Friday, June 17, 2016

The Color Purple - book review

As I continue working toward my goal to read all the Pulitzer Prize winners in fiction, I'm finding that many of the books are "downers" . . . like the 1983 winner, The Color Purple, by Alice Walker.

I vaguely remember there being a movie based on this book back in the 80s, but I didn't know anything about the story. It turns out that this is a story about a poor black girl, Celie, who becomes a teenage bride and suffers abuse and poverty. It's also the story of her sister, Nettie, who lives with a missionary family in Africa, although we don't learn her story until almost halfway through the book.

The book is written in diary and letter form. There's a good bit of profanity and some explicit sexual scenes (incest, rape & a homosexual relationship between Celie & Shug). The graphic sexual abuse and violence are disturbing, making this story about racism, poverty and inequality difficult to read. While the book has been praised for the "eloquent use of black English vernacular," the poor diction makes it a slow read. And rather than name Celie's husband, he is referred to as Mr. _______. It was also disappointing to me that the spiritual theme was skewed as the characters conclude that everything is God.

Have you read this book? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


  1. This is one of those books that has always been on my "to read sometime" list

  2. I read this book years ago. I'm contemplating seeing the Broadway play when we go to NYC next spring.

  3. I read this book, I didn't see the movie as the book was so hard to read but saw clips and then bits as it was on near me one visit to a friend.

    Agreeing with you tho' that many of the most celebrated books are those that show the depth and angst of life - and are therefore downers.


Thanks so much for your comment - it's like a ray of sunshine in my day!