The Colour Purple is one of those books that I have had on my mental “should read” list for years. Knowing it is loved and acclaimed but for some reason never being that interested in reading it. The Time Traveler’s Wife and The Book Thief also fall into this category and I am determined to read at least one of these this year as well.
I wanted to read a selection of books for the Southern Reading challenge and it just seemed right to choose this one. It also fitted in nicely to the Colourful reading and Book awards 3 challenges. I am quite challenge focused right now with a few challenges due to finish soon. I also know I have over committed myself re challenges but I just can’t resist. Anyway, that is a topic for another post.
Back to The Colour Purple. I enjoyed it. I don’t think I quite had my jaw on the ground but am sure I was reading with my mouth open in horror at the first few pages. Celie is brought up in the saddest and harshest of environments. Beaten and raped by her father from the age of 14, her mother turning a blind eye to it with relief that it is no longer happening to her. Her two resulting children taken away from her, she presumes killed. No formal education, only able to speak basic English and all this being the accepted norm for a child who is a “girl, black and ugly”.
Celie’s situation only gets worse when she is married off to a man who was really interested in her sister but persuaded to take Celie as he needed someone to look after his children. The cycle continues.
The story is told by Celie in letter form, mostly the letters she writes to God and despite the terrible start, she is able to learn and grow and find happiness. Her saviour comes in the form of Shug, a glamorous singer who Celie admires from afar and eventually grows to love.
I finished the book with a “warm fuzzy” feeling and thought the ending was good and right. I think that for once, I might enjoy the movie at least as much as the book.
Alice Walker wrote in the preface to the 10 year edition that this was always a spiritual book – learning to move from the religious to the spiritual. This overall theme of the book was lovely.
The Colour Purple won the Pulitzer prize in 1983.