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The Color Purple | [Alice Walker]

The Color Purple

Celie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 - when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate - and continuing over the course of her marriage to "Mister", a brutal man who terrorizes her.
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Audible Editor Reviews

The Color Purple is a story of survival, spirituality, and the strength of the bond between two sisters, spanning two continents and nearly three decades. To hear Alice Walker read her own Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is an absolute treasure. Walker’s voice is clear, strong, and true — a testament to the courage and hope that carries the main character Celie through the story.

Celie’s circumstances are unimaginable — poor, female, uneducated, motherless, and African American in the Deep South — she is without anyone to protect her, except her God. It is her communication with God — and her other savior, her sister Nettie — that sustains her and supplies the narrative of The Color Purple. At the beginning of the novel, Celie’s communication with both God and Nettie is one-way, however, as Nettie has been swept away from her, all the way to Africa, and God sends her few signs he is watching over her.

As Celie survives sexual abuse from her stepfather, the death of her mother, the violent loss of her two children, and marriage to the monstrous and cruel “Mister”, she remains kind and loving through it all. When the beautiful and liberated singer Shug Avery comes into her life, Celie is opened up. Shug tells Celie, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” Someone other than Nettie finally loves Celie, and she begins to truly see the beauty around her and believe her life is worth something.

In the preface, Walker says The Color Purple is the story of Celie’s journey from her place as “a spiritual captive” to “the realization that she…is a radiant expression…of the Divine”. Throughout the novel, Walker’s voice audibly breaks free of the bonds of abuse and cruelty into the freedom of spirituality and peace. It is almost as if Walker’s voice contains within each note the whole of the African American experience — encapsulated in the courage and triumph of Celie’s story. —Sarah Evans Hogeboom

Publisher's Summary

Celie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 - when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate - and continuing over the course of her marriage to "Mister", a brutal man who terrorizes her.

Celie eventually learns that her abusive husband has been keeping her sister's letters from her, and the rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend, Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self.

©1982 Alice Walker (P)2009 Alice Walker and Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

  • Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 1983

"[A] striking and consummately well-written novel." (New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (1214 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Rebecca 04-15-12
    Rebecca 04-15-12 Member Since 2009

    Love to read, and Audible has made the two-hour daily commute enjoyable!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    112
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    "Alice Walker bring Celie to life"

    The story starts with Celie's letters to God. She is poor, and abused. Life is bleak, but eventually gives way to love and happiness.

    Watching Celie's journey, and her sister Nettie was moving. Feminist/black literature, the book doesn't flinch as it examines abuse, incest, lesbianism, Jim Crow, religion, and the Olinka tribe in Africa.

    The author was the narrator, and it was wonderful.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teri Beaverton, OR, United States 04-17-12
    Teri Beaverton, OR, United States 04-17-12 Member Since 2009

    Mom, wife, reader. I love reading a book I don't want to put down.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Better than the movie."
    What did you love best about The Color Purple?

    I always loved the movie but the book is better. I could really feel Celie's pain.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    robin campbellville, Ontario, Canada 03-05-12
    robin campbellville, Ontario, Canada 03-05-12 Member Since 2012
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    "excellent perforance great story"
    If you could sum up The Color Purple in three words, what would they be?

    one of my favourites


    What did you like best about this story?

    the relationships between the characters


    Have you listened to any of Alice Walker’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    no


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    no to long


    Any additional comments?

    I enjoy storys that are about the struggles of black americans in the south, I like the sound of African American voice, deep and rich, it is very relaxing to listen to.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tiffany Huntington Beach, CA, United States 12-24-11
    Tiffany Huntington Beach, CA, United States 12-24-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Watch the movie!!"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    No! This is probably the only time I have ever said that the movie is better than the book. The author added NOTHING to the story as the narrator. Her tone was so flat and monotonous. It was painful to listen to the whole thing. The only good thing I can say is that listening to the book filled in a few minor holes from the movie.


    What was most disappointing about Alice Walker’s story?

    It was long winded.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Alice Walker?

    Oprah Winfrey would be a great choice as narrator! She could at least add some passion to the words and do the voice of Sophia spot on!


    Was The Color Purple worth the listening time?

    Not at all!


    Any additional comments?

    I grew up watching the movie over and over again! I loved it as a child and still live it as an adult. The book has been on my bucket list for years do when I signed up for audible and saw it was on here I was so excited. It was one of the most painful stories to get through. Ms. Walker as the narrator was a huge disappointment. There was no passion or inflection in her voice. It was as if some random person had picked up a book and started reading it out loud and wasn't connecting the words to anything. It is super long winded. I'm glad I crossed this one off of my list, but it was not a good experience all around. :(

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Elkins Park, PA, United States 12-12-11
    Amazon Customer Elkins Park, PA, United States 12-12-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful "read"!"
    Where does The Color Purple rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is one of the best


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Color Purple?

    Alice Walker reading her own work is priceless; it gives an authentic feel to the story.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carletta Chattanooga, TN, United States 03-18-11
    Carletta Chattanooga, TN, United States 03-18-11
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    "Good"

    After seeing the movie several times, I knew the book would be better & I was right.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edward West Point, NY, United States 08-06-10
    Edward West Point, NY, United States 08-06-10 Member Since 2006
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    "Intense -- but strongly recommended"

    One of the best novels I have read. Deeply moving and thought provoking, it is a gut wrenching story of tragedy, injustice, and redemption.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jill Franklin, CT, United States 08-01-10
    Jill Franklin, CT, United States 08-01-10 Member Since 2010
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    "I am glad to have bought it"

    It has been many years since I had seen the film, but I remember how much I liked it so I got this audiobook. It was hard to listen to for me, not because of the narrator (who I thought was wonderful), but just because of the brutality and sorrow the characters endured through no fault of their own. There were some similarities with "Push" by Sapphire, which I can only imagine it provided some inspiration for.I hope with the release of this audiobook that people will visit this story again. It is an important American work.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen hornell, NY, USA 03-18-10
    Kathleen hornell, NY, USA 03-18-10
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    "Alice Walker reads so slooowwwly!"

    I absolutely find this novel inspirational and it amazes me how Walker effectively touches on so many historical/sociological/political issues within a well crafted story. This audio book is hard to listen to though, as Alice Walker just reads so slowly. I was going to use it in class with my 11th grade English students, but we didn't have the patience.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Bennett 01-29-11
    D. Bennett 01-29-11 Listener Since 2010
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    "Unreliable Narrator"

    This is a great, moving, meaningful story. I highly recommend it. However...

    Alice Walker is not a terrific narrator. Others are correct to note that she reads too slowly. I also felt she was not credible as the voice of Celie, the main character. Celie is poor and uneducated. She speaks with the grammar and cadence of a poor southern black woman. Embodying this voice is not an easy job, but Walker does not really pull it off. Throughout the recording, I was conscious that it was educated, literary Alice Walker speaking, not Celie.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
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