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Purple Hibiscus [Hardcover]

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (150 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Mar 2004

A haunting tale of an Africa and an adolescence undergoing tremendous changes from the talented bestseller and award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Fifteen-year-old Kambili's world is circumscribed by the high walls of her family compound and the frangipani trees she can see from her bedroom window. Her wealthy Catholic father, although generous and well-respected in the community, is repressive and fanatically religious at home. Her life is lived under his shadow and regulated by schedules: prayer, sleep, study, and more prayer. She lives in fear of his violence and the words in her textbooks begin to turn to blood in front of her eyes.

When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili's father, involved in mysterious ways with the unfolding political crisis, sends Kambili and her brother away to their aunt's. The house is noisy and full of laughter. Here she discovers love and a life – dangerous and heathen – beyond the confines of her father's authority. The visit will lift the silence from her world and, in time, reveal a terrible, bruising secret at the heart of her family life.

This first novel is about the promise of freedom; about the blurred lines between the old gods and the new; between childhood and adulthood; between love and hatred. An extraordinary debut, ‘Purple Hibiscus’ is a compelling novel which captures both a country and an adolescence at a time of tremendous change.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; First Edition, First Printing edition (1 Mar 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007176112
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007176113
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.8 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (150 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 286,696 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Nigeria in 1977. Her first novel 'Purple Hibiscus' was published in 2003 and was longlisted for the Booker Prize. Her second novel 'Half of a Yellow Sun' won the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction. Her work has been selected by the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association and the BBC Short Story Awards, has appeared in various literary publications, including Zoetrope and The Iowa Review. She won a MacArthur 'genius' grant in 2009, and in 2010 appeared on the New Yorker's list of the best 20 writers under 40.

Product Description


'A beautiful and often harrowing story.' Observer Books of the Year

‘A sensitive and touching story of a child exposed too early to religious intolerance and the uglier side of the Nigerian state.’ J. M. Coetzee

‘Political brutality and domestic violence, religion and witchcraft all merge with subtle force in this memorable novel. Chimammanda Ngozi Adichie uses childhood innocence to write Nigerian history with the eye of a family insider.’ Hugo Hamilton

‘“Purple Hibiscus” is the best debut I've read since Arundhati Roy's “The God of Small Things”.’ Jason Cowley, Literary Editor of the New Statesman

‘This debut ensnares the reader from the first page and lingers in the memory…in soft, searing voice, Adichie examines the complexities of family, faith and country through the haunted but hopeful eyes of a young girl on the cusp of womanhood.’ Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Nigeria in 1977. Her first novel ‘Purple Hibiscus’ was published in 2003 and was longlisted for the Booker Prize. Her second novel ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ won the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction. Her short story collection, ‘The Thing Around Your Neck’, was published to critical acclaim in 2009. Her work has been selected by the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association and the BBC Short Story Awards, has appeared in various literary publications, including Zoetrope and The Iowa Review. She won a MacArthur ‘genius’ grant in 2009, and in 2010 appeared on the New Yorker’s list of the best 20 writers under 40. Her third novel, ‘Americanah’, was published to widespread critical acclaim in 2013. She lives in Nigeria.

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First Sentence
Things started to fall apart at home when my brother, Jaja, did not go to communion and Papa flung his heavy missal across the room and broke the figurines on the etagere. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Addictive but challenging 6 Jan 2006
I can't remember the last time I read a book and could not put it down. The characters are absorbing, the story harrowing and unpredictable. The portrait of Nigeria is so detailed and accurate yet challenging in the way it celebrates both its good and bad parts. The descriptions of abuse are difficult to read but add to story's impact in the correct way; they are added not to make the story appealing but real in a way that is difficult to describe. A truly excellent book that wasn't what I expected at all.
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73 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning 5* read! 13 Feb 2005
By sunnylanes VINE VOICE
I picked this book up intending to read a few pages in just to see what I thought and actually hardly put it down again until I had finished it.
It is a fantastic insight into life in Nigeria in unsettled political times with the overarching conflict of the Catholic religion versus indigenous faiths almost subsuming everything else.
Kambili and Jaja's father is a prosperous and generous Catholic businessman respected and revered in the wider community for his support of charities yet behind closed doors he is a despotic, controlling and ultimately extremely violent man.
Helpless and seemingly powerless, the family can do nothing but tolerate Papa's violence which despite it's brutality still does nothing to affect their love for him until finally and very unexpectedly the power does shift.Adichie creates the family who have everything yet have nothing and then contrasts them powerfully with another branch of the family who seemingly have nothing yet have it all and it works.
She delineates fear superbly;the reader really feels and lives what this family are going through.There is a wonderful intermingling of local dialect within the narrative that grounds this book very firmly in Nigeria and much of the beauty and hardship of the country is clearly described in a flowing and atmospheric style.
Despite the stomach-churning physical abuse that almost moves you to tears for many reasons ,I found this an ultimately very satisfying read.
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60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, heartwrenching, excellent. 16 May 2006
Read by our bookclub, this book produced enthusiastic reviews.

Teenage Kambili tells her story. Gradually we begin to see the cracks in a family that outwardly appears prosperous and loving. The children are painfully subserviant, less than first place in school provokes serious repercussions. The mother has repeated miscarriages while the father is the village philanthropist.

After a visit to her Aunt Ifeoma and her three cousins, Kambili starts to see things as they really are; the life she thought normal starts to become frightening.

The threatening thing about the situation is the power of the church and the Catholic religion, used as an excuse to inflict terrible punishment for percieved misdemeanors. Also the power of other people's opinions and maintaining a position within the village.

It's a book that you won't want to put down, but some passages are quite distressing.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Everything good bad and ugly about my home 6 Mar 2005
By A Customer
I walked into Waterstones to buy (nigerian) Helen Oyeyemis book 'Icarus Girl' and saw this. I had no idea what it was about when I bought it - but am I glad I did!
Ngozi Adichie wrote this when she was 'longing for home'. She was experiencing a cold harsh winter in America where she gazed outside her window and saw nothing but a blanket of snow. Living as a Nigerian in the UK, I indentify with that feeling, with 'longing for home'. Reading this book felt like going home.
The story is about Kambili, an ibo teenager in eastern nigeria and is set against the backdrop of century-long nigerian 'issues' - religion (catholicism v indigenous traditions), politics (military dictatorships and a sycophantic society vs truth, freedom and democracy), child abuse, teenage experiences, family, wealth, lack, love and loyalty. It'll take you back, make you squirm, make you cry if like me, you've experienced some of these issues.
if you havent, by reading it, you'll get a much clearer exposition of modern day nigeria and africa than any 'bbc tv documentary' will ever show you.
read this!
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative 23 Mar 2004
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Purple Hibiscus is an evocative and beautifully written novel. Kambili the narrator, tells a story of a privileged childhood in Nigeria but overshadowed by a domestic violence which mirrors the violence of politics. Through getting to know her aunt and cousins (who live in much less favourable circumstances) Kambili comes to understand what normal family relationships are - love, laughter, intelligent discussion, outbursts of temper. These are things which, despite a loving mother and brother, Kambili had never experienced due to her fanatically religious father who ruled his family with an iron rod - and violence. Fortunately the narrator does see another side of the Church in the charming and perceptive Fr. Amadi. The novel comes to a very unexpected conclusion.
The writing is extraordinarily mature and beautifully understated. I do hope Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will be inspired to write further novels and congratulate her on this wonderful first book.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Electrifying read 16 Aug 2007
By Sitizi
Purple Hibiscus is a beautiful story. The plot is based on a 14 year-old who grew up under the stifling patronage of a stern father. Her domineering father frequently physically abused his family alongside her, creating terror at home and stunting the psychological growth of his children. Against the backdrop of the deterioration of the socio-economic and political life of Nigeria as it undergoes a military coup, the life Kambili knows is shattered and she has to seek for refuge in the home of her aunt. Kambili the sheltered but highly restricted child, who never thought of herself as lucky and who had earlier been absconded by her peers and cousin because of her supposedly privileges, learns to assert herself and becomes a beloved character, a character who easily understood the plight of those around her.. Kambili at first came to terms with her father as someone who regarded himself as a pillar of the community and someone she genuinely loved. Even the emotional and physical pains he inflicted are seen only as a gesture of love for her own good, but later she comes to consider his actions as abnormal. With its vivid portrayal of Nigerian life, and brilliant dissection of the characters , this novel moves at a pace which is electrifying.Also recommended:HALF OF A YELLOW SUN, THE USURPER AND OTHER STORIES,that I enjoyed this summer.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read...!!
After reading Americanah, this book started off to a slow start. The story however picks up around the middle and gets really interesting. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Bridge04
4.0 out of 5 stars Another brilliant read
This book made me laugh and cry. It sucked me in until I dreamt about it. A very moving book.
Published 12 days ago by Mrs. T. F. Johnston-N'dour
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading
Read this as part of book club and really glad to discover it. I found it hard to put down but it is not a comfortable escapism read . Read more
Published 14 days ago by SA
5.0 out of 5 stars Purple Hibiscus
This is a remarkable book for a first novel and I look forward to reading Adichie's other work. It is honest and does not grab for easy answers. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Stellar
3.0 out of 5 stars Takes a while to get going
Hmmm, depends what you like. There is a lot of action in chapter one, but after that it requires a bit of patience. Also a bit anti-Catholic, I think. Read more
Published 26 days ago by Miss Understood
5.0 out of 5 stars Life is the same and different everywhere
I saw this amazing woman speak last week and was massively impressed. I perhaps like her later books better but this is still hard to put down.
Published 1 month ago by C Rix
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Better than Americanah.
This is a Very interesting and engaging book. It kept reminding me so much of my childhood.
Published 1 month ago by Vee
4.0 out of 5 stars powerful, absorbing
This is a complex story beautifully told in such a way as to hold you enthralled to the last word. It is the story of a family, religion and a young girls first sexual stirrings... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Colleen
5.0 out of 5 stars informative
A very important read for everyone. It is wonderfully written and has lovely and powerful imagery. I was really glad I read it.
Published 2 months ago by many one
4.0 out of 5 stars Purple hibiscus
Interesting, bullying religious father, a lot of the book was spent in a family members house.
Not the most exciting book I have read
Published 2 months ago by gaynor hales
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