Oct 5, 2007

The Poisonwood Bible

by Barbara Kingsolver

In the 1960's Nathan Price, a Baptist minister, drags his family from Georgia to the Congo with the intent of converting the native "heathens" to Christianity. Arriving in the steaming jungle, they find themselves woefully unprepared to live there. Nathan's insistence on bringing the Congolese to Jesus without understanding them first is ultimately doomed to failure. The story is told in five voices: those of the mother and four daughters (three teens and a five-year-old), each with their own distinct style and personality. The different ways in which they all try to adjust to their new situation in a tiny African village is a telling story all by itself, humorous and tragic by turns. When political turmoil causes all the other missionaries to leave Africa, Nathan Price stubbornly refuses to go. His inflexibility and religious zeal bordering on fanaticism alienates the villagers and eventually his own family as well.

I absolutely love The Poisonwood Bible. It is brilliantly written. The language use is beautiful, the characters very realistic. It is a strong and vivid portrait of Africa in a time of struggle for independence. This is the kind of book that makes you really think. Each time I read it there are new details and things to ponder that I didn't notice before. It has some heavy themes, but the wry humor and wonderful descriptions of Africa and its people make it a joy to read.

Rating: 5/5 ........ 543 pages, 1998

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5 comments:

terra said...

I have a friend from South Africa who has lived and worked in the Congo. He tells me that this book is a very good description of what things are really like deep in the heart of Africa. I could not put the book down and am sure that I will read it many times in my life.

Jeane said...

I think I've read it four or five times already, it is so good and every time I see something new. The descriptions felt very real to me, I'm pleased to hear they are accurate.

Wanda said...

Was this book really 543 pages long? It's been a few years since I've read it but I absolutely loved The Poisonwood Bible; it didn't seem lengthy at all!

Jeane said...

Wanda- I have a hardbound copy that has that many pages. The story flows so well it doesn't feel lengthy at all.

Elemillia Ucselub said...

This book is really brilliant. I have to agree with you on that one. I enjoyed reading your take on it, maybe you'd like to check out mine?

http://personalliterarybookfrenzy.blogspot.com/2012/03/poisonwood-bible.html