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Showing 1-10 of 645 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,298 reviews
on March 12, 2017
The book discussion group met in March 2017 to enthusiastically discuss this. Wow, we loved this book. Most of us had seen the movie at some point in the past (and a few of us had seen the Oprah-produced Broadway musical), but it turns out this is a favorite book of a few members of the group and everybody liked it lot. We rarely get this kind of universal praise for a book, so you know that if you didn't read it for group, you should still definitely put it on your list of books to read.

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.
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on April 21, 2017
I confess to only just reading this iconic novel so very late in my own life. I have seen the movie a dozen or more times however, and was well aware of the powerful story. In fact, as I read the novel I realize how very closely the makers of the film stuck to the author's writing. Whole sentences were right out of the book! It is so beautifully written and so poignant a story. I love the development of the characters over the years and through the various trials of their lives. Never does this book come at you from a point of view of victimhood! It rises above cliché to tell a heartfelt tale that could well have been true of some of the persons who lived through this era. I especially love how sensitively it deals with the triad relationship of Albert, Celie and Shug. The movie kind of shied away from that love story but the book spells it out in a way that is lovely. I loved that Albert actually came to appreciate Celie enough to ask her to marry him again! I also loved that the author didn't settle for easy solutions and really kept the love of Celie and Shug in tact. I could imagine the beautiful reunion of Celie and Nettie and the meeting of her children. I will re-read this book every so often for the rest of my life as it is a lovely reminder of what the human spirit is capable of and the enormous power of love.
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on February 9, 2016
The novel, The Color Purple, is about the main character, Celie, and her sister Nettie. Some other characters are Celie and Nettie’s stepfather, Celie’s husband, and Celie’s lover, Shug. It uses detailed imagery to paint a picture of all of the characters, their physical and emotional attributes. The main theme throughout the novel is how people of certain races and genders are mistreated throughout the era of the 1940s. The main character, Celie, is abused by her stepfather, verbally and physically. It shows her struggle from being stuck in his clutches, to becoming her own person, and earning her independence. She discovers things about herself, and discovers things about other people, and what they mean to her in certain aspects of her life. My favorite character was Celie, this is because the reader can see the progress she makes over the course of the book, and I think the strength that she finds within herself is inspiring and encouraging. I relate to Celie, and all the other characters in the book that have been mistreated, or abused. This is because I empathize for them, and I have had friends that have been mistreated, and I understand how it affects a person's well being, and besides that, their self esteem. I loved the book, I loved the type of insight it gave into an aspect of life that no other author really covers. My favorite part of this book was the part where Celie begins to realize that she is worth more than what she is being given. Through the support of her lover, Shug, she gains self-confidence and realizes that she did not deserve the horrible treatment that she received throughout her entire life. She had to withstand being molested by her step-father, basically being held captive by him, and then in a sense, he “sold” her to the man he thought would need her housekeeping skills the most. She constantly had to go through only being thought of as a piece of meat, and property, almost the maid of every house she walked into. The only thing I would change about this book would be the beginning of the exchange of letters between Nettie and Celie, the first section where it is just about 20 pages of Nettie’s letters to Celie are a bit hard to grasp and get interested in enough to get through that section. Although I am happy I did, because past that, the book was amazing! I read about what was happening in the African village that nettie was in, but also got to see what was happening in Celie’s life. I would definitely recommend this book to any of my friends, it has a great insight on the lives of black women in the 1940s, and unique.
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on May 31, 2017
The fifth time was not only a charm, it was so charming, I know I'll read it again this year. I first read Alice Walker's wonderful book in 1984. Albert, Celie and Shug feel like they have become part of my DNA. Celie, the focal character, is unveiled through a series of letters. Her broken, dispirited character is revealed in letters to God, to her sister Nettle, who is in Africa, and in Nettle's letters to Celie. Celie is revealed to be a person whose life is out of control. Perhaps it would be best to say that in the beginning, she is powerless over the life she was dealt. What was that life?

She was raped by her stepfather. To make the horror of that event even more tragic, the stepfather sells the two children born of that unholy union. For me, I kept hearing myself say, "The bastard sold the bastards." The first use of that vile term defined my hatred of the stepfather for such a thing. The second use of the term expresses my sadness at the way those two children came into Celie's world, violently, and then taken away from her violently as well.

There is another missing child. Her younger sister, Nettle, ran away to escape the stepfather's abuse. That makes it three children that are torn away from this tragic hero's world. As if those acts did not set up this short novel for heartache, Ms. Walker has something else in this purple rage of a beginning. Celie is married off to an old man, Albert. She calls him "Mr." It is as if her refusal to give this older man a Christian name, yea, even a name at all, she somehow wills him not to exist. "Mr." turns out to be another "bastard." He works her hard and beats her when the mood strikes him.

Is redemption possible with such a bleak setting? Yes, and from unimaginable sources: A sassy, classy singer, Shug, whom Albert loves and Sophia, a big, independent woman who rules her own life even when that self rule leads to her downfall. She will not, however, be taken advantage of by a husband or a woman boss. It must have been an inspiring thought on Walker's part to name Sophia for the central component of her character. Sophia in Greek is "Wisdom," and Sophia is a fount of wisdom to Celie.

I fell in love with the language of the book. I have no doubt that some of the criticism of the book centered on the stereotypical language of a poor black woman in the 1940's, but Walker has an ear for the language and a gift of being able to transfer it to paper so that the reader "hears" the lilt of the natural language in this small black abused woman. She writes: “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.”

In the end, we see that indeed God has made all things work together for good. I'll tiptoe up to the edge of giving away the plot realizing that most people are aware of the content of the book and know that Walker finds a way to bring redemption to all three of the main characters. Celie's theology, and yes, this is a theological book. We see it when she says, “Everything want to be loved. Us sing and dance and holler, just trying to be loved.” In the end, all of the characters seem to sense that they have the ability to love, but equally important, they have the ability to receive love in return. It is a "Wonder Full" book:

“I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ask. And that in wondering bout the big things and asking bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, the more I love.”
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on June 7, 2017
Though I chose this book as a reread, having read it in high school. However, once I started reading it I realized I didn't actually remember it at all. It was a nice surprise. Not only are the characters believable but they're written in such a way that can make you deeply empathetic towards them. Though I've never suffered many of the struggles or in justices of the characters in the book I can relate to some of the stronger motivations in Celie. Seeing her change through the book as much as her core values stay the same while this whole Pantheon of people grow and change around her made for a story that kept you wanting to keep reading. And it wasn't too predictable. At the end I really did wonder if she was going to reunite with her sister or not and I don't think I would have been surprised either way.

I found it interesting that comma though I know I was taught this book in high school, and I didn't really pay attention obviously, I never really hear about this book as being something that also addressed being a lesbian woman in the rural South in the 30s. It's frequently said now that black feminism or black lgbtq rights 10 to get minimized by mainstream feminism and mainstream lgbtq activists in modern time comma and while this book clearly addresses female rights and domestic violence even the plot summaries and jacket summaries fail to mention the sexuality of the protagonist, which I find interesting. It may be because her sexuality is in a way a side issue because in the end she is able to freely Express her sexuality, but I feel like that would be another reason to raise up or teach this book.
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on May 26, 2017
This book is infinitely moving. I couldn't put it down. The characters are developed so thoughtfully that you feel personal connections with them. They are complicated and dynamic; just as humans are, when you think you know everything about them you are given surprises. Absolutely fantastic read that gives important, passionate and irreplaceable insight that carries merit on its own. If you have not read this book I would highly recommend adding it to your list and prioritizing it to the top. Very easy read, you will laugh, become sorrowful, angry and every other range of emotion under the spectrum possible. Only negative would be that it had to end. Loved it.
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on August 27, 2015
I had only ever seen the movie before I read this, but I absolutely love the movie. I watch it several times a year, and even sometimes just while I'm working on homework or even for no reason at all. Still, I was wary about reading the book because I was afraid it would destroy my perception of the movie. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised, and now I am in love with both the movie and the book. I would like to say that if anyone is reading this and expecting it to be word for word like the movie, or visa versa, you will be a little disappointed. Both are wonderful works, and they should be appreciated as such. Neither one should be compared to the other while reading/watching them because they were not approached the same way. I'd say the movie is toned down more language wise, but the book is more forthcoming. There is a lot that was left out, and after reading the book a lot more of what happened in the movie makes sense.

***Spoilers ahead***

- Shug and Celie's relationship is explored in depth. You get a sense of it in the movie, but the book definitely clarifies that Celie and Shug are lovers.

- Albert isn't quite as cruel to Celie as he is in the movie. There's abuse, but eventually he becomes remorseful and the two of them end up becoming close friends.

- All of the characters lives are discussed while the book just kind of left you wondering what happened to Squeak, Celie's other siblings, Celie's real father, Harpo and Sofia's kids, etc.

- The mayor's wife is far more sinister in the book than she is in the movie, which makes much more sense.

- A lot of the conversations are taken out of context in the movie, and after reading the books they made more sense. For instance, the "This life be over soon, heaven last always" conversation between Celie and Sofia. Celie explains she told Harpo to beat Sofia because she was jealous at how strong she was. Another is the conversation between Celie and Shug about sleeping with Albert. In the movie Shug just asks if Celie minded that she slept with him (assumingly in the past) but in the book it's made clear that Shug wanted to sleep with Albert during the present time. She also slept with Celie, as mentioned before, and Celie explained how jealous her sleeping with Albert made her.

All in all it's a great read, and I recommend anyone who is a fan of the movie to read the book. Yes, there are some "language choices" that make the book seem more sexual, but in all fairness that makes the story more realistic. If that sort of thing bothers you then just stick to the movie. However, if you're looking for answers like I was, and you don't mind the honesty, this is something you need to read.
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on September 16, 2016
I have always loved the movie version and finally decided it was time to read the book. I am so glad I did! It is actually quite a bit different than the movie. There's the general story line that the movie was based upon, but I was really surprised to find that a major premise of the book was more focusing on the concept of God and how slavery plays its role in that, rather than simply just one woman's life's struggles. Also interesting that Celie's sister Nettie plays such a bigger significant role in the book versus the movie, where she was really just a side character. The main characters' relationships are quite different in the book than the way they are portrayed in the movie, too The relationship between Celie and Shug, and the relationship between Celie an Mr. were both remarkable surprises. I sincerely appreciate this book in a profound way, and I am thankful for Alice Walker's brilliance. Don't get me wrong - I absolutely LOVE the movie, I always cry, it's one of my all time favorites... But this book is very much worth the read. You will not be disappointed.
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on April 20, 2017
“I am an expression of the divine, just like a peach is, just like a fish is. I have a right to be this way." -Shug Avery from The Color Purple. The Color Purple by Alice Walker is an inspirational tale about a young woman named Celie overcoming the hand that life had dealt her: a sexually abusive father, a forced marriage with a husband she doesn't love, and her sister heading off to be a missionary in Africa. Along her path of adversity, she meets a strong independent woman named Shug Avery. Shug shows Celie that life can be beautiful so long as you're able to love yourself for who you are, and be free to live your life. Shug frees Celie through teaching her important lessons about God, and love, and gratitude.

I rate the book 4.5 stars out of five. The book was amazingly written, and it gives a phenomenal perspective of how women face difficulties in life, and yet, are able to overcome them. However, I knocked half a star off due to the writing style of most of the book. It's written in pidgin English to emphasize how Celie communicates, but it makes it a bit harder to read, and a bit easier to lose the meaning behind the words.

I recommend this book to teenagers and adults who are interested in realistic fiction. It's got some heavy content that may be unsuitable for younger readers, especially due to the mention of subjects such as rape, teenage pregnancy, and the amount of swearing the book. It's a wonderful story about adversity, and everyone over the age of fourteen should read it.
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on June 17, 2014
Dear reader. If you haven't read THE COLOR PURPLE, you must read it. It might be hard. Hard to read it. Yes. Maybe you heard things. Maybe you're afraid. Maybe you aren't. All the things. The things that are hidden, not talked about. We don't like talking about them, sometimes we don't know how. Racism. Sexism. Abuse. Rape. Violence. Oppression. Big things. Big ugly scary things. But also little beautiful things. Like the color purple of the flowers in the field. And big good things, like love. And family. And happiness. And forgiveness. Faith. God. Spirit. Belief. Hope. I began reading this book like a little book, and I finished reading it like a big book, like a whole universe of its own. I didn't know a book could be so big, yet it is. Effortlessly. And it's filled with so much love, that it made me cry, many times. Weep. Sit there over it, think about life, and weep. What else could you ask of a book? It's cathartic. And the story. Of course, the story itself is beautiful, epic, the story that spans years, twenty years of Celie's life.

Celie. It all starts with Celie. She is 14. She is abused and raped by her father, gets pregnant twice, "gets big", in her own words. She doesn't understand what is happening to her, why. And so she writes letters to God. She is poor. She is black. She is married off to the man she doesn't love, the man who beats her, degrades her, abuses her. All she has is her letters, first to God, then to Nettie, her sister. But not all is bad. Not everything. She has a close friend. She learns things. She overcomes her fears. She gains strength where one wouldn't think to look, and she isn't broken. So many have tried to break her, but couldn't. She learns to forgive, to love, to be. To believe. To live. That's all any of us want. Live. Be loved. Be happy. I don't know what other books shows it so well, makes you feel, with your skin, with your bones. It's hard to writ about it, it's so big. Read it, see for yourself. This is not a book. It's a gift.
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