A few months ago I was down in Seattle visiting fellow cast member and close friend, Alex, who was in town for the week catching up with family and friends since his move down to LA. During this trip Alex passed along my late birthday and Christmas gift, The Color Purple by Alice Walker– both the book and the film! Alex and I have been discussing this story for years, especially since our girl, Oprah, made her film debut and garnered an Academy Award nomination for her epic portrayal of either Sophia or Celie (I am guessing as I have yet to watch the film).
I recently wrapped up the book – as I definitely believe in reading a story before watching the film adaptation – and I was incredibly surprised with how much I fell in love with this story. I’ll admit, I wasn’t familiar with the storyline or even the writing style of Alice Walker prior to cracking open the pages of the book. Honestly, all Alex and I would talk about was how I had to read the book and watch the film; he never gave me any details or further explanation. The opening chapter began with the statement, “Dear God”, and instantly touched me. The protagonist, Celie, is deeply religious and has consistently turned to God to carry her through the hardships she has experienced as a black woman living in a time when that fate in live was the lowest ranking on the human totem pole.
The story walks the reader through Celie’s life as a young girl alongside her sister, Nettie. The girls are eventually driven apart due to life’s circumstances, and are moved to write letters back and forth. Sadly, neither letter truly reaches the intended receiving sister, and instead each woman is left to write believing that the other is still out in the world, somewhere. Seriously, I just got chills writing that line. The path that each sister travels was so inspirational and heartbreaking in the same stroke. Celie undoubtedly was dealt the harder life, dealing with a stepfather who continuously molested her, eventually bearing her children that we torn away from her and sent away, similar to her sister.
From there, the story takes an even more devastating turn with Celie being married off to a man who refuses to respect her, and believes that discipline is the one way to show a woman her place in life. She eventually opens her heart up to a ladyfriend of the man she is married to, and this sub plot is one of the most inspiring and moving elements of this incredible book.
The complete story nearly travels the complete life history of Celie, spanning several decades, and her continual tragic pace through life. There were moments when I had to lay the book on my chest after audibly sighing, to rest my mind for a second and collect my emotions. This book was absolutely riveting, and the epitome of emotional tragedy with a dash of incredible perseverance. I can’t begin to thank Alex enough for recommending this book and bringing this story into my life. It has rightfully earned it’s place among some of my all time favorite books and will definitely be on my list of gift-able books over the next few years.
To be honest, I could sit here for hours and pour out the complete storyline, recollecting each incredible twist of fate in both Celie and Nettie’s story. But then, I would simply ruin it for anyone who has yet to open him or herself to this brilliant tale. With that, I will provide you with the coverlet description to provide you with a few more details of the incredible story that unfolds;
Published to unprecedented acclaim, The Color Purple established Alice Walker as a major voice in modern fiction. 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. Beautifully imagines and deeply compassionate, this classic novel of American literature is rich with passion, pain, inspiration, and an indomitable love of life.
Whosh. I got choked up reading/writing that paragraph as those words instantly took me back to the pages and story, and Walker’s words.
If you’re a reader, you must add this gem of literature to your list of favorites as well.
Since this book doesn’t have it’s own specific website, I encourage you to check out the Wikipedia page dedicated to The Color Purple. That is, only if you truly want to learn the intricate details of the story prior to reading the story yourself.