The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Before I get into the bulk of this review, I’ll be nitpicky and say that I’m having an internal struggle with typing ‘colour’ as ‘color’. I need that ‘u’ in the word – yes, I know Alice Walker is American, and Americans spell ‘colour’ like ‘color’, but I’ve learnt to spell it as ‘colour’ for my entire life, so it’s taking lots of my concentration to spell this particular book title right.
Now, nitpicking American spellings aside (I don’t actually mind your spellings all that much, I only mind the gigantic orange you have as a ‘president’, if you can call it that), I really loved this book.
Let’s leave the whole ‘showing white people a different culture’ thing aside, and focus on the book, irrespective of its value in educating people. People seem to always leave this out of their reviews of books that focus on a certain culture different to their own. I’m a big believer in not liking things for the sake of them being about people of colour etc.
The way this book was written – in diary entry form, the diary entries being letters to ‘God’ – made it super easy to read, and a really pacy read as well. Alice Walker also manages to incorporate a part of the narrative into the letters themselves as well, which I found really clever.
I also really like the cover. I do occasionally judge books by their cover, but only in a positive light. And the cover of the edition I borrowed from my college’s library is beautiful.
This is a really clever and informative book, with an engaging central plot about the protagonist Celie. Although I think it is mostly a book about race, specifically the experiences of black women in 1930s America, it also has a brilliant subtheme of sexuality and lesbian relationships. This isn’t made a massive deal of, though, and sex
This isn’t made a massive deal of, though, and sex is dealt with in a really interesting way throughout the novel, especially for a woman writing diary entries to a religious deity figure in America in the 1930s – a time period which, to my knowledge, was very religious in its views.
It is always simultaneously and horrific to hear about how women were treated in this time, especially black women, so it appeals to the history nerd in me. It’s an incredibly heavy novel and deals with some extremely dark themes, but I would recommend this to anyone who is mature enough to deal with more adult themes such as sex and abuse.
It also transpired, after I finished reading this, that it’s on my summer reading list for my English Literature coursework, which was good to hear!
I gave this book a 5 star rating, and would defend that in a bar fight.