Caroline's Reviews > The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
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's review
Nov 14, 07

bookshelves: fiction, read-in-2007
Read in November, 2007

This book was fascinating for a variety of reasons for me. Not only is it set in the jungles of Congo, but the structure really sucked me in so much more than a lot of books. Barbara Kingsolver obviously spent a lot of time researching this book (according to the P.S. text, a couple of decades)--there's a huge list of references used, and the details within the text made me feel almost as if I'd actually been to a little town deep within the jungles of Congo.

Kingsolver had a very nice variety of character perspectives, rather than telling the story all from one person's point-of-view. All of the daughters have very different voices, as well as the mother. Leah is the most trusting of her father's preaching, and for a good chunk of the novel spends her time doting on her father and not really realizing how wrong he was on a lot of things. Rachel gets fairly annoying at times, with how stuck-up she can be, but in the end I did like her for her honesty. Adah, the "twisted child," is very poetic and I found myself looking forward to her passages the most, with her play-on-words and general pessimistic take on the whole situation. Ruth May felt a lot like a filler character at times, although in the end I did appreciate her innocent take on everything.

I actually learned a few things about the Congo by reading this--it's not an area I knew much about (just generals that are commonly known, like the diamond trade), so it was a bit of a history lesson mixed in with a very interesting story.

I was a bit iffy of the final 150-ish pages, where it seemed like the story was over...but it kept going. In the end, I was really glad Kingsolver decided to do the rest of the story in the way she did--in those 150 pages, she covers about 30 years of the after-effects on the family. You never get the full story of what happened to certain characters, but in a time of turmoil like that you wouldn't in it works. It's pretty interesting to see how much some of the daughters changed after the horrible failure of their father's mission, and how very little one daughter changed. It turned into more than a story of a failed Baptist preacher attempting to convert the members of a little Congolese town, but a story of the long-reaching effects of one man.

Definitely a powerful book, and I'm so glad I picked it up on a whim! It was slow-going most of the time (it took me much longer to read this than I expected--more out of savoring it than it being a difficult read, because it was definitely easy yet poetic language), but it was definitely worth the effort.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim I love books set in Africa everywhere, but mostly the congo and the serenghetti etc. Do you know of any others who aren't the highly advertized authors &/or books Caroline?

Caroline I haven't personally read very many--outside of this, everything I've read set in Africa is either more middle eastern, or South Africa (the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith is set in Botswana).

If you haven't already, you might try looking through the "Africa" genre page. It might give you some ideas!

message 3: by Mummy (new)

Mummy The Flame Trees of Thika: Memories of an African Childhood Lovely memoir of a little girl in Africa

I Do Not Come to You by Chance Sad/funny novel on the Nigerian scam - by a Nigerian.

Randi Marcus Try reading cutting for stone and what is the what. Both are excellent. Both set in Africa.

Randi Marcus Another one is little bee

message 6: by Mummy (new)

Mummy I loved Little Bee

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