*** About the Book ***
I can't think of a way to summarize this so I'm pulling one from Barnes and Noble: Beautifully imagined and deeply compassionate, this is the story of two sisters—one a missionary in Africa and the other a child wife living in the South—who sustain their loyalty to and trust in each other across time, distance, and silence. This classic novel of American literature is rich with passion, pain, inspiration, and an indomitable love of life.
*** Why I Read It ***
I’ve always loved the movie version but I never gave much thought to the book. Then last year I read GONE WITH THE WIND and realized how much more was in the book compared to the movie and I knew I’d have to read THE COLOR PURPLE at some point. When I mentioned that I planned to read it this summer, Nicole from Linus’s Blanket offered to co-host a read-a-long with me.
*** My Thoughts ***
I LOVED THIS BOOK! It is beautifully written, emotionally moving, and a joy to read despite the often depressing content. It is a book that I see myself rereading at some point, in part because it was so good and in part because I'm sure I'll get more out of it each time.
Since I posted discussion questions for the read-a-long I’m just going to use some of them to structure the rest of my review. NOTE: Because this is part of a read-a-long there WILL be spoilers so consider yourself warned.
How do you feel in general about epistolary novels (books told through letters)? Did this format influence your enjoyment of this book in any way? Do you think the story would have had the same impact if it were not told solely through letters?
I usually like epistolary novels and this was no exception. The reader is only treated to the information being shared in the letter which sometimes means that important details or background info is left out. In this book though, Celie is talking to God and to her absent sister and her manner of speaking/writing is quite different than a regular letter to a friend would be. If the book had used a different format to tell the story I don’t think I would have felt Celie’s aloneness so strongly.
Why do you think Celie’s husband hid Nettie’s letters rather than destroying them? Does this choice say anything about who he is as a person?
Having seen the movie, I’ve always felt this was an odd decision – why not simply destroy the letters? But in the book we learn much more about Albert’s life prior to his marriage to Celie and I think his actions regarding the letters are indicative of the man he used to be.
Are there any parts of the book that moved you? Which ones stand out in your mind? Why?
This book made me cry in two places. The first time was when Adam chose to scar his face to prove his love to Tashi – oh what a touching scene that was! And then when Nettie and Celie’s children come walking up the road and Celie realizes who they are … well, I couldn’t stop my tears if I’d wanted to.
How does the book compare to the movie? Was the movie a good adaptation? Did the parts that were left out make a big difference or was the movie a success without them?
I can’t remember the details of the movie compared to the book at this point but I want to rewatch it soon so I can see what is different and what is the same.
In the comment section of my discussion question post Nicole made a comment that really stuck with me. In part she said: I loved the way all of the relationships evolved over time. Most of these characters were literally not able to run away from their circumstances and they had to come to know each other in a different ways in order to change and to start to find peace with themselves. I hadn’t really thought about it but it is very true that Celie had nowhere else to go. Yes, she could have left, but I think that would have severed her dreams of being reunited with Nettie at some point. Celie and Albert and the other characters were for the most part stuck together for better or worse. Some were able to get away but they always came back. Through this close proximity to each other, Celie and Albert were eventually able to come to an understanding and to live in relative ease together.
In short, this is an amazing book and I'm so glad that I read it.
*** Your Thoughts ***
Whether you participated in the read-a-long or not I’d love to hear your thoughts on this book and/or movie.
And remember, Nicole will recap the read-a-long in just a few days on her blog – I hope to see many reviews posted there as well!