Deborah's Reviews > The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
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's review
Jun 07, 2012

it was amazing

I can't imagine why it took me so long to get round to reading this haunting, beautiful book. I'd personally have to place it on the Masterpiece shelf. Having recently finished Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, I was slowly turning over the issues raised when I remembered this paperback that I've passed over so many times. In her introduction, Kingsolver references Achebe's book as an inspiration. Once I started reading I was completely swept along by the beauty of the writing, the story itself (really a multitude of stories fanning out from the original), and a total immersion in Africa and its many issues. Several of the characters are almost totally unlikeable, especially the missionary father Nathan Price. His eldest daughter Rachel remains fairly shallow and self- seeking through everything that happens but she's a very credible character. Each part of the book is introduced by Oleanna, the mother, who remains something of a mystery throughout. Apart from these short chapters in her own voice, she is mainly described through the words and thoughts of her four daughters, who divide the rest of tthe book between them, a chapter at a time. The twins Leah and Adah are the most complex characters and arguably provide the more interesting stories, particularly Leah who is completely absorbed by Africa.

Clearly a number of people hate the book, or certainly don't get what all the fuss is about. I found it compelling reading throughout and finished it in less than three days. The African issues described: the effects of missionaries and foreign influence on African history and politics,; the imposition and interference of foreign governments in African government together with the disasters that ensue were, I felt, quite fairly dealt with. The human stories cast different lights on aspects of religion and politics at different times but overall the theme is one of survival,. Each family member survives in very different ways, but each story drew me in.

I loved it.

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