THE COLOR PURPLE is a highly awarded book and with good reason. Author Alice Walker was given both the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award for Fiction for this 1985 bestseller. THE COLOR PURPLE is the story of Celie --- a young girl abused by her father, then married off to a violent and angry man --- who maintains her dignity and strength through her relationships with her beloved sister and Shug, a flamboyant blues singer who enters her life while having an affair with Celie's husband. With Shug's love comes great courage and Celie finds a new person inside herself, awaiting bloom.
There are few books in American literature in which the female protagonist is so clearly and eagerly defined for us, in which we fall in love so quickly with the main character, in which the struggle of women, the spiritual inner struggle of every woman, is so completely embodied in one character. THE COLOR PURPLE is an absolute marvel, which should be read by everyone who loves a good story, a love story, a story of overcoming obstacles and odds to reign supreme. It is one of the most affecting and humanistic stories ever told.
Told through letters that Celie writes to others as well as to God, THE COLOR PURPLE is an expressive work of art. Celie, particularly once she ditches her nasty husband and gives in to her passionate love for Shug, is a full-blown metaphor for the promise of every American life --- not just for the freed slaves or the contemporary 90s woman, but for everyone who encounters awful reality and finds a way to stare it down and make it go away. Although Celie's life is spurred along by hateful and angry encounters, her good heart stays strong throughout, as she keeps her family together in the best kind of way.
I don't want to give away any specific details about this story because I think reading it the first time is such a wonderful and heartening surprise. Enjoy! Enjoy! And celebrate the wonder that is Celie!
Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on April 1, 1990
The Color Purple