"Alice Walker's novel "The Color Purple" has had an interesting "life," as far as books go. It's been the subject of controversy over her portrayal of black men and her use of black vernacular language; it's been adapted by director Steven Spielberg into a motion picture that's inspired its own controversy; it's had a whole other life as a text used in college courses. But, so many years after its original publication, and after all of the accolades and debates, "The Color Purple" still holds its own as a compelling piece of fiction.
"The Color Purple" is written in the form of letters. It opens with a letter to God from Celie, a rural African-American girl who, as she reveals on the first page, is a victim of sexual abuse. As Celie grows into womanhood, Walker paints a fascinating portrait of the community of people who make up Celie's world.
"The Color Purple" is, ultimately, about liberation and redemption. Those who believe that this book attacks black men are wrong. This book attacks violence and abuse, and celebrates those--whether victim or victimizer--who are able to break the cycle of abuse and truly grow as human beings. This novel is bold in its exploration of sexuality--in particular, lesbian sexuality--as a potentially liberating force. And Walker also explores the possibility of an alternative spirituality and alternative family structures to heal those who have been damaged by the racist, sexist paradigms of United States society.
"The Color Purple" is also about the power of writing. In her long career, Alice Walker has distinguished herself as a writer of poetry, essays, short fiction, and novels. "The Color Purple" is among the best of her many fine literary achievements, and this novel continues to have a vibrant life of its own."
- Michael J. Mazza
This book is one of the greats, with characters delineated so clearly that they will live on in your heart. Don't pick it up if you are looking for a light read. Walker deals with some painful issues: abandonment, abuse, self-loathing. But she deals just as honestly with courage and redemption.
I have been meaning to read this book for years ever since seeing the movie when it first came out in the 1980s. I'm glad I finally got to read it and now I would like to see the movie again to see how it compares. The book is excellent filled with honesty and heart-wrenching poignancy. The story of Celie through a childhood filled with incest and abuse to her growth into adulthood is beautifully written. The novel includes correspondence with Celie's sister Nettie who traveled to Africa as a missionary. I don't remember this being a focus of the movie but it's essential to the story. Overall, a brilliant work delving into the lives of some memorable African Americans.
A beautiful story to be read with kleenex in hand. How wonderful and powerful. As much as I loved the movie, it really did not capture how much is in this book.
One of the most incredible books I've EVER read. A true classic: funny, poignant, completely unforgettable.