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The Poisonwood Bible

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  681,543 ratings  ·  24,044 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 546 pages
Published July 5th 2005 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published September 24th 1998)
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David It's easy to like a book we agree with, or that supports our world view, and also easy to dislike a book that challenges our beliefs and values. I gue…moreIt's easy to like a book we agree with, or that supports our world view, and also easy to dislike a book that challenges our beliefs and values. I guess it comes down to WHY we read. To affirm who we already are? To experience diverse viewpoints? Or to simply to enjoy good writing, or a good story, and let it be just that...a story? I identify as a Christian, and I enjoyed this book very much. No doubt there are people like Nathan Price...just as there are many people NOT like him. (Brother Fowles, for example.) It's a big, wide world. (less)
Parikhit I have to vote for Brother Fowles. His views and opinions set me thinking and I found a well explained logic in them; for instance when he talks about…moreI have to vote for Brother Fowles. His views and opinions set me thinking and I found a well explained logic in them; for instance when he talks about washing of feet, and the stripes. They may sound funny and amusing but when you carefully and judiciously think about the little examples he cited, they seem way too sensible. His take on Christianity was based on the foundation of helping the downtrodden which I have felt is the true essence of Christianity. But nothing beats when he says, 'There are Christians and then there are Christians', So much is concealed in a few words. (less)

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Average rating 4.07  · 
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On one hand, there is nothing new here, and on this same old tirade, I disagree strongly with the author. Examples:

* Relativism. I'm sorry, I believe infanticide to be wrong for all cultures, for all times.

* Missionaries, particularly protestant missionaries to Africa were entirely the endeavor of egotistic, abusive, colonialists who were merely out to change Africa into either a western society or an exploitative factory for western society. Wrong again, read Tom Hiney's "On the Missionary Trai
Emily May
May 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, 2013
There's plenty of Goodreads reviewers who felt differently, but I found The Poisonwood Bible to be a very strong and very different piece of historical fiction. It's a slower story than I normally like, something you might want to consider before deciding whether to try this 600+ page exploration of colonialism, postcolonialism and postcolonial attitudes, but I very much enjoyed this incredibly detailed portrait of a family and a society set in the Belgian Congo of 1959. And I, unlike some other ...more
Will Byrnes
May 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
In late 1950s Congo, an American missionary arrives with his family intent on bringing enlightenment to the savages. The experiences of the family are told by the preacher’s wife, Orleanna, and their four daughters, the vain Rachel, twins Leah, who is devoted to her father, and Adah, damaged at birth but more aware than anyone realizes, and the baby, Ruth Ann. The events take place during a period when Congo was eager to cast off its colonial chains and we see some details of events of the time. ...more
Aug 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read this over a two day span in college when I was home for winter break. We had a power outage so I found the sunniest room in the house and read all day. Although I prefer Kingsolver's works about the American southwest, this remains one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. ...more

The forest eats itself and lives forever.
Image: “The Trees Have Eyes” by Angela Wright

There is magic in these pages. Not the supernatural kind. Not the magical-realism kind. But magic of language and of the TARDIS kind: by some strange sorcery, many huge themes are thoroughly but lightly explored in single volume that is beautiful, harrowing, exciting, tender, occasionally humorous, and very approachable.

We messengers of goodwill adrift in a sea of mistaken intentions.

Freedom and Forgivenes
Jun 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library-book
I had a hard time choosing between 2 and 3 stars -- really, it should be 2.5. I thought the prose was quite lovely; Kingsolver has a nice voice. I enjoyed reading about a part of the world of which I have no experience. The description of the clash of cultures was well done.

However. The author had an agenda and she really didn't mind continually slapping us in the face with it. Now, I don't pretend the US hasn't made mistakes and won't continue on making mistakes. But to equate one group of peo
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, american
Avoidable Self-Abuse

Women put up with a great deal from men. This is a truism which can’t be reinforced too frequently, if only to remind women that they often collaborate with masculine arrogance to their own - and the world’s - disadvantage. Getting out from under, as it were, requires hitting them where it hurts - not in the private parts but in the intimacies of family life. Essentially, men have no defense against feminine dismissal of their pretensions as merely foolish.

Most of the common
Aug 21, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, dr-congo

I am the oldest sister and a typical teenage girl, oh-jeez-oh-man. All I want is to go back to Georgia and kiss boys outside the soda bar, but instead here I am stuck in the Congo with unconditioned hair and ants and caterpillars and scary-but-with-a-heart-of-gold black people. Jeez Louise, the life of a missionary's daughter. Also I make a whole lot of hilarious Malabarisms, that's just one of the tenants of my faith. There's two of them now! Man oh man.


The other day, Anatole rushed i
Paul Bryant
Dec 29, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
Reviewing in the face of the great billows of love projected towards this novel is a hapless task, your hat blows off and your eyes get all teary and if you say one wrong thing small children run out of nowhere and stone you or just bite your calves. So I shall this one time sheathe my acid quill. But I can't resist just a couple of little points though -

1) you have to suspend great balefuls of disbelief. These kids, they're awfully highfalutin with their fancy flora and fauna and fitful forensi
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
5 epic, no wonder this book is so well-loved stars, to The Poisonwood Bible! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Review of the audio. 🎧

The Price family, including minister father, Nathan, mother, Orleanna, and four daughters, traveled to the Belgian Congo in the late 1950s to serve a Baptist mission. The mom and daughters are the narrators, and I enjoyed the audio narrator’s voices for each of the characters (even her southern accent wasn’t too off the mark!). I do have to warn for audio fans, there were so many ch
Alisa Muelleck
Mar 07, 2008 rated it did not like it
People love this book, and I think I understand why. It's got a collection of strong characters, each chapter is written from a different character's point of view, and it's set in Africa, which is exciting. But there are a few reasons I don't think it's great literature.

The main things I expect from a good novel are: a) that the writer doesn't manipulate her characters for her agenda, b) that the characters' actions are consistent to the world the writer has created for them, c) good, tight pr
Sep 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Fabian by: Entertainment Weekly
Religious devotion many times leads to fanaticism which kills the family unit. This happens everyday--here is a chronicle of this. This diluted (& superscary-in-a-different-way) version of "The Shining" is complex, emotional. It is written similarly to "The Joy Luck Club", in different vignettes all of which are articulated in a distinguished, feminine P.O.V.

The location is the Congo before and after independence--the plot is about a preacher who treks to the jungle with his family. We end up ca
Jan 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Ashley
My official review "Tata Jesus is Bängala":

I finished the last 300 pages in 2 days (which is very fast for me - English books). I felt every emotion under the sky with this book. I hated Nathan Price, I hated injustice, I hated my uselessness, I hated the fact that there are no good prospects for Africa in the future. As a Geographic major I strongly believe that the closer you are to the Equator, the longer it will remain an underdeveloped country. Of course the country itself is full of resour
Richard (on hiatus)
The Poisonwood Bible covers a cataclysmic period in the life of the Price family of Bethlehem, Georgia.
Nathan Price, a Baptist preacher takes his wife and three daughters deep into the jungle of the Belgian Congo to spread the word of god. His unswerving path is clear, unarguable and dictated directly from above. He is driven, single minded and stubborn.
However, we soon begin to suspect that Nathan will find it hard to save or convince anybody ....... including his family!
His long suffering wif
Sep 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
What is amazing about The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver is the author’s voice.

Kingsolver casts a spell with the language she uses to describe three decades in the collective lives of the Price family, beginning with their time as missionaries in the Belgian Congo.

The structure is also a strength. The story is narrated by the mother and daughters of the Price family, each illustrating her perspective of the family chronicle as they experience what would become and what really began as
Angela Dawn
Apr 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Riveting...We read this aloud at home and I found it to be beautifully and movingly written, by turns charming and horrifying. Her articulation of the most subtle nuances of experience, the profoundly different narrative voices she assumes like an experienced character actress, and the way she fluently plays with language, show Kingsolver's love and mastery of her craft.
Having been brought up by ultra-religious Christian parents myself, I found the children's and wife's experience strongly reson
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Matt by: Farrah
Accepting a book recommendation offered up by my fellow Equinox Book Challenge participant, I chose to explore another novel related to the struggles of a maturing African continent. Making their way to the Belgian Congo in 1959, Nathan Price, his wife, and four daughter are ready to commence their missionary work. Arriving with everything they feel they might need, the Prices begin their journey, armed with Jesus, as they are surrounded with the locals in a jungle community. However, early on d ...more
Feb 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This one took me a long time to read, not just because it has a lot of pages but also because I had to read every single word carefully and re read the best bits too! It is so beautifully written and so very evocative of the atmosphere of Africa.

It is told in the five different voices of the female members of the family and I have to admit to liking Adah's chapters the most. She has a wonderful way of looking at things and I especially liked the way she referred to her bible thumping father as
Joe Valdez
My introduction to the fiction of Barbara Kingsolver is The Poisonwood Bible, her 1998 novel that seems to be a staple of book clubs the world over, from Oprah's to the Dive Bar Book Club I've joined and which picked this as their August read. This book was an assignment and took me out of the rhythm I was in reading westerns, so that might have something to do with my crankiness and general disappointment of it in summary. Kingsolver immersed me in extraordinary description, materializing the d ...more
Jun 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who are NOT hard-core republicans and/or Christians
This book literally put me into rage. In fact, I had to put it aside and read something a tad lighter (compared to The Poisonwood Bible even depressing The Lonely Polygamist is a lighter read) to be able to fall asleep. Reading about social injustices can do this to me sometimes.

The Poisonwood Bible is a story of a Baptist preacher Nathan Price who chooses to become a missionary in the Belgian Congo of 1959. Along with his unwavering beliefs and desire to bring salvation and enlightenment to sav
Elyse  Walters
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My local book club is discussing this book tomorrow morning --

I read this before I joined Goodreads. This story was 'gripping' -(I still remember my gut was hurting at times) -

This novel left a lasting -- YEARS LASTING impression --

Highly recommend it!!!!!!!!

Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Bought the book a year ago and it took me some time to start reading it. I was encouraged to purchase it by some reviews I'd read and though it waited some time to be chosen as my next read, I reckon I am fully rewarded. The story of an American Baptist missionary family that find themselves in Congo just before it gains its independence is superb. Five narrators of different ages telling different stories add to the incredible atmosphere of colonial Congo and I'm enjoying both the stories and t ...more
May 29, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in Congolese history
I read "The Poisonwood Bible" for two reasons: Because I've always wanted to read a Barbara Kingsolver book and I am intrigued by secular takes on Christianity in modern-day writings.

I just finished it today. It is the story of a missionary family's trek to the Congo, told through the eyes of the four daughters and their mother. The father is a misguided preacher who is trying to escape past demons by force-feeding Christ to a culture that he has neither researched nor desires to understand (the
A book that countless people have told me to read, which I finally got round to doing. This is a provocative tale about the land that was once called Congo; the tale of a missionary and his family as told by his 4 daughters and wife over 40+ years the rise and fall and rise of the Price family. Very interesting in that I get to get a feel some of Africa's recent Colonial past albeit through European eyes. A book that definitely stayed with me after completion. 6 out of 12
Apr 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book really made me think about why we adopt certain beliefs: what comes from the environment we are immersed in vs. what comes from within. I loved how Kingsolver shows the world view of an entire family who is experiencing the same basic situations in the Congo, but each member deals with these things very differently. It also brings up issues with culture differences and the obstacles in trying to persuade a culture to change. It poses the question of should they change, is the American ...more
Jaidee (on roadtrip-only updating reading progress
3 stars !....This book had moments of perfection in its poetic prose (5 star quality) to sections of the most horrible chick-lit (1.5 star quality).

The narrative of the Congo was fascinating both historically and anthropologically. At times I felt connected to the collective unconscious. (view spoiler)

The individual voices of the Price girls and even less so the Price women (when they grew up)did n
Lucy Langford
Apr 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The power is in the balance: we are our injuries, as much as we are our successes.”

This book follows the Reverend Nathan Price and his family; his wife, Ordelia and four children: Rachel, Leah, Adah and Ruth May. Nathan Price becomes a missionary and moves his family deep into the Congo, far from their home lives in Atlanta, to teach those in the village the ways of believing in the one "true" God. Upon arrival the Congo is completely different to their typical way of life, and through the eyes
Peter Boyle
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa
I had been meaning to read The Poisonwood Bible for the longest time, and it didn't disappoint. It is an epic family saga of vibrant, memorable characters and the enormous challenges they face.

The story begins in the late 1950s. Nathan Price, a stubborn Baptist preacher, decides to take his wife Orleanna and their four daughters to the Belgian Congo, in an attempt to convert the natives to Christianity. The scale of the task soon becomes apparent. The family take up residence in an extremely poo
Richard Derus
Jun 24, 2010 rated it liked it
This is one of those books I wasn't in love with, but completely understood why others would be. I dislike religious people, am appalled by the existence of missionaries, and as each awful event occurred found myself wishing that far, far worse would happen to these awful spiritual colonialists.

Now (2019) Amy Adams is making a limited series based on the book, and even started her own production company to make it. Author Kingsolver will write the screenplay with a seasoned screenwriter.
JG (Introverted Reader)
The Poisonwood Bible is about a Southern Baptist family that decides to go be missionaries in the Congo in 1960, just before the country was supposedly granted its independence from Belgium. The Prices didn't bother with language or culture training, they just took off to spread the word about Jesus. Of course they weren't prepared for what they found, so of course they got in a lot of trouble.

I can't exactly put my finger on what I didn't like. I just know that it felt like it dragged on and on
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Barbara Kingsolver is an American novelist, essayist, and poet. She was raised in rural Kentucky and lived briefly in Africa in her early childhood. Kingsolver earned degrees in Biology at DePauw University and the University of Arizona and worked as a freelance writer before she began writing novels. Her most famous works include The Poisonwood Bible, the tale of a missionary family in the Congo, ...more

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