathtaking moments from one stunningly-wrought setting to another following characters I won’t soon forget.
Thoughts: I was a little worried about Their Eyes Were Watching God for our diversity book club. We don’t often discuss novels. Would there be enough to say? More than enough. As it turned out, we drew one of our biggest crowds in a while and we kept talking until the library kicked us out so they could close for the evening.
Besides race, our default topic, we talked about women, history (and the need to find ways to approach history from something other than our 2014 selves — thanks, Tayé Foster Bradshaw for that insight), language and dialect, relationships, the adventure to find one’s self, and so much more.
We loved having each other as audience because it meant that we could read our favorite passages aloud. The poetic words of Their Eyes Were Watching God ache to be said and heard.
Appeal: For me, this felt like an essential American novel but it’s also a universal story. Very wide appeal.
Reviews: Their Eyes Were Watching God has been widely reviewed on book blogs. Here were a a couple that caught my attention:
Moira (Vulpes Libris) wrote about the language which was part of our discussion. We weren’t happy with the dialect in the last book we read, but liked it in this book. A big difference, for us, is that the prose between the dialogue in Their Eyes Were Watching God is so lush and erudite — the dialect doesn’t come across as a judgment on the people speaking, but simply as a statement that this is the way folks talked.
Sandy (You’ve GOTTA Read This!) encountered this book as part of a Read the Book / See the Movie challenge — she loved the book, meh on the movie. So I won’t be in a rush to see the movie version. I enjoyed her review because she lives in Central Florida where many of the events in this book take place.
Have you read this book? What did you think?
I read it an was underwhelmed. Technically, I appreciated it but I read it on my own and I have a feeling, based on what you share in your blog, that if I’d read it along with someone or in a group I might have enjoyed it much more. I never wanted to see the movie not because I didn’t like the book but because I didn’t see how it would be effectively translated to film. Some books lend themselves to such things. This one, I felt, did not.
I read this a while back and enjoyed reading it. It stands the time and I think is required reading for some High Schools.
Sounds like a book I’d enjoy so I’m adding it to my list. I wish I could read it with a group like you did.
I also live in Central Florida so I’ll have to check out Sandy’s review.
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I reread this book last year and loved it more the second time around. There’s so much to discuss and think about with this novel. Glad you enjoyed it.
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I loved this book.
The tale of how Janie found her voice in a society didn’t want
to hear what she had to say.
It is a story of how a woman found independence and power in a culture that
denied women the privilege of self determination.
It is a document that shows the legacy of division, a community divided turns on itself