This story is set in the deep American south, and the narrator (through a series of letters to God and her sister) is Celie, a poor black girl who is raped by her mother’s husband and has her two children taken away. She is later forced into an unhappy marriage and separated from her beloved sister Nettie. Life is hard for Celie, and then she meets Shug Avery, a strong woman who shows Celie that she can take control of her destiny, and that she has unrealised strength.
This is a wonderful and moving book. Celie’s story is heartbreaking in itself, but as well as centering on her personal life, the story also explores the treatment of black people in the South at that time, and, through a series of letters from Nettie, the exploitation of certain tribes in Africa.
Celie’s written English is understandably poor, and often in books, this irritates me, but in this case it really didn’t. Had Celie been able to write perfect English, it would not have seemed believeable. The difference between her and Nettie’s lives is shown in Nettie’s considerably more eloquent letters to Celie.
There are a number of characters who feature prominently in the book, and each and every one of them is entirely believeable and well depicted. The author demonstrates through Celie’s letters why certain characters behave in a certain way, and resists judging them – instead showing how good people do bad things sometimes and vice versa.
Celie is a character who I really cared about during the reading of the book and she will stay with me for a long time. More than anything, this is a book that made me think – and that is never a bad thing.
A recommended read.