Review: Their Eyes Were Watching God

Back to the Classics Challenge 2012(I read this book as part of the Back to the Classics Challenge. Click on the image to see what else I’ve read and join the fun!)

Despite a life of poverty and two unhappy marriages, Janie Crawford is a cheerful soul. Fiercely independent and free of the shackles of fear, bitterness, and foolish romantic expectations, she is able to enjoy each day as it comes.

Their Eyes Were Watching God follows Janie as she falls in love, is disappointed, experiences loss, and finally comes to understand herself.

Some thoughts

I’ve never been much of a fan of contemporary “classic” literature, and Their Eyes Were Watching God, unfortunately, did not win me over.

The biggest roadblock was the story itself. I don’t want to read a book about a girl whose “first dream [is] dead, so she [becomes] a woman.” I’m not attracted to a story where the heroine experiences bad relationship after bad relationship, and finally lands in a good one only to have it cut short in a horrible way. It’s vaguely masochistic.

While I didn’t particularly enjoy the story, though, I did really like Janie. And who wouldn’t? Even though she’s poor and stuck in an endless loop of being some man’s wife and property, she doesn’t let that break her will. She’s strong-minded and doesn’t let others’ opinions or gossip bother her. She sets off to find herself, and succeeds — and doesn’t let anyone take that away from her. Janie is positive and doesn’t let her past define her present or future. She’s a character with whom I would love to be friends.

And that made Their Eyes Were Watching God worth reading.

Challenge credit

Published in 1937, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God fulfills the credit for a 20th century classic read.

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4 thoughts on “Review: Their Eyes Were Watching God

  1. Great review. I remember I liked the book a lot when I read it in school, but when I refreshed my memory later on and looked at the synopsis, I wondered what made me like it so much. It’s not the kind of story i would have expected to stay with me. But I think you hit the nail on the head with Janie. She was the kind of character that makes a book worth reading.

    1. This was my first read of the novel, and it was definitely a case of liking everything except the plot. I’m glad that other people like Janie as much as I do!

  2. Weird! So, I read the synopsis and thought it sounded interesting and then I read your review and decided maybe I shouldn’t. Since I usually base my book reading decision based on synopses I could have made a huge mistake. I now know this book would irritate the heck out of me!

    1. I normally go based on summaries as well, but I often find out about books I want to read by seeing a blogger’s review; which can make it hard to stay objective.

      In this case, I actually do recommend this book. The writing is excellent, and Janie is a wonderful character. It’s worth the plot being a bummer.

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