The Color Purple by Alice Walker

February’s book for the Shared Shelf book club.

First published in 1982.

Told through letters to God and then to her sister Nettie, our protagonist Celie shows despair and loneliness as Walker uses her voice to show the harshness and difficulty of being a black woman in the 1920’s in America.

The novel displays the violence and distance that surrounded the relationships between men and women. This becomes one the main focuses in the novel; the role of the dominating male fighting women’s independence through abuse and disaffection.

Whilst some may criticise the use of a local dialect and illiterate manner of speaking by the characters, but Walker uses it to authentically portray the education and social position of the characters to the reader.

With the clumsily written letters to God, it gives a sense of need that Celie has to get these half words onto paper so someone knows what is happening. Even if that is a God that you are never sure if she wholeheartedly worshipping at the beginning of the novel. It also brings attention to the almost confessional nature of the letter. Almost as if she is taking blame for the sins of all those around her as well as her own.

It is difficult to write anything of original meaning about a book so widely advocated by those with stronger voices than mine.


Read January’s book at :


Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch


The Name of the Wind by Peter Rothfuss


  1. Thanks for posting. I read this book a few years ago and looking back I think the letter format works well – it keeps the pace up and facilitates the confessional honesty you describe. I read this at the same time as ‘I know why the caged bird sings’ and found both extremely moving (if distressing at times).

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