“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”
― Alice Walker, The Color Purple
The Color Purple is set in the deep American South between the wars. The central character is Celie, a black woman born into poverty, raped by her father, then sold into marriage. It is when she meets Shug Avery, a glamourous singer, that her life starts to turn around. She falls in love, and finds herself and her freedom, and eventually her place in the world.
I picked this book up because it was on an offer. I’d heard that it’s a story touched by LGBT themes, and that it’s a classic. It wasn’t a book I would have sought out and bought full price.
Which shows that you don’t know when an amazing book is going to come into your life.
I loved this book. I read the first page and I was hooked. The writing, the voice, the character, it all grabbed me and I knew that this was going to be a fantastic book.
Celie tells the first half of the story through her letters to god. She starts by telling of her childhood, and moves on through her life. Her voice has strength on the page through the way the book is written. Celie is not very literate, she has a basic knowledge of reading and writing, and the author Alice Walker, writes what Celie would write. Words are spelled incorrectly, and the grammar is not what we would call right. This technique gives a true voice to Celie.
The further into the book I got, the more I admired Celie. She shows herself to be a character of strength, and braver than some of the other characters take her to be. She eventually stands up for herself, despite living her whole life being told, and believing, a lot of negative things about herself.
The story unfolds slowly, following Celie, and later, Nettie’s life as well (her sister). I couldn’t predict what was going to happen most of the time. A few events seemed to throw the story off course, but it managed to pull itself back on track, back towards a satisfying ending. An ending that made me cry, which is quite a challenge – I don’t often cry at books. But this one got me.
The book centres around freedom and family, reflected in the racial tensions that run through the book. Because of the period the story is set in, and the area, slavery is mentioned, and its affects are still felt. There is still a lot of oppression in the South, and consequently, miscarriages of justice. This book deals with the history of the time in, what I felt was, a sensitive and realistic way. It doesn’t shy away from the wrongs done to people like Celie and her family.
I’m glad I read this novel, and grateful for that offer. I’ve never read a book set in the South, dealing with the issues it deals with. I feel like I’ve walked in another perspective for a week, and found the beginnings of a new understanding. One book can never show the whole story of a time period and a people, but it can open your mind to finding out more.
I whole-heartedly recommend this book. It’s not an action-packed story, but it is full of emotion and amazing characters.
Five out of five stars