Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

84%

30 Critic Reviews

He takes her to a mushroom town, buys a lot, puts up a store and makes the town sit up and take notice. His success goes to his head -- their life becomes a mockery of her high hopes. And after his death, she goes off with a youth who brings her happiness and tragedy. A poignant story, told with almost rhythmic beauty.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

“A deeply soulful novel that comprehends love and cruelty, and separates the big people from the small of heart, without ever losing sympathy for those unfortunates who don’t know how to live properly.” —Zadie Smith

One of the most important and enduring books of the twentieth century, Their Eyes Were Watching God brings to life a Southern love story with the wit and pathos found only in the writing of Zora Neale Hurston. Out of print for almost thirty years—due largely to initial audiences’ rejection of its strong black female protagonist—Hurston’s classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature.

 

About Zora Neale Hurston

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Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) was a novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist whose fictional and factual accounts of black heritage remain unparalleled. Her many books include Dust Tracks on a Road; Their Eyes Were Watching God; Jonah's Gourd Vine; Moses, Man of the Mountain; Mules and Men; and Every Tongue Got to Confess.
 
Published March 17, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 266 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Children's Books, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography, Religion & Spirituality, Political & Social Sciences, History, Biographies & Memoirs, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Their Eyes Were Watching God
All: 30 | Positive: 26 | Negative: 4

Kirkus

Excellent
on Sep 26 2011

He takes her to a mushroom town, buys a lot, puts up a store and makes the town sit up and take notice. His success goes to his head -- their life becomes a mockery of her high hopes. And after his death, she goes off with a youth who brings her happiness and tragedy. A poignant story, told with almost rhythmic beauty.

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Daily Kos

Excellent
Reviewed by Brecht on Jan 17 2014

I can feel power and magic here, but this novel doesn't fit inside the boxes and labels that clutter my understanding. It sings to me like a Classic American Novel, but it isn't built out of the shapes I'm used to reading.

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Teen Ink

Below average
Reviewed by twnguy on Jan 28 2014

If it were not for Hurston’s thinly veiled feminist conjecture, "Their Eyes Were Watching God" would truly deserve exaltation as a masterwork...If only she had applied her strong techniques of accurate subtlety to all of her arguments, "Their Eyes Were Watching God" would be a much more refined, effective, and trustworthy work.

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Teen Ink

Above average
Reviewed by Taylor_Savant on Jan 28 2014

Their Eyes Were Watching God led me on a meaningful journey through the adult life of Janie Crawford, which kept me pondering long after I had finished the last page.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by Emma B. on Jan 28 2014

Their Eyes Were Watching God remains a worldly novel today because it identifies all women in search for self-reliance and independence.

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Things Mean a Lot

Good
Reviewed by Ana S on Aug 17 2009

Their Eyes Were Watching God is many things, and one of them is a very readable piece of good old storytelling. Janie and Teacake’s life at the Everglades in particular had me riveted – the community life, their work in the fields, the description of the hurricane. I read the last fifty pages or so in a single sitting.

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Book Journey

Excellent
Reviewed by Sheila on May 19 2011

The book impressed me. It is a deep love story that I wasn’t anticipating, and maybe that made me appreciate it all the more. Janie and Tea Cake make some of the modern-day literary couples look dull in comparison.

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Lit Lovers

Above average
on Jan 28 2014

Hurston's prose, poetic at the onset, sometimes falls flat—but only sometimes. Overall, her novel is compelling and her heroine endearing.

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Rebecca Reads

Good
Reviewed by Rebecca Reid on Mar 17 2011

As an expert in folklore, Ms Hurston was uniquely qualified to capture the African-American traditions and unique dialect in Their Eyes Were Watching God. But to me, the novel transcends race and completely captures what it means to be human in an oppressive world.

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She Treads Softly Blog

Excellent
Reviewed by Lori L on Mar 09 2009

I am highly recommending Their Eyes Were Watching God, if only for the historical perspective of a Black woman living her life in the thirties.

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Sarah Reads Too Much

Good
Reviewed by Sarah Reads Too Much on May 20 2013

This dialogue is surrounded by beautifully written prose... I read this slowly as well because I just enjoyed it so much!

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Vulpus Libris

Excellent
on Jan 15 2015

I’m not remotely qualified to speak to the novel’s credentials as a seminal work of African-American literature … but I can tell you that, academic labels aside, Their Eyes works beautifully as a love story, a shared journey and a sensitive and wryly humorous exploration of the human need to belong, be wanted and be loved.

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Shelf Love

Good
Reviewed by Jenny on Dec 23 2011

I admit that at first, it’s hard to read, like reading a language you’re a bit rusty in. You can’t disappear invisibly into the novel in the same way you usually can. I happen to think that’s a good thing: the preservation of a world and a culture the way it was. Both the dialogue and the narration are full of wisdom, humor, and insight.

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Book Addiction

Below average
on Jun 17 2008

I’m glad I read Their Eyes Were Watching God, because it is one of those timeless classics that I always feel like I SHOULD read, but I still wouldn’t really recommend it. I think it just didn’t click with me in any sort of significant way.

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The Introverted Reader

Good
Reviewed by Introverted Jen on Sep 28 2011

Take some time to get acquainted with this book and you will meet a character whom you won't soon forget. Highly recommended.

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Between The Covers

Good
Reviewed by Heather on May 23 2011

I think Their Eyes Were Watching God is a fantastic novel. The prose is beautiful and I love that the characters speak in their authentic dialect; to me, that is a large part of what makes the prose so beautiful.

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You've GOTTA Read This

Excellent
Reviewed by Sandy on Apr 20 2010

I found the story compelling in the hands of Hurston. Florida's fascinating black history came to life - history of the area in which I live to which I was clueless.

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Chrisbookarama

Good
Reviewed by Chris bookarama on Feb 21 2010

It's the kind of writing you can sink right down into. Hurston creates an atmosphere where you feel that Florida is the only place in the world, that nowhere else exists. You see the pear tree, hear the bees, experience the hurricane.

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Laura's Reviews

Excellent
Reviewed by Laura on Feb 11 2010

I had a hard time at first with the Southern African American dialect of the characters, but once I got used to it, it was easier to read the novel. I love how this novel is an important African American novel, but also an important feminist novel.

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Reading World

Above average
Reviewed by Susan on May 24 2014

The middle bit of the book did drag a bit. Some of the conversations on the porch that Janie found so amusing, I found a bit tedious...This is a wonderful story of love and of resilience.

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Literary Musings

Good
Reviewed by B on Sep 28 2010

Maybe I'm just being a baby but I would rather read Standard Written English...Structure and language aside, the overall story Hurston tells is insightful and still relevant today. She explores gender roles and examines race in terms of its cultural construction and how ideas of race are spread.

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A Striped Armchair

Good
on Feb 26 2009

...I loved the book, but trying to put the reasons why into words is another matter altogether. Let’s just say, you should read it. And I wish I’d have read it earlier! I plan on buying my own copy, so I can visit with Janie whenever I want.

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Joy's Book Blog

Good
Reviewed by Joy Weese Moll on Mar 16 2014

For me, this felt like an essential American novel but it’s also a universal story. Very wide appeal.

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Utah Mom's Life

Excellent
Reviewed by UTAH MOM on Mar 22 2011

As an anthropologist, Hurston also understands people and the social rules that bind people and tie them down. Janie is a complex character and I enjoyed watching her grow into herself in this novel. This novel is a true American classic and deserves a place with the works of Steinbeck, James and Faulkner.

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The Compulsive Reader

Above average
Reviewed by The Compulsive Reader on Jan 20 2010

Sometimes it was like translating a different language just to read the conversations, so that got quite frustrating...But other than that, this really was quite a fascinating book, and every time I think of it, my mind wanders back...

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Your Move, Dickens

Excellent
Reviewed by Darlyn on Apr 05 2011

I can’t rave enough about this book. Hurston’s writing is so beautiful, and unlike anything I’ve ever read before...Hurston’s prose just tastes sweet. She puts the most unexpected words together, and infuses them with profound meaning that made me stop to think A LOT.

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Cold Read Blog

Good
Reviewed by Suzanne on Feb 20 2014

All of this is set amidst stunning prose and a story that has you sitting on the edge of your seat, laughing, emitting romantic sighs and shedding a few tears. Bravo!

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Col Reads

Excellent
Reviewed by Col on Oct 16 2013

I would encourage all lovers of literary fiction to read this book. Southern literature enthusiasts and classic romance readers would enjoy it as well. It spans so many boundaries: humorous but heartbreaking, classic but out of the ordinary, ancient but totally fresh.

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Such A Book Nerd

Excellent
Reviewed by JamieP on Apr 21 2011

Everything about this book shines. Janie is understandable and likable, and her husbands are never painted one-dimensionally. The dialogue reads like poetry, and by the tragic end of Tea Cake the reader is so caught up that it feels almost like you’re there...

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Zinta Reviews

Good
Reviewed by Zinta Aistars on Dec 16 2010

Hurston is a wonderful writer, but also a wonderful observer of human nature. Intertwining the two, her work becomes art...This story is meant to be read, not viewed, because it is Hurston's use of language that creates the masterpiece.

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Reader Rating for Their Eyes Were Watching God
83%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 1565 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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