Author: Barbara Kingsolver
Published By: Harper Perennial
Date Published: June 2008
Genre: Contemporary Literature
Recommended For: Adult
Review By: K
Purchased Book for Book Club
Summary (From Amazon):
The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of
Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to
the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they
will need from home, but soon find that all of it—from garden seeds to
Scripture—is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a
suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction
over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.
It's very difficult for me to review this book. I want to be fair, so please understand that this is not a book I would have chosen for myself and therefore I may not have the best insight.
That being said, I can't say that I disliked the book. I think if you enjoy books about missionaries in Africa, you will absolutely LOVE this book. The author added another dimension of interest by telling the story from 5 different perspectives. Africa is portrayed through the eyes of a bitter mother all the way down to the eyes of the youngest daughter- only 5 yrs old. The beginning of the book, narrated by the mother, tells you that one of the children die in Africa- I think that is what kept me going, trying to figure out which one of them it was going to be.
This realistic tale of family drama, misguided good deeds, and trying to relate to a completely different culture was brutally honest and true to life. It was both painful and compelling at the same time. Personally I would have rated it a 3, I expected the story to end when they finally got out of Africa- but it continued on through the adult lives of the children (which for me dragged it down). Also, I didn't like where everyone ended up in the end. Is it not possible anymore for normalcy to come out of chaos? Having a crazy upbringing does not mean you have to become some brand of crazy extremist yourself. I think someone who would enjoy this genre would rate it much higher.
The caliber of writing and the excellent storytelling would place this novel in the 4-5 range.
It took me a little while to settle into the readers voice, I think that is mostly because I started reading it on my own and then added the audible.com version to my Kindle. I loved the southern twang of the readers voice and her expression, especially when reading Ruth May's chapters. She captured the different attitudes and perspectives of each character well.
It does take a little while to figure out who each of the characters are though, so I recommend trying to familiarize yourself with the names a bit before listening to the rest or you may get confused.