In the winter of 1926, when everybody everywhere sees nothing but good things ahead, Joe Trace, a middle-aged waiter who moonlights as a door-to-door salesman of Cleopatra beauty products, shoots his teenage lover to death. At the funeral, Joes wife, Violet, attacks the girls corpse. This story of love and obsession by Toni Morrison brings us back and forth in time, as a narrative is assembled from the emotions, hopes, fears, and deep realities of black urban life.
In the afterglow of her Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller Beloved, Morrison moves to even higher groundthe story of Joe Trace, a door-to-door salesman in his 50s, his mentally unstable wife, and his 18-year-old lover. Set in Harlem in the 20s, the story captures the rhythms of the city and the bittersweet mood of African-American life at a moment in our history we assumed we understood.