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The Temple of My Familiar

78 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0671683993
ISBN-10: 0671683993
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Part love story, part fable, part feminist manifesto, part political statement, Walker's novel follows a cast of interrelated characters, most of them black. and each representing a differ ent ethnic strain that contributes to the black experience in America. Marred by didacticism, theorizing and pontificating, "the book never achieves the narrative power of The Color Purple ," noted PW .
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Nothing in Walker's extraordinary new novel is fixed. Time and place range from precolonial Africa to post-slavery North Carolina to modern-day San Francisco; and the characters themselves change and evolve as their stories are told, their myriad histories revealed. Most often present are Miss Lissie, an old woman with a fascinating host of former lives; her companion, the gentle Mr. Hal; Arveyda, a soul-searching musician; his wife Carlotta, who was born in the South American jungle; Fanny, a young woman who has a tendency to fall in love with spirits; and her husband Suwelo, who tries hard but simply does not understand her. Out of the telling of their stories emerges a glorious and iridescent fabric, a strand connecting all their lives and former lives and seeming to pull all of existence into its folds. Walker's characters are magnetic, even with their all-to-human flaws and stumblings; they seem to contain the world, and to do it justice. Highly recommended.
- Jessica Grim,
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket (May 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671683993
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671683993
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,655,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alice Walker (b. 1944), one of the United States' preeminent writers, is an award-winning author of novels, stories, essays, and poetry. In 1983, Walker became the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction with her novel The Color Purple, which also won the National Book Award. Her other books include The Third Life of Grange Copeland, Meridian, The Temple of My Familiar, and Possessing the Secret of Joy. In her public life, Walker has worked to address problems of injustice, inequality, and poverty as an activist, teacher, and public intellectual.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Jenny J.J.I. VINE VOICE on December 8, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was taken aback on some of the customer reviews and I felt the need to defend this extraordinary book."Temple of My Familiar" is more than an African-American feminist polemic or a deconstruction of Judeo-Christian values or a debunking of Western myth-making (that we call history). However, this appears to be where most critics get hung up on. They seem to point to certain "imperfections" such as the unruly narrative structure populated by countless characters and may subplots or the lack of restraint in the novel's exploration of numerous ideas and philosophical threads. The reality is that Temple of My Familiar challenges our preconceptions and offers up alternative worldviews as a direct confrontation to our socialized paradigms. But more importantly, it challenges us to explore what we have somehow lost along the way--our spiritual consciousness and sense of belonging. Ms. Walker possesses the courage of her convictions, and as such, this novel defies any attempt to put it into some nice neat little package. The novel challenges the reader to think, listen and dream. And the process is not orderly or self-evident. Temple doesn't offer up any real epiphanies or earth shattering revelations. It only offers suggestions and possibilities and most importantly, hopes. We have lost "Eden" a long way back; Temple of My Familiar is a beautiful attempt to get back to the garden.

Heck, nobody said, "It was going to be easy!"

She masterfully moves her characters beyond worldly conventions towards not only a greater understanding of themselves but of humanity at large. I honestly recommend this book to anyone who as ever wished to further themselves, because it is a literary experiment into the healing side of human nature (a side too often compromised for violence).
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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Courtney L. Lewis on July 19, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I purchased my version of Temple of My Familiar when I was working in Frankfurt, Germany. I didn't speak the language and stumbled across a kiosk in the center of the city that sold a few books in English and this was one of them. Not having read any Walker before, but knowing her reputation as a wonderful writer, I purchased the book and devoured it in one sitting. At first hungry for English, I realized I was savoring a masterpiece. Walker deftly intertwines the lives (and past lives) of numerous characters from the US, England, and Africa and gives incredible perspectives of many different perspectives of the native/colonial African experience as well as the experience of men and women in the racially divided US. I ended up rereading the book numerous times while in Europe and I periodically find myself rereading it every few months. Each character is on a personal journey to find themselves and honesty and caring for others is a key component to their discovery. A great message and a skillfully written book.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful By on December 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
I too was surprised by the other customer reviews and I feel the need to defend this extraordinary book that touched my life as no other before it has. There are many underlying messages in this novel that may remain unseen by one who reads what is merely on the surface. The imperfection of human emotion, the inexplicable forces of attraction, and the chains of one's past are all important issues that Ms. Walker delves into with style and grace. Yet at no time did I feel I was receiving too much information. On the contrary, I couldn't put the book down because I was so thirsty for more. The everyday, and not-so-everyday struggles of these amazing characters made these stories so touching and real that I found myself talking about them as if they were familiar friends. I feel that one of the most important issue that Ms. Walker deals with in this novel is the very true and very devastating change from the worship of the goddess to the god. She explains this transformation in such a way that any woman - or man for that matter - can understand and feel this pain as they should, for it affects all of our lives - now and forever. For those of you who have not read this book, please do so with an open heart and mind and I promise that you will receive the message that is meant for you. For those of you who have read it and did not understand it, I urge you to read again and again. You will see things that you never knew were there: in the book as well as inside yourself.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By S. Stephens on March 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
I read this for the first time in 1990. I was 13 the first time I read this book. At the time, the story was so complex, so moving to me in some way. Particularly Ms Lizzie's character. Someone who'd lived so many different lives, through so many different times struck a chord with me. I've read this book at least once every year since that first time. I've gone through three paperbacks and finally when I became an adult, got myself a beautiful first edition which I cherish. As I've gotten older, I've related to each character differently of course, come to understand them better in some ways, sometimes made some of the same mistakes they've made. Ms. Walker is an excellent writer, I've read all of her books but this one, for me is a masterpiece. Whenever some traumatic thing has happened in my life, I reach for this book. I've done papers, character analysis, paintings all based off of this work.
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