It’s between the two World Wars in rural Georgia and Celie is all alone. She is abused by her father, forced to marry a man she does not care for and her beloved sister Nettie has moved away. Celie is quiet, reserved and afraid of the man she lives with as she is forced to look after his many children and his house. That all changes when the glamorous Shug Avery comes into her life, showing how different life can be and Celie may have a chance at happiness after all.
The Color Purple is seen as an American classic and rightly so. It’s a bit difficult to get into to start with as it is written in colloquial language – something I haven’t read since I was at University – but the story soon pulls you in. Once you are involved in Celie’s life and emotions The Color Purple is actually quite a quick read.
The novel is formatted in letters Celie writes to God and the theme of letters and communication is very important throughout the book as it offers Celie the chance to express herself which she doesn’t get to do in her everyday life. Other over-arching themes include racism and sexism as well as various characters disrupting traditional gender-roles which always provided interesting (and sometimes funny) scenes.
The Color Purple is a bit of a love letter to women and female relationships. Those relationships are romantic, friendship and familial and they are all equally important. With her relationships with the various women in her life, Celie learns to grow and become stronger and more independent.
Celie is a great protagonist. Considering how much violence she is subjected to, violence that is physical, emotional and sexual, she never stops having the capacity for love. She is also a multi-dimensional character (like all of the characters really, even ones you wouldn’t expect to be) she gets angry and wants to hurt those who have hurt her as well as having this huge amount of love to give.
The Color Purple really is a beautiful book – with an ending that really touched me. It has so many wonderful complex characters and is definitely a book that everyone should read. 5/5.