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Editorial 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

Critic Reviews

  • Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 1983

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

What a story!

I bought this book entirely on a whim when it was on sale as Audible's daily deal. I just wanted to read something different from the types of books I usually buy.

I was blown away by how great this story is. It's really touching, with great insights into the human condition. The characters are very endearing. I normally don't care for feminist-oriented books (although it may not be accurate for me to call it that) but I've addded this book to my list of favourite fiction without reservation.

It's worth mentioning that I found the description of god (given by the character "Shug") in this book to be probably the most compelling I've ever read.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lauren
  • sarasota, FL, USA
  • 06-12-10

Good Listen

I enjoyed this audio book and did not find the author was slow reading it. I think she was staying in character and that speaking faster would have sounded strange. I loved the way she read the book.

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Beautiful Story

Any additional comments?

I saw the movie before I listened to the book and thought I might be disappointed in the book. I was not. The book was beautiful and the performance was great.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Karen
  • Georgetown, TX, United States
  • 09-13-10

Wonderful

Enjoyed the book, enjoyed the movie, and enjoyed this narrative version. The author is as wonderful a narrator as she is a writer!

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Story
  • onthego21
  • SAINT PAUL, MN, United States
  • 03-26-12

I loved it.

Would you consider the audio edition of The Color Purple to be better than the print version?

I have only ever heard the story, but I can't imagine it being better than the author reading it.

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

I like the fact that the author read the book. It was read as she envisioned it.

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

Dear God...

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Alice Walker Narrates her Classic

"I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back," Alice Walker. One of my favorite quotes of all time.

If you haven't read this book or watched the movie, you must do so. Even if you've done both, you need to listen to it again with Alice Walker narrating. She's an emotive, intelligent, confident and as talented an orator as a writer.

The tragic struggle of Miss Celie to survive, find love and inner strength is relatable to both genders and all races.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Absolutely Wonderful

Where does The Color Purple rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is possibly the best audio book I have ever listened to (and I have listened to quite a few).

What did you like best about this story?

Despite the controversy that has surrounded this book regarding Walker's representation of men, to me the book is, at its core, about faith and spirituality. Walker's preface says it all: "Whatever else The Color Purple has been taken for during the years since its publication, it remains for me the theological work examining the journey from the religious back to the spiritual that I spent much of my adult life, prior to writing it, seeking to avoid." The story of Celie's brokeness and the courage to believe in life's beauty she finds through her relationship with Shug Avery is one of the most inspiring and uplifitng tales I have ever read. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, I can honestly say that, in a small way, this book changed my life.

What about Alice Walker’s performance did you like?

Alice Walker's performance exemplifies, for me, what an audio book is at its best. Her cadence, emphasis, and emotion are all perfectly measured and timed. Her voice breathes life into the characters. In rereading the novel, I find myself hearing Walker's voice in my mind. I can remember the exact way she phrased particular sentences, so much so that the words seem to leave the page and enter my imagination as spoken voices. <br/>

Any additional comments?

I cannot say enough good things about this book, and particularly the audio book version narrated by Walker. It's beautiful, life-changing, worth listening to and re-listening, reading and re-reading.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Simply The Best

The Color Purple is such an important novel for us. Us women, us people, us survivors, us people who are here. Love it from the opening lines to the very last words. Alice Walker word dances the souls of her characters across a story that will make you see God, life, living and loss in a different way.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Exceptional!!!

I've loooooved the movie ever since I first watched it. I've seen it over a dozen times, but never actually read the book. After seeing the play a couple of days ago, I wanted to buy the book but didn't have the patience to wait for it in the mail. I'm sooooo glad I got to "read" it through Audible in the author's own voice. So sad it's over.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Beautifully read, beautifully told

What made the experience of listening to The Color Purple the most enjoyable?

I loved hearing Alice walkers voice coming through in the characters. She knew the voice and timing of the character and brought out the syntax and authentic intelligence of the character.

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

The character learns of sexuality and that's a humorous and love of life filled moment. When we first learn of the letters. Well I won't give it away.

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

Not sure. She's an actress though as well as being a fine writer.

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

Yeah. I was on a car trip.

Any additional comments?

A classic. But you get something important out of the audio format.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful