It began with Celie. Writing letters to God. Under the strong instruction from her father never to tell anyone but God about his abuse, that is who Celie turns to.
This book is written in the form of correspondence, an exchange of letters that as often as not doesn't end up being read by the intended readers for most of a lifetime.
There is abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, pain that no one should have to go through. They go through it. Celie is a strong enough person to realise that her father might not stop with her, and feels protective of her younger sister.
'Sometime he still be looking at Nettie, but I always git in his light. Now I tell her to marry Mr. _____. I don't tell her why. I say Marry him, Nettie, an try to have one good year out your life. After that, I know she be big.'
Celie delivered children of her father, children who were cast away, presumably dead (although Celie has the intuition to know better).
Celie put up with separation from loved ones, and a loveless, unfaithful marriage, playing second-fiddle to a more flamboyant mistress, Shug Avery. And Celie was raised not to know she deserved better.
She deserved better.
Shug Avery ironically was one who helped teach her that. There was a friendship beyond words that developed, a realisation of humanity and caring beyond the abuses of the world; Shug was neglected by her father, a pain that cut her almost as deep as Celie's pain.
But Celie found out something. Alphonso, her Pa, wasn't her Pa--he was a step. The children weren't to be shunned. The worst sin was mitigated just a bit.
And Celie and Nettie found out more. The land and house belonged to them, not to 'Pa', but rather their real daddy, who left it to them and their mother.
This is a painful story. It is a hopeful story.