- Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books; First edition (November 1, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780156031820
- ISBN-13: 978-0156031820
- ASIN: 0156031825
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,326 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #230,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Color Purple First Edition
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<DIV>Celie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate, and continuing over the course of her marriage to "Mister," a brutal man who terrorizes her. Celie eventually learns that her abusive husband has been keeping her sister's letters from her and the rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self.
- Format: Paperback
- Publication Date: 11/1/2006
- Pages: 304
- Reading Level: Age 14 and Up
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Most of us agreed that the language is tough and off-putting for the first few letters, but you both get used to the odd spellings and grammar and also the writing gets better at Celie writes more. After eight or ten letters, it all seems pretty normal.
The violence and cruelty is also tough and off-putting in the first part of the book but again, it gets less violent and you get used to it (what a horrifying thought!) as the novel continues.
The words that readers used to describe the events and language in the novel are "epic," "biblical," "powerful," and finally "beautiful."
The story seems huge and the family tree is complicated with parents, step-parents, unacknowledged parents, forced marriages, lovers and mistresses, as well as two dead unnamed mothers. But the major characters are clearly defined and change during the novel and, unlike many novels, the changes are clearly explained and well motivated by events in the novel.
Celie is so desperate to be loved that she loves everyone else without thinking of herself. The men are largely evil (this is probably a valid criticism of the novel) who are forced to learn and change by the strong and far more admirable women who shape them.
We enjoyed discussing butch and femme women (as well as the stupidly masculine men as compared to the loving and generous men), the open lesbianism, and the alternate Christian theology presented largely by the openly sexual Shug.
I thought that the African letters from Nettie were a bit dry and anthropological compared to Celie's personal and emotive letters. And a few of the readers thought that the ending was perhaps too happy with everyone turning out to be a better, more evolved character.
But these are quibbles compared to the well-drawn characters, the wide scope, the emotional fulfillment, and the positive changes that most of the characters undergo.