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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

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.7 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
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Literary Genius

I had not read/listened to The Color Purple since high school English class. Wow am I glad I went back to it. Alice Walker is one of the greatest authors of our time and this is some of her best work. So amazing.

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Captivating!!

This story brought tears to my eyes more times than I can count. Just Amazing!!!
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  • M.C.
  • Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • 07-19-17

first thirty min. and you're gold

The diary format challenged me just a bit on the uptake, but get through the first half hour or so and you will be hooked. Unforgettable.

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perfection

Loved every single second of it. Trust me its definitely worth buying.
Alice Walker's reading of this made the story come to life. thank YOU

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Great

The movie did this book no justice. Just all around good read and great to listen to

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endearing and lovely

The story is timeless and endearing. So wonderful to hear an author read her own words. I love the movie, but I think I'm more in love with the book now. Truly a great listen.

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Life Lessons Learned

This book is a must-read. Not just for black women, not just for us queer folk, but for straight cisgender people and non-black people as well. Learn another deep part of America's history that has never ever been touched in school, on campus, and probably not even in your family. I'd say most importantly let go of your ego, your comfort, your norms, and really listen. With such beautiful narration, actively listening isn't hard to do. Thank heaven for Alice Walker.

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Great to Listen too!

Love it!! wonderful story about God and a person's personal development. Surprisingly eventful. Would highly recommend.

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Excellent

One of my favorite books of all time. I strongly encourage people to read this book!!

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Only Time Tells....

Would you listen to The Color Purple again? Why?

Of course I would! The Color Purple was a beautiful story. One a the things that this book teaches you is "Even though it seems rough now, keep praying and smiling cause it only gets better".

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

The most memorable moments were the back to back letters being sent from Netty and Celie.

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

The Color Purple....