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The Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker

The Temple of My Familiar (original 1989; edition 2004)

by Alice Walker

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1,856153,724 (3.78)34
Title:The Temple of My Familiar
Authors:Alice Walker
Info:Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ) (2004), Paperback, 432 pages
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The Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker (1989)



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great novel @ 500,000 years Black History + romances, marriages, women who have lived many lives before - great ideas
museums - other peoples booty
colleges for consumers
Burden child w/ unbearable history

It is the story of the dispossessed and displaced, of peoples whose history is ancient and whose future is yet to come. Here we meet Lissie, a woman of many pasts; Arveyda the great guitarist and his Latin American wife who has had to flee her homeland; Suwelo, the history teacher, and his former wife Fanny who has fallen in love with spirits. Hovering tantalisingly above their stories are Miss Celie and Shug, the beloved characters from THE COLOUR PURPLE.
  christinejoseph | Nov 14, 2015 |
Not a badly written book, but I couldn't get into it. Introspective characters and a meandering journey of self discovery, isn't really my thing. ( )
  Lostshadows | Mar 21, 2015 |
Alice Walker has created memorable characters in her epic novel, The Temple of My Familiar. The author uses a personal-storytelling technique where the characters present their own life history by telling it���at times, a little long-winded���to another character whose life is emotionally intertwined with theirs. Magic realist elements are used to bring us to various continents and back to past time periods in the character���s life where they struggled with the classic issues of women���s emancipation and racial discrimination. It is through the moral revisiting and questioning of past wrongs that the characters must come to terms with their present reality and move forward.
An important novel, almost historical in its presentation of the great emotional issues that have troubled us till this day.
( )
  BooksUncovered | Feb 17, 2015 |
African-American writer, Alice Walker’s website provides a brief biography. It reads, in part, “Alice Walker is an internationally celebrated author, poet and activist whose books include seven novels, four collections of short stories, four children’s books, and volumes of essays and poetry. She’s best known for The Color Purple, the 1983 novel for which she won the Pulitzer Prize—the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction—and the National Book Award. (http://alicewalkersgarden.com/about-2/).

I read some of Walker’s works in a women writer’s class in grad school, and I found The Color Purple extremely moving. The persistence and courage of Celie inspired me in a number of ways. The Temple of My Familiar came my way at the urging of a close friend. What I found was something quite different from Purple.

Rather than read this novel, it needs to be experienced. Yes, the story is convoluted, with an amazing array of characters and time periods, with love and hate, fear and courage, but at the end, characters who possessed the same persistence Walker gave us in The Color Purple. A map of the family and its shifting relationships would most definitely assist a reader.

One interesting character, Fanny, married to an African man, Suwelo, has visions of historical characters. Suwelo is a history teacher, and he is skeptical that spirits actually contact Fanny. He researches one, Chief John Horse, and finds Fanny has described his life in meticulous detail. Suwelo once asked her about the spirits. “What do you love about these people?” (186). Fanny replies,

“I dunno. They open doors inside me. It’s as if they’re keys. To rooms inside myself. I find a door inside and it’s as if I hear a humming from behind it, and then I get inside somehow, with the key the old ones give me, (…) and as I stumble about in the darkness of the room, I begin to feel the stirring in myself, the humming in the room, and my heart starts to expand with the absolute feeling of bravery, or love, or audacity, or commitment. It becomes a light, and the light enters me, by osmosis, and a part of me that was not clear before is clarified. I radiate this expanded light. Happiness. / And that, Suwelo knew, was called ‘being in love’” (186).

Another character, Lissie, remembers in great detail all of her past lives – from a childhood in Africa, to one during the middle passage, through to one as slavery ended and another during the civil rights movement of the 60s.

Some novels require a great deal of patience and close reading. Not all are worth that extra effort, but Alice Walker’s Temple of my Familiar most certainly is. The only flaw involved rapid shifts of time and place, which I found confusing. Despite this, I did not invoke my rule of 50, and my persistence paid off. One chapter explains the life of Lissie, and it all fell into place. 5 stars

--Jim, 8/11/13 ( )
  rmckeown | Sep 1, 2013 |
This is a strange, amazing, mythical-proportioned multi-threaded tale. You may need a map to navigate it, and the ending is rather anti-climactic (ahem) but some of the pieces of it are just amazing. Also, it's like a sequel to "Color Purple," in a way. ( )
  amaraduende | Mar 30, 2013 |
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Three couples, two in crisis, talk about themselves and reconstruct the missing pieces of the past and in the end, they deeply affect one another. Transcending the conventions of time and place, Walker's novel moves from contemporary America, England, and Africa to unfamiliar primal worlds, where women, men, and animals socialize in surprising ways. The author of The Color Purple has created a mesmerizing novel of vision and spirit.… (more)

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