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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

4.5 (1681 )
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4.6 (1219 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Jami VICTOR, NY, United States 11-27-14
    Jami VICTOR, NY, United States 11-27-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Classic that stands up over time"

    I enjoyed the story overall, particularly Celie's story. I was not as enamored with Nettie's story and at times, felt that her parts dragged on a little bit. The book touched on a lot of different topics, which added to the story. The characters were realistic, interesting and well developed. I liked the ending and how everything came together. I saw the movie years ago, but didn't remember much of the story at all, so this was like reading it for the first time.

    The story was told in the format of letters, and it worked for this novel. The author also did an excellent job narrating the story, which in my experience, has not always been the case. However, I can't imagine anyone else doing a better job than she did.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sheryl Seiad Valley, CA, United States 10-15-14
    Sheryl Seiad Valley, CA, United States 10-15-14 Member Since 2010

    gourd gal

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    "Loved this book!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Color Purple to be better than the print version?

    I think that this book, read by the author was quite exquisite.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The characters were bright and individual. Each carried their own merit.


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

    No, but I will.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    This book produced many reactions, from laughing to crying.


    Any additional comments?

    You would be missing out on a wonderful read if you choose not to listen to it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cheimon New York, NY USA 10-07-14
    Cheimon New York, NY USA 10-07-14 Member Since 2007
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    "Narration by author - its own work of art"

    No matter how often you have read the book, watched the movie, seen the musical - your "The Color Purple" experience and appreciation cannot be complete until you have listened to Alice Walker narrate her own work. The skill with which she captures her characters and their times and the subtlety with which she conveys the changes that define them, make this performance a work of art in its own right. The novel got under my skin all over again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    garlic heart 10-06-14

    garlic heart

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    "bad representation of the culture"
    What disappointed you about The Color Purple?

    The book was nasty and made it seem like everybody of that culture in that time in that place was into incest and perversion and they had no morals and that's just simply not true very insulting to anybody from African descent or African American descent I couldn't stand it anymoreand stoped the book before I was even halfway finished


    Would you ever listen to anything by Alice Walker again?

    probably not


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

    No


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Color Purple?

    All of the scenes that talked about indiscriminate sexuality, cheating on each other spouses, incest,and any of the content that suggested that all black men are rapists and suggested that all black women are so dissatisfied with their lives that they are constantly looking to have an affair. if this were my culture that this book Is referring to then I would really be upset and I'm upset anyway for the people whose culture it is insulting; and I do not care if the author is part of the group that she is insulting that's still not a true representation of everybody even of that particular Group at that time and place I am sure.


    Any additional comments?

    I prefer the books that are true stories or some even novels that deal with the incredible People and characters and the heroic ways they handled a horrible discrimination and torture that was put upon them. yet out of that horror and travesty , Triumphed a strong rich culture in spite of it, such that everybody can be inspired by it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Della Lee Americas 08-31-14
    Della Lee Americas 08-31-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "more than a story"
    What did you love best about The Color Purple?

    Feeling like I was part of people's lives, lives different from my own.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Celie, with many others a close second. I enjoyed the way she evolved on the outside so her inner self could show. When she said men looked like frogs I just laughed because her description was so accurate.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The dinner scene when women spoke their own minds.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When Mister said Sugar acted more like a man than a women, Celie told him men don't do those things (being strong, direct, protective, etc.) and those traits were more like women.


    Any additional comments?

    The honesty of some of the women in this book was amazing, insightful, brave. They were so in touch with what they really felt and observed.
    I also learned a lot about history and different cultures. This was an excellent book in many ways. The reading could not have been better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robyn Carpinteria, CA, United States 07-31-14
    Robyn Carpinteria, CA, United States 07-31-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Soul Stirring"
    Any additional comments?

    Ive always hesitated to read this book because I assumed it would be a tough road (just look at the publisher's summary!) but I was completely off base. It is so uplifting and beautiful...yes there are struggles but these women prevail!! This book is about LOVE and strength. Alice Walker's narration is a gift, pure and simple, and I was so surprised after I listened to see that anyone had anything other than a rave to say about it. Also her imagination drummed up some of the most memorable and fantastic characters ever, and her writing is gorgeous. It's a great book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Fayetteville, GA, United States 07-21-14
    Amazon Customer Fayetteville, GA, United States 07-21-14 Member Since 2012

    Addicted to Audible!

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    "Classic!"
    Would you listen to The Color Purple again? Why?

    I have seen the movie and read the book more than once. Listening gave me gave me a different perspective on the book through the authors eyes.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Miss Celie


    Which scene was your favorite?

    When Miss Celie spoke up for herself in regard to Mister.


    If you could take any character from The Color Purple out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Miss Celie and Sophia. They both need a break.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diana Lynne Christman 06-20-14 Member Since 2014

    De Christman

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    "I Love this book"

    Narrated by the writer! It was great, thank you Alice Walker for taking the time to narrate this book, you did a fantastic job in both writting and narrating. A story that has been around for many years, I still Love it, and will listen to it again someday, I was sad that the end of the book ended this morning.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CUMMINGS hanford, CA, United States 06-16-14
    CUMMINGS hanford, CA, United States 06-16-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Alice don't read another Book....Ever"

    I read the book... Loved it... Saw the movie...Loved it... Got the audio version and was saddened by the narrator (Alice Walker). She wasn't horrible, but pretty dang close. Similar to Stephen King reading Bag of Bones... No Bueno. The story ranks high with me, however if I had not read the book before hearing Alice read it I would have stop listening to the book after about a couple of hours. Listening to the book makes the movie look so good. And the movie left some things out, which all do, but Mister in the book is a little guy. Danny Glover is 6'4" ... Ok back to Alice- She attempts to speak in a dialect comparable to the times .. FAIL.. Her ability to act with her voice FAIL... If you have listened to the first few Game of Thrones books, you will hear a master performance by Roy Dotrice . The books by Orson Scot Card are also masterfully narrated. I say all this to say this, Excellent book, Narrator, just so-so.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Borum Suh 06-16-14
    Borum Suh 06-16-14 Member Since 2013
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    "My own prejudices shattered"
    What did you love best about The Color Purple?

    I watched the movie first and was surprised by the novel with much more detail and a deeper emphasis on spirituality. At the end of the novel, I could see why the author called herself a 'medium'. I felt I was transported to somewhere among the harmonious copice of Eden itself.


    What other book might you compare The Color Purple to and why?

    Their Eyes Were Watching God is often referred in the reviews, and I could see why.
    I read this novel along with the Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and although with a very different story and characters, I saw some similarity between Mister/Nettie and Harold/Maureen. It's as if it's never too late to discover something about yourself and others in this mysterious and marvelous world.


    What does Alice Walker bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I had misgivings about audiobooks read by authors and boy, was my prejudice completely shattered! She makes the story sound so real, it's like I'm listening to Sophia raging and the folks yarning and Shug and Squeak singing and everything right nearby.


    If you could rename The Color Purple, what would you call it?

    I can't imaging a better title just yet.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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