Tag Archives: english literature

BOOK REVIEW: The Color Purple, by Alice Walker

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it” (p.177)

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The Color Purple by Alice Walker is a bildungsroman about Celie, a young black girl in the south of America between the wars. She grew up in difficult circumstances, raped by her father, separated from her children and her sister and cornered into an oppressive marriage, but, without giving too much away, it does end happily!

This book was actually recommended to me by my mother, and I began reading it pretty much as a favour to her. I found myself swallowing it whole – I read the entire thing in one day and I absolutely loved it. It is an incredibly rare find, a book that enables the reader to build an intimate relationship with the protagonist. The book is formed of a series of letters written by Celie, at first addressed to God, and then to her sister, Nettie. The intimacy of these private letters is enhanced by Walker’s presentation of Celie’s dialect, the subtle nuances of Walker’s writing means that we can not only read about the changes that Celie is going through, but also feel them in the beat and rhythm of the words. As a result, Walker creates an undeniably strong and honest voice that can hardly be contained in the pages of the novel.

Another thing that Alice Walker does well, through this manufactured intimacy, is to give Celie’s revelations a resonance that reverberate through the reader’s own life. Almost at the peak of Celie’s personal development she loses all faith in the God that she envisions, a societal construct. After all that she has been through, such a loss of faith feels natural, and elicits nothing but empathy from the reader. It is her friend and love, Shug Avery, who tells Celie that “God is everything … Everything that is or ever was or ever will be. And when you can feel that, and be happy to feel that, you’ve found it” (p.176). Walker seeks to recapture the spirituality of religion, the existence of God in not only people, but nature and feeling and everything. 

To me the novel is about freedom. It features a voice and an inward spirituality that cannot be contained, a love that cannot be extinguished, sisters that will not be kept apart, and a woman that will not be oppressed. I feel as if it freed something within myself, and I will endeavour never to walk past the colour purple without noticing it again.

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An apology

I haven’t blogged at all since my first post!

I started my blog at the worst possible time, a week before the revision cram began for my exams! But the exams are done, the coursework is all handed in and I am finally home for the summer, with a lovely 2:1 for my second year of English Literature at the University of Portsmouth.

I am unbelievably excited to be able to read for pleasure for the next couple months, I’ve got a big pile of books to get through so expect a lot of reviews. I read The Color Purple by Alice Walker yesterday, so I’ll review that one later on today.

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About Me

Hello there!

I’m new to this blogging lark, but for a while now I’ve wanted to set one up in order to document my efforts of breaking into the publishing industry, for personal reflections and perhaps the odd review. So here we are. I’m a second year English Literature student at the University of Portsmouth, and publishing is all I’ve wanted to do since I read Little Women at the age of six (yes, six). I am yet to find any work experience in the industry – I am finding it much more difficult, and much more competitive, than first anticipated. But, having said that, I have a very useful contact ‘on the inside’ who will hopefully prove extremely valuable! Watch this space!

In an effort to fabricate work experience of my own, I founded my own company in first year called High Kings. I write CV’s and proofread student’s essays and dissertations. It has been an interesting experience, enabling me to hone my proofreading skills and improve my ability to manipulate words. This year I was taken aback by how busy the company kept me, particularly in the last few weeks, when dissertation deadlines were looming, so hopefully next year I will be able to hire a couple of students to help out!

I like most types of literature, early modern drama (like Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Massinger) being my favourite. I also particularly enjoy Victorian literature. There is definitely something to be said for the ‘classics’ – they possess a certain grace, a refined and elevated tone. Though to be honest, I read most things. My course covers a wide range of genres and a large number of books!

Apart from my fondness for books, I’m pretty normal. I was the social sec for my university’s student radio, I’m an executive course representative for English Literature, and founder and president of the English Literature society. I am competitive and determined, and I have a deep and desperate desire to move to New York city when I graduate. I play hockey at university, which I enjoy immensely, and I love salt and vinegar squares and diet coke.

Look me up on twitter, if you like: @beckycmcnamara

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