Ann's Reviews > The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
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's review
Jul 13, 2010

really liked it
Read in July, 2010

I finally got over my annoyance with Barbara Kingsolver (for her holier than though book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" and decided to read this -- which I had read good reviews about.

I did enjoy the book, especially since she mostly concentrated her "holier than thou" attittude into a fervent mssionary, Nathan Price, who goes to the former Belgian Congo, determined to bring the natives to God -- whether they want to be brought or not! Despite being advised by other missionaries and the tribal chief to compromise and to learn to understand the culture and incorporate it, he ignores their advice -- to his and his family's demise. I have visions of him screaming "Tata Jesus is bangala!! -- by which he means "Lord Jesus is precious" -- but he does not quite get the accent correct and it is translated into "Lord Jesus is poisonwood!! (and hence never will the Africans embrace this religion -- and perhaps also because he wants to baptise the children in the crocodile infested river!!)

The story is told aterantely by his wife and 4 daughters who give their different take on him, on their mother and sisters and on Africa and religion.

Kingsolver winds in a lot of the history of the Congo, Belgian rule, independence, corruption. And she brings her holier than thou attitude to her stand on the politics and organization of the country.

Depite that, it is a fascinating book -- well worth the read.

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Susan Ann, you write wonderful reviews. I read this book years ago and missed the "poisonwood" significance, or at least I can't remember it if I got it. I never could get over my disgust with these characters, the self righteous, really psychotic father, the mother who would not protect her children. It totally colored my view of the book. I did finish it and I guess it was well written. Most people like it, but I just feel missionary work is arrogant and this family was sacrificed to it.

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