Top positive review
9 people found this helpful
Wow - This is epic, biblical, powerful, and finally beautiful with strong characters who realistically transform
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.