The Color Purple - Alice Walker

The Color Purple is a 1982 epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction. It was later adapted into a film and musical of the same name.
Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of color in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture. 

On Friday, we covered an extract from this novel as one of our unseen texts, and I wanted to read it straight away. I’d heard of it before, but plenty of things had put me off.

I’d read bad reviews. But I’m trying to get over my habit of relying on reviews to help me decide whether to read a book. While I was thinking of writing this post, I decided to go over to Goodreads, and the one-star reviews on there for this make me laugh because it is such an excellent view. I think this is one of the few books where I have to address the bad reviews to show how well the author created this book.

‘False statements about God and the Bible’ - Okay, so I don’t believe in any sort of religion. I have to put it out there. But this novel points out that the Bible widely known is very western, and focuses on white people, favouring them over everyone else. This novel shows that some black people don’t view God as loving them because they are black, and they are seen as slaves in the bible. And I find it clever that Walker has created a character who challenges the existence of a god due to her suffering, and follows her changes in belief.

‘Do authors HAVE to use the word “titties” or other shocking words?’ - This one made me laugh, a lot. Firstly, I doubt that the people who are offended by this have read many other books. Also, they really don’t get the point being made by Walker’s language choices. She uses this to show how uneducated Celie is as a black woman from a deprived background.

I read this in a day. As my friends like to point out, I have an issue. I couldn’t put it down. I love diverse books, rather than the whole white-girl-meets-white-boy thing. The amount of culture in this amazed me - a side of culture I don’t think I would have even read about if it wasn’t for this novel.

I laughed and I cried along with the characters. And even though this novel is written in an epistolary form, the characters were developed with so much depth that they felt real to me.

It was heartwarming as well as traumatising. It wasn’t a ‘lovely’ story - I wish I could say that it was. But with the issues such as rape and abuse that it deals with, it can never be a book I class as ‘lovely’.

I can’t believe I didn’t read this sooner. I suppose I have my literature teacher to thank for making me need to pick this up, and for introducing me to more diverse literature.


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