Book Reviews of Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God
Their Eyes Were Watching God
Author: Zora Neale Hurston
ISBN-13: 9780060931414
ISBN-10: 0060931418
Pages: 240
Rating:
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 454

3.8 stars, based on 454 ratings
Publisher: Perennial
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

62 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

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Helpful Score: 7
Your heart will ache for Janie as she struggles through life and husband after husband and tragedy after tragedy. As a woman, I felt for her, wanted to reach through the pages and help her out, pull her to me and hug her. You'll feel the same way when you read it - Hurston makes sure of it. Excellent, *real* writing.
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Helpful Score: 5
This book is one of the very best books that I have ever read. I first read it in high school. I still pick it up again every now and then just to read my favorite parts. If you saw the movie and didn't read the book - READ THE BOOK! The movie did not do this book justice at all. Hurston's writing is so poetic, so symbolic . . . A truly careful reader will savor every word of this wonderful masterpiece.
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Helpful Score: 5
This is one of my all-time life favorites. It is very beautifully, and descriptively, written. I have written notes in the margins and underlined wonderful passages and shared them with my best friend, who did the same in my book when SHE read it -- This is a must read!

Don't judge this book by the movie. It did NOT do this book justice. It is more the WRITING that is wonderful rather than the story in itself, although the story is good. For example, something that sticks in my mind is when she described the passing of the year as something like this: It was a green time, then an orange time, and a white time and then a green time again.... written much more beautifully than I wrote it, but I remember that the words were so creative and descriptive. You could smell the scent of the dirt roads, and hear the hurricane's winds. Read it!
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Helpful Score: 5
Powerful prose from a fantastic writer. I never bothered to see the movie because her descriptions created a vivid painting in my mind that no director could recreate. Historically, it's an important book, as well as a wonderful read.
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Helpful Score: 3
I loved this book! It was written several decades ago but the author's voice is contemporary and very sensual. I could almost smell the flowers, feel the sunshine, etc. I'd like to read others by her.
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Helpful Score: 3
I don't know why PBS is calling this a teen novel. This is fine American literature. This novel was written in the 30s and "rediscovered" by Alice Walker years later. It was Walker's dedication that helped get this novel re-printed and added to the curriculum of many English programs. Don't miss this outstanding novel.
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Helpful Score: 1
good story - basis for Oprah Winfrey Tv movie enjoyed it and it moves quickly -great look at culture in the South
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Helpful Score: 1
One of the best books I have read; I have gotten a hold of this books some years ago; I believe it was someone else's, and I got to the point where she was about to marry the first husband, and for years, I had to find out what happened to this woman, and somehow, I got my hands on a copy of the book and read it through; You cannot help but want the book for yourself; It's a bit hard due to the dialect, but you can relate to Janie's struggle to be herself; I watched the movie and enjoyed it; And had to put a review here for this book; HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Helpful Score: 1
A wonderful stoey with heartwarming natural wisdoms. Loved this book!
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Helpful Score: 1
I love this book! I have read it several times over the past 15 years -- I keep coming back to it. The characters are compelling -- you begin to care about Janie and what happens to her very early on. Even my Dad couldn't put it down, and he is not a reader! He picked it up on a weekend visit, and I had to send it home with him!
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Helpful Score: 1
Hurston was perhaps the first female to write fiction about Black women in the South - this one set in the 1930s. She's been compared to Faulkner and Hemingway, with good cause.

If you only read one classic of Black literature, choose this one!
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This is one of my all-time favorite reads. I don't think I can say much more than that.
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I thought this was a wonderful novel. It was full of joy, humor, sorrow, and all the emotions in between. I really enjoyed Hurston's writing and her use of African-American dialect. This reminded me a lot of Mark Twain's writing. She alternated the conversational dialect with eloquent prose to describe the events in the novel - a really great piece of literature! When this novel was first published in 1937, it received a lot of critism especially from Richard Wright (another African-American writer) who "excoriated Their Eyes as a novel that did for literature what the minstrel shows did for the theater, that is, make white folks laugh... The novel exploited those quaint aspects of Negro life that satisfied the tastes of a white audience..." However, this novel has come to be proclaimed as one of the finest black novels of all time. It is studied today in many college literature courses.

I also saw the TV adaptation of this novel starring Halle Berry when it came out a few years ago. I don't remember much of the details but do remember enjoying it.
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it took me a little while to really get into it, but buy the time janie finished her story, i was really touched by the book. it really is one of those that anyone really should read.

beautifully written--i felt i could see everything that janie was describing as she told her story. i loved it!!
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I tried very hard, but couldn't get into this book. I'm sure it's wonderful, but it's one of those books you have to sit down with and make an effort to read and I guess I'm not in the mood to make that effort.
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Originally published in 1937 at the height of the Depression, the story of Janie Crawford is a powerful look at a young black girl coming into maturity and finally fulfillment. The every day struggles to survive are vivid. It is difficult to read due to the author's use of the black vernacular if you are not familiar with it. Words that are now banned by our society are used freely, i.e. the "N" word. It has been stated that this is "a bold feminist novel, the first to be explicitly so in the Afro-American tradition." There are studies of this author's works on the college level, so it has been brought back into print. Very powerful and worth the read! D.
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Written in 1937 this novel has a turbulent history. Simultaneously praised and panned it finally achieved its potential in 1978 and has been on many must read lists ever since. It is a story of a womans struggle for love and survival in the Deep South of the early 20th century. All the dialog is in the negro vernacular of the day and takes some getting used to. (Fortunately I had some practice reading the original Uncle Remus tales.)
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Beautifully written story about early 20th century African-American feminist.
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I learned about Hurston from a PBS documentary and was curious to read one of her novels. This was my first and I loved the story. Hurston's use of dialect can be difficult to read at times, but the passion and life of Janie just grabs you and pulls you in. Janie is a woman on a quest for love, laughter, and her own life. It's a short read, but one that is memorable and unique. Hurston has a way of writing that is simple, yet eloquent. I hope you enjoy the book as I did.
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Sloshing through the dialect is painful. There is a great story in there somewhere, but reading and re-reading every sentence of conversation a minimum of three times to try to understand what the characters are saying to one another just isn't my idea of fun. I may give this book another shot on audio book, but I can't stand to read another word of it.
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One of the best books I've ever read!
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Probably one of the best love stories I've ever read. Even though it does have a southern draw on the words, it was very easy to get through, if you just sound it aloud, rather than in your head...then you understand what they're trying to say. A favorite of mine, and it's so much better than the movie, like they usually are.
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Great book, hard to put down.
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West Florida, Eatonville, Florida, and the Everglades during the early 1900s.


The slave culture of the southern U.S., though dead by the time of Janies life, has a profound effect on the book, grounding all discussion of racism and emerging most strongly in the character of Nanny. Nannys early experience as a slave shapes her mentality so that the highest honor she can imagine would be to occupy the position of a wealthy, married white woman. She imposes this goal on Janie and proceeds to ruin her granddaughters life. Thus, even Janie chafes under the continuing legacy of the slave tradition racism and a twisted mentality that white is right.

Janie spends time in both rural and urban parts of the state of Florida. Rural spaces seem to represent periods of innocence and relative happiness for Janie. She is comfortable living in nature, under the pear tree as a child and in the Everglades with Tea Cake in her final marriage. These rural settings emphasize Janies poverty and the relative decency and integrity of the lower classes, giving a sense of naturalness and righteousness to Janies innocence. The Everglades provide the necessary setting for the hurricane a force of nature, destiny, and God to interrupt Janie and Tea Cakes utopian life and bring tragedy on them.

The central urban setting, Eatonville, is a center of vice and corruption. There, chafing under her marriage to Joe, Janie loses her innocence most profoundly and discovers in herself the ability to deceive. Cities also mean walls and, appropriately, Janie stifles in claustrophobic spaces where she is confined both physically and metaphorically by Joe.


A must read!!!
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Reading this book was like a pleasant time travel through someone else's eyes: through Zora Hurston's, and her view of the world, despite the times, was so beautiful and strong, I found the book uplifting and beautiful.
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This is a 1937 classic Southern love story by Zora Neale Hutston. Written primarily in Southern Black vernacular, with an afterword.
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This book is interesting as it was written in 1937 and was one of the first books written by an African American portraying African American life. It's characters move the action and they are not victims - but capable of creating the lives they want. The written speech of the characters make it a little difficult to read, but you care about the characters and what happens to them. A strong, female lead character makes the book worthwhile.
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Very good book. I've become a total Zora fan.
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This book belongs in the same category with that of William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway of enduring American literature. This prototypical Black novel of affirmation: it is the most successful, convincing and exemplary novel of Blacklove that there is.
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"The prototypical Black novel of affirmation: it is the most successful, convincing, and exemplary novel of Blacklove that we have. Period." --June Jordan, Black World
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The language was difficult to read at first but once I got into the rhythm of the thing it was very enjoyable. This was a poetic and beautiful story.
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I didn't get very far in this book--difficulty with the dialect.
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I liked this book more than the Oprah movie made from it.
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This is a phenomenal book! I read it years ago and love it.
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Great Book
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Ah trahed tah red dis book, ah rillah did trah. But ah jes cood nawt mayn-tayn mah consen-trayshun bicos uv dah way dat de author wrote dah dialeck. It wus jes too distrak-tin'. Ah had ta red da dialog ober an ober so's ah cood unnahstan' it, an' it wus jes too confoo-sin'. It gon disrupted dah flow uv dah text. So's ah be gibbin up.
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Hurston's use of metaphor and symbolism is exquisite. Her ability to mold words into images is second to none. Even if it were not for the powerful story of Janie Crawford, the book would be an excellent work of poetic prose. Adding Janie's struggle for self-discovery just makes the novel all the more better.
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Beautifully written, to be read with the heart. I loved it.
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This book was an assignment, but I wound up really enjoying this book. Great book great characters.
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I loved this book. It's such a well written romance about a woman who lives her life as she wishes. Married three times, the last one is the love of her life. Her grandmother insisted on the first because she would have someone to take care of her once she died. Her parents had died earlier. The second marriage was a mistake but when Janie Crawford met Tea Cake she falls hard and in spite of his age marries him when he asks. Janie is much older than Tea Cake but they have a happy, happy marriage doing what they choose. Tea Cake is a warm, friendly man who has little but loves and lives life to the fullest. I think that this is the best classic I've read this year.

In addition, I enjoyed knowing how the author was discovered. That tale is as wonderful as the novel itself. For those who are afraid of classics, I would recommend this one. It helps the reader understand another time and another culture as well as enjoy story about two wonderful people.
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This is a great story of a southern black woman in the 1930's who was independent and free-spirited. This book was originally published in 1937 but had been forgotten upon the author's death. However, it was rediscovered in the 1960's - 1970's and a movie was out recently with Halle Barry playing Janie - the movie was really good!!
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The dialogue in this book is written in dialect. It's not easy to read at first but once you get the hang of it, it's poetic and will stay with you for a long time after you've put the book down.
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I read this book 20 years ago and I can still remember the characters and their struggle and the rich plot of his story. I live in Florida, but for anyone who has experienced a "terrible storm" or wondered what it is like to experience a "terrible storm," this book is a MUST read.

I did not post my copy. I am keeping it. :)
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Their Eyes Were Watching God, an American Classic, is a luminious and haunting novel about Janie Crawford, a Southern black woman in the 1930s whose journey from a free-spirited girl to a woman of independence and substance has inspired writers and readers for close to seventy years.
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Historical fiction provides insight into our culture; Their Eyes....is an important read.
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Wonderful book - very eye opening
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A Classic. AND a good read.
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First published in 1937 - Hurston's most highly acclaimed novel. A classic of black literature, it tells with haunting symphany and piercing immediacy the story of Janie Crawford's evolving selfhood through three marriages.
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Coulnd't get past the black, southern speak, writing. I Had to concentrate way toooo much on the words and what they were trying to say that I couldn't get or understand the story.
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Classis that's a must love.
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A brilliant classic.
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If you watched the movie, you must read the book - it's even better!
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Very good Book I reccomend reading it
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Beautiful writing, but I didn't really like the character. This is the story of a black woman in the Deep South during the Depression.
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This book was hard for me to get through. I have proofread and edited writings before and I could get past things being spelled wrong and grammar written poorly. Luckily my book club enjoyed it and I was able to enjoy the story.
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Not my cup of tea.
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I enjoyed this book :)
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Story of an independent and articulate black women. Janie's journey teaches her about love, life's joys and sorrows and returns her home to find peace.
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Loved It, Loved It, Loved It... If you Love "The Color Purple", you will Love This Book!!!
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Fair and long-legged, independent and articulate. Janie Crawford sets out to be her own person no mean feat for a Black woman in the 30's. Zora Neale Hurston's classic 1937 novel follows Janie from her nanny's plantation shack to Logan Killick's farm, to all-Black Eatonville-where she gathers in"the great fish net" of her life. Janie's quest for identity takes her on a journey during which she learns what love is, experiences life's joys and sorrows, and comes home to herself in peace.
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Janie Crawford sets out to be her own person-no mean feat for a black woman in the 30s.
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Forward by Mary Helen Washington; Afterword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.