Six black women’s lives shape a four-decade story, from Depression to the fervid Civil Rights movement of the 1960s into letdown of the 70s. Yet while history roars around them, May, Christine, Heed, Junior, Vida, and L are obsessed by Bill Cosey. He has a wide heart, broad shoulders and broader smile (tattered clichés, for Morrison). At his black waterfront hotel there’s fine jazz and fine loving: dresses rustle; a man humps over a slender body in the sands.
Morrison’s lush, sensual writing underlines the deeply sexual nature of six characters’ love for Cosey. A sketchy secondary theme of female bonding is undeveloped, perhaps to offer it as surprise twist in plot finale. Result: the novel’s focus reduces black women’s lives in these dramatic decades to self-destructive yearning for Mr. C., “a good bad man or a bad good man.”
An enthralling prose talent relates the trivial tale. Which makes this book all the more disappointing.