Paradise is a 1997 novel by Toni Morrison, and her first novel since winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. According to the author, it completes a "trilogy" that begins with Beloved and includes Jazz.
It was chosen as an Oprah's Book Club selection January 1998. Morrison wanted to call the novel War but was overridden by her editor.
The novel tells the story of the tension between the men of Ruby, Oklahoma (an all-black town founded in 1950) and a group of women who lived in a former convent seventeen miles away. After an opening chapter named after the town, the other chapters are named after some of the female characters, but are not simply about the women. Each chapter includes flashbacks to crucial events from the town's history in addition to the backstory of the titular character. The women in the Convent are Connie (Consolata), Mavis, Gigi (Grace), Seneca, and Pallas (Divine). These women all receive chapters. The townswomen who receive chapters are Pat (Patricia), Lone and Save-Marie. The focus on the women characters highlights the ways the novel portrays the gender differences between the patriarchal rigidity of the townsmen and the clandestine connections between the townswomen and the women at the Convent. The narration serves as an alternative voice to the actions in which the townsmen provide.
Convent Residents 
- Consolata (Connie): Brought to Convent as child by Reverend Mother Mary Magna. Begins drinking heavily after Mary Magna's death. Considered the leader/mother figure of the Convent women.
- Mavis: Housewife that left her family after accidentally killing her young twins Merle and Pearl. She and Gigi are constantly fighting with each other.
- Grace (Gigi): Attractive, strongly opinionated, free-spirited woman that left her imprisoned boyfriend Mikey Rood. Had a two-year fling with K.D. that ended badly.
- Seneca: Abandoned as a child and lived in several foster homes. Encouraged to leave her imprisoned boyfriend Eddie Turtle by his mother. Becomes Gigi's roommate, and secretly cuts herself.
- Pallas (Divine) Truelove: Sixteen year-old girl from a rich family. Ran away with and was betrayed by her lover Carlos. Brought to Convent by Billie Delia, and nicknamed Divine after her mother by Gigi.
Ruby Townspeople 
The Morgan Family 
- Deacon and Steward Morgan: Twin brothers of Ruby Morgan. Hold a great deal of influence in town.
- Dovey Morgan: Steward's wife. Miscarried several times and cannot have children.
- Soane Morgan: Deacon's wife. Lost two sons in war. She went to the Convent to abort her third child. When Connie wouldn't help her, Soane lost the baby. She had never intended to abort the baby, but wanted to let Connie know that she knew about Connie's affair with Deek. She believes that she lost her baby because of this ruse.
- K.D. (Kentucky Derby) Morgan: Son of Ruby Morgan. Known for chasing women, but largely protected by family's reputation.
The Cato/Best Family 
- Roger Best: First to marry outside of Ruby townspeople. His wife looked white and their children are light-skinned, which gave the family a negative reputation in town.
- Patricia Best: Daughter of Roger Best, widow of Billy Cato. Teacher researching town history.
- Billie Delia Cato: Daughter of Patricia Best and Billy Cato. Thought to be the town's "fast" girl. In love with brothers Apollo and Brood Poole, moved out of town after fight with mother.
The Fleetwood Family 
- Jefferson Fleetwood: Son of Arnold and Mable Fleetwood. Threatened to shoot K.D. for mistreating Arnette.
- Sweetie Fleetwood: Jefferson's wife. Gave birth to damaged children, and spends all of her time caring for them.
- Arnette Fleetwood: Jefferson's younger sister. Left pregnant by K.D. around fourteen years old. Attempted to abort, but gave birth at Convent and abandoned baby.
- Anna Flood: Daughter of Ace Flood. Inherited her father's store.
- Richard Misner: Younger reverend involved with Anna Flood.
- Senior Pulliam: Older reverend constantly at odds with Misner.
- Lone DuPres: Adopted daughter of Fairy DuPres. Midwife who became unpopular after supposedly causing the defects in Sweetie's children. Taught black magic to Connie.