Book – The Color Purple
Author – Alice Walker
Year – 1982
Genre – Fiction
Pages – 261
Bought for me by Alex Campbell
Starting out my books for 2012 is one of my Christmas presents from Alex – The Color Purple – which is not, as she suggested with tongue firmly in cheek, a sequel to last year’s Mauve. The Color Purple is a book that I have always had in the back of my head as something that I should read, but not once have I ever made any move whatsoever to find anything more about it.
It is a story about a black lady from the south of the United States who is raped by her father, and is then married off to a man that she doesn’t like, let alone love. Her lot is pretty terrible, and through a series of letters that she writes to God, we follow her over the years and see the different ways that her life changes.
There are so many reasons that this is not a book for me. It is a book about a time period I know little about, in a country I know little about, with a culture I know little about, and all written in a dialect that I don’t really understand. And yet I found it one of the most beautiful things I have ever read.
The main character, Celie, is written in such a vulnerable, clever way that it is so easy to empathise with her throughout. The story has twists and turns, and around halfway through makes a massive shift, which feels incredibly natural, and then has another shift even later on. The whole book is structured in such a way that the story feels very naturally paced, no matter where it jumps in real time. There are real issues addressed, and nothing is hidden away as taboo or un-PC. And most importantly, throughout it is entirely engaging.
The Color Purple is not a particularly old book, but for most of my life already, it has been considered to be a modern classic in the eyes of many people I have spoken to. Having now finished it, I could not agree more.