Monday, October 07, 2013

Book Review: The Color Purple

The Color PurpleThe Color Purple by Alice Walker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this book based on the recommendation of a friend who has never gone wrong with his suggestions. This time was no different.

“The Color Purple” is the heart wrenching story of Celie, a black woman and the turmoil she withstands through her life. Set in the early 1900’s in the southern parts of United States, this is a tale of the hardships black women faced in terms of racism, poverty and sexism not only at the hands of the whites but also their own men.

Written predominantly in African American English, the interactions between the characters are subtle; each character being carefully sketched out with the language used lending its touch of authenticity. An epistolary novel, Celie writers letters to God about the people she meets, the conversations they have and the chain of events that shape her life.

Repeatedly raped by her stepfather at the tender age of fourteen, she bears two children who are immediately given away. After her mother’s death other than writing to God, all she cares about is keeping her sister Nettie safe and away from the torture she suffers. Her love for Nettie results in she getting trapped in a failed marriage with Albert, whom she always knows as Mister. Here on begins a phase of mothering Albert’s children from his first marriage and being a convenient “wife” for the occasional sex or a beating whatever his mood maybe.

On one hand Celie gets distanced from her sister who she thinks to be dead while on the other she gets introduced to Shug Avery, her husband’s girlfriend who is an independent blues singer.  Around the same time Albert’s son Harpo marries Sophia, a woman with a strong personality. Both Sophia and Shug play an instrumental role in changing Celie’s life. From being meek and na├»ve to transforming her into an independent woman capable of taking care of herself.

Through Shug, Celie gets to know that Albert has been hiding letters from her sister Nettie. Knowing that her sister is alive and that Albert kept it away from her becomes the tipping point in her life. Celie leaves him to begin a new life under Shug’s guidance.  From here on the narration switches to letters between Celie and Nettie who is now in Africa working as a missionary in a village called Olinka with another couple who are the step parents of none other than Celie’s children.

Thus follows a narration of the times in Africa and how the natives treat their women and fellow blacks from the world yonder.  Eventually Celie finds happiness with a family reunion and the amicable relationship that develops with both Shug and Albert.

The story moves at a consistent pace keeping you engrossed as you witness the highs and lows of Celie’s life. The plot does lose its way a bit with Nettie’s descriptions of Olinka and the troubles the village faces. However in light of the overall story line, this drawback might appear to be trivial.

All in all “The Color Purple” is a poignant saga of a black woman who despite all odds adds true meaning to her life.

View all my reviews


  1. Sounds like an inspiring read.

  2. Indrani- It is indeed a beautiful book, the language (Afro american) makes it a tad bit tough to start with but as you take the journey with Celie it tears through your heart to imagine the life she leads...

  3. I had read another review of this book, Seeta. You've brought home a few more points. I look forward to reading it.

    1. It's worth a read, do pick it up :)


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