The prospect of writing a book review for The Color Purple is a little daunting, because it is just that good, but here goes….
This epistolary novel is one of the deepest and richest and most moving stories I’ve ever read. It’s both heartbreaking and uplifting in the extreme, and its protagonist, Celie, is a girl/woman I fell in love with on the very first page and will cherish for the rest of my life.
The book starts with the horrifying details Celie’s life with Pa (her sexually abusive father, with whom she had two children, her first at the tender age of 14), and it doesn’t get much better after her marriage to Mr._____. We desperately want Celie to find happiness but she finds, instead, more misery. She’s beaten, forced to work daily, both inside the house and out in the fields, to the point of exhaustion, and even though Mr._____ does not love or care for Celie, he still forces her to engage in sexual relations with him, something Celie dislikes as much as the beatings.
All until the catalyst of change- Shug Avery enters the book….I will not go any further as I do not wish to ruin the story for those of you who are yet to read it.
Celie is, for me,is a beautiful, heartbreaking and generous character. Her boundless spirit is radiant…dazzling, and I don’t know how anyone could fail to love her. Alice Walker has done such a magnificent job in bringing Celie to life that she truly broke my heart, time and time again.
The other characters are fully realized as well and all are rich and extremely complex. Each character is fighting his or her own personal demons and struggles. Each character is trying to find happiness and the will to survive and none of them are wholly bad or wholly good, not even Celie. The Color Purple, however, is Celie’s book and it’s with her that we identify and empathize.
“I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ask. And that in wondering bout the big things and asting bout the big things you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know noting more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, he say, the more I love.”