The Color Purple is what you might call a difficult book to read. It doesn’t hold back with its descriptions or language or story or anything. It is dark, harsh and unforgiving, but there are regular flashes of warm, gentle beauty. Our heroine is anything but: Celie is a shy, beaten down teenager, married off to a man in love with someone else, who over the years will continue to repress and abuse her until she’s little more than a shell. The narrative explores racism, female friendship, religion, lesbianism and unrequited love; it’s anything but a light read.
It’s also one of those books that throws its worst at you with the first few pages, as if it’s testing the reader to see if they can handle it. If you can get past the first ten pages or so, you’ll manage the book. It’s hard going, but really rewarding. There will be those who don’t enjoy it, who don’t want to expose themselves to the negativity and the cruelty and the abuse and the coarse language, and I can definitely see why, but I was glad that I pushed through. The journey that Celie goes on is incredibly inspiring and beautiful, and when you start to see her personality and her strength come through, it brings a whole new dimension to what you’re reading. It stops being a fictional misery memoir and becomes a story about a beautiful woman with a spark inside her that just won’t go out.