Do you sometimes sit back and think about a wonderful book that you loved and which had a great impact on you when you were younger? Sometimes you have to re-read that classic as an adult to fully appreciate its magic again, and that’s exactly what our book contributor, Vanessa Thomas did with the classic, The Color Purple.

The Colour Purple

Alice Walker’s monumental 1982 novel sold more than one million copies to date in the UK, won the coveted Pulitzer Prize (first black woman to win), was turned into an award-winning screenplay and most recently a musical. It is a book cherished by many, and one of the few pieces of black literature in the British curriculum.

If you, like me, last read it a decade ago, or *whispers* not at all, add it to your bookshelf immediately.

The masterpiece is set in the American South in the 1930s, the novel starts unforgettably with teenager Celie enduring abuse at the hands of her father. Celie eventually gets out of the abusive household, however continuing in this traumatic vain, she is pushed from the pot to the fire, marrying Alphonso.

Walker does not hold back and much of the book explores really troubling themes, like physical and sexual abuse, segregation, poverty and the general plight of being black (particularly a black woman) in America.

The Colour Purple
Alice Walker

You may well ask how has such a book stayed so loved and for so long? Well, despite the trauma, Walker is a phenomenal author who writes in a deeply moving way. Written in the vernacular of the time, Walker is still able to draw you into the characters, with compelling lines like this: “But I don’t know how to fight. All I know how to do is stay alive”.

Finally, despite all the distress, although Celie doesn’t learn how to “fight” what’s beautiful is seeing her character develop and blossom as she reclaims her power and personal joy, with the book ending beautifully: “Matter of fact, I think this the youngest us ever felt”.

The Color Purple is one of the most important books of the 20th Century, and an absolute must for your book collection.

Buy The Color Purple here


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