Published by Pocket on April 1st 2004
Genres: Friendship, Historical
Source: Owned Audible Book
The Color Purple is a 1982 epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction. It was later adapted into a film and musical of the same name.
Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of color in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture. The novel has been the frequent target of censors and appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000-2009 at number seventeen because of the sometimes explicit content, particularly in terms of violence.
I love audio books. In the author’s notes on the audio version of Joe Hill’s NOS4A2, he talks about how the first stories we learn are read to us. I listen to audio books when I’m in the car, shopping, and playing Candy Crush Soda Saga or Trivia Crack.
In typical book blogger fashion, I already have a tbr shelf just for audio books. Reviewing them is a bit more difficult, because I don’t take notes and I don’t always know how to spell the characters names. So these reviews will be a little different from my book reviews.
I tried to read this book once when I was in middle school, but I think the trauma of the first few pages was enough to make me hold off on finishing it. It was always at the back of my mind, that some day I needed to read The Color Purple (or at least watch the movie, but I’ve only caught glimpses of it). Then Audible had a sale (I swear, over half my audiobook reviews have started off like this), and I snagged it. Since June of 2014, it’s sat on my Audible TBR… because why should I not buy more audiobooks than I can listen to at once anymore than I keep my physical tbr under control?
Partly because I’m a mood reader and partly because my audio TBR is so big and mostly because I’m trying to listen to the audiobooks I’ve had the longest, a few weeks okay I finally decided I was ready for The Color Purple. And I’m so glad I did!
The book starts out pretty bleak. Celie is abused and used, has her children taken from her, married off to a man who doesn’t want her in order to protect her sister, and spends years and years being fairly miserable. But it’s also about finding love in unexpected places, and unlike the movie, it most definitely focuses on Celie’s romantic and physical relationship with the singer Shug Avery- a woman who is much ahead of the times. I gather the movie doesn’t really delve into Celie being a lesbian and Shug being bisexual, which is a shame because their relationship in the book is the very best part and so integral to Celie awakening to realizing that what she wants should matter in life.
Even with all of the horrible things Celie and her sister and other character’s endure, there is something so hopeful and lovely in this story. Celie grows so much, learns her worth, her strengths, her weaknesses, the power of love and forgiveness. She’s definitely a character who has found a home in my heart (and I totally wouldn’t mind if she made me a pair of pants, because seriously, they sound awesome) (I also want to hang out in Harpo’s juke joint).
Nettie’s letters and her life in Africa were such a great addition to the novel (and it’s here that Celie’s sacrifices are shown to have paid off). And while this is Celie’s story, I also loved Sofia- how strong and stubborn she was, and Squeak with her lovely voice and helping to raise Sofia’s children. I liked Mister’s transformation into Albert- and how Celie turned him down because at the end, a frog is still a frog. 😉 And I have a soft spot for Harpo.
This was by far my favorite read of March, and I look forward to re-reading it already!
Alice Walker narrates. Author narrations are always hit and miss with me, but Alice totally brings the characters and the 1930’s Georgia setting to life. It was beautiful narration, and it made me so glad I bought the audiobook.