Janie Crawford was forced into her first marriage at 17. Her grandmother, who was born a slave, wanted Janie to be taken care of for the rest of her life. Janie agrees thinking that eventually she will love the old man her grandmother has chosen. She learns that she can't force herself to love someone he ones a 60-acre potato farm. Janie's heart continued to wander.
And so it wanders to Joe Starks, through whom she learns she has a voice he won't let her use. They stay married until he dies twenty years later.
And then there was Tea Cake. My heart sighs at the sound of that name. Read it to understand why.
The first chapter is brutal. Zora Neale Hurston writes poetically, but her characters talk like their from deep south (it is early twentieth century Florida). Once you get into the vernacular and can handle the transitions between speech and narration the book flows smoothly. It takes you from Eatonville to the "muck" in the Everglades. It takes you three marriages and forty years of life. It ends in peace and even though a part of you will be left in the last chapters, you'll feel as whole as Janie.
There are very few stories I would describe as perfect, but this is one of them. Janie learns her mind, body, and soul through the love of a man who wanted her, not what he could make out of her.