I could really identify with Gilbert in this book. I have read criticism for her being selfish when it came to her divorce but I can understand why sh...moreI could really identify with Gilbert in this book. I have read criticism for her being selfish when it came to her divorce but I can understand why she was shocked when her ex-husband didn't let things go smoothly. She had been so emotionally checked out from their relationship that she assumed he was as well. I have had similar relationships in the past, so I can completely understand her desire to end things agreeably and then after fighting for years being willing to do anything to just make it stop.
Her Italy portion of the trip sounded like a lot of fun. I can understand her need to go somewhere and recover form the emotional turmoil her divorce had created, and I can't think of a place better than Italy. It's my favorite country to visit, and it's true that Italy has a culture that truly appreciates pleasure.
My favorite part of her three countries was India. I would love to live in an ashram to fully commit myself to my spiritual practice. I found her spiritual journey to be fascinating and similar to what I'm going through currently. I really loved Richard from Texas, he seems like such an unlikely source of profound wisdom. I wish we had experience more of him.
I have also read criticisim about Gilbert falling in love in Indonesia, saying that she hadn't learned anything and that she was still a woman who defined herself by the man she was with. I disagree however. I think she needed to first learn to love herself and to be comfortable with herself before she could be in a relationship and not worry about the implications of her relationship. I think she needed to learn to listen to her heart and love herself enough to not think she deserved to be unhappy because of her guilt. That is something I struggle with, feeling guilty and therefore thinking I don't deserve happiness.
Overall I think this book was a very interesting memoir about a major transitional period in Gilbert's life. I listened to the audio book which is also read by Gilbert. This was a treat because she was reading the book as she spoke it in her head, so we could here her emphasis and conversations as if she were talking directly to us. Also, she did a lot of accents and imitated the voices of the people she actually knew, which helped us as the readers/listeners understand the emotions behind the conversations. (less)
There are two big questions that The Poisonwood Bible raises. First, why does helping people in poverty have to be tied in with religious ambition, an...moreThere are two big questions that The Poisonwood Bible raises. First, why does helping people in poverty have to be tied in with religious ambition, and second, why does religious fervor cause people to forget their common sense? I don’t understand why religion, especially (though not only) evangelical Christianity, causes people to act like Nathan Price. On one hand I’m ok with religion when it acts as a moral compass to guide life decisions that affect only you, and I’m even more ok with it when it guides people to help others out of a desire to be more God/Christ-like. However, what I do have a problem with is when people try and force that religion on others and try and change a person’s culture to make it fit into a prescribed box of what people are “supposed” to be. And when the desire to control other’s and make them just like you takes precedence over the safety and welfare of your family, well then you’ve just gone too far. People need to realize that while you may have chosen a particular path, other people may not choose it. And those other people may indeed be your wife and kids.
Ok, religion rant over, back to the book. I absolutely loved the first two thirds of the book. I loved the culture clash of a middle class white family being thrust into a tribal African culture. I also adored the five different viewpoints of the story. Each character had a distinct voice that added to the overall texture of the story. The African culture in this book is richly presented, with wonderful descriptions that show just how much the Price family was like a fish out of water. It also showed that people have to adapt in order to survive, and some members of the Price family welcomed the change while others fought it tooth and nail.
The last third of the book was when the story started to go downhill for me. Not that the political climate of Africa isn’t fascinating, but I felt myself emotionally disconnecting the more macro the story got. I was more interested in the effects that Nathan’s blind religious zeal had on his family and the African community than sweeping political commentary.
Overall The Poisonwood Bible is about how intolerance and ignorance does nothing but destroy the very thing you’re trying to build. Rigidly following religious doctrine only causes the people you’re trying to help resist you more. In order to bring about change you have to be bending and considerate. Only by understanding that people are allowed to be different can you hope to achieve anything. (less)