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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

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  • Teri
  • Beaverton, OR, United States
  • 04-17-12

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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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.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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A beautiful story, read by the author.

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

Yes, since the true voice of the author (literally) can be heard.

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

Tess of the D'Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy, for all the main character's suffering and personal growth.

Which character – as performed by Alice Walker – was your favorite?

Celie was my favorite. Her voice alone created a true, believable character.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Almost Did Not Download

Because of several negative comments about Alice Walker as the narrator of her book The Color Purple I almost did not download it. I am glad I ignored those comments. The book was well worth the time and Alice Walker did a fine job with the narration, reading her book in a way I thought fitting to the characters and content of the book. Dear God, Thank you for Alice Walker and her book The Color Purple.

10 of 14 people found this review helpful

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AWSOME !!!

Totally different prospective than the movie. Awsome detail on what life was like in that era. Heart wrenching, glad those days are done. Education was the key then and now.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Incredible

Everyone should read this book. Beautifully crafted tale about human ugliness, redemption and forgiveness. Gh

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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So glad I read this book.

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

It's one of the tops. I really liked it a lot. I loved the movie but the book adds just a bit more information that makes it a must read for anyone that likes the movie.

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

There are many but I really loved it when she took over her home that should have been hers years before.

Did Alice Walker do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

In a way she did but I think an actor would have been able to do a better job. Her voice gets a little boring after a while. To Monotone.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

They did make a movie and it was great!

Any additional comments?

I loved the movie and never really thought about reading the book but I sure am glad I did now. I loved it also and feel it added much to the movie. They go hand in hand.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Beautiful story

I got confused about timing since it was hard to tell when some of the letters were written. Celie's children must have been older than Sophie's but often they were made to sound younger.

But overall it was a wonderful story. I loved the ideas about God that were shared. The themes of family and love were ever present. Even forgiveness. There was longing and hope. And there were children--so many I lost track regularly.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful story

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

never read print

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

When she met her children and sister

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

yes

Any additional comments?

I loved this book and was sad when it was over.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful