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The Poisonwood Bible
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September 2019: Cultural > The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver - 5 stars

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ShazM | 351 comments In 1960, Baptist minister, Nathan Price, takes his wife and four daughters from Georgia, USA, to a tiny village in the Belgian Congo as missionaries. Their complete unpreparedness for the way of life and the events surrounding the country's Independence is told through the eyes of Orleanna Price and the daughers both at the time and later, looking back.

I found this an absolutely fascinating read. The descriptions of the jungle, the village and the way people lived were interesting as well as the historical references to the part the West played in the Independence. But mostly I enjoyed the different points of view of the mother and all the daughters as each chapter was told from an individual perspective. It's a quite emotional book, I think, and I confess to crying a couple of times but also getting mad at the rigidly, self-righteously, blinkered father and horrified at the politics. There were also odd touches of humour, particularly in the chapters belonging to the most worldly of the daughters who often mixed up words and her chapters often had sub-text which the reader understands but she obviously didn't.


message 2: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7114 comments I recall trying to read this when it first came out. For some reason I never got through it. I remember hating the father, and that could have been it. Being a bit older I think it might enjoy it now. Putting on the "maybe" list-Nice critique


Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5537 comments I read it twice ... for my two F2F book clubs: 1999 and again in 2001. Both predated my belonging to either Shelfari or Goodreads,, so my "review" here is pretty sketchy. I DO recall very spirited discussions at both book club meetings, though. 4**** from me.


ShazM | 351 comments Joanne wrote: "I remember hating the father, and that could have been it. Being a bit older I think it might enjoy it n..."

I think I would have hated the father when I was younger too but now I feel a little sorry for him - not much but a little! He reminds me a bit of the "fire and brimstone" type vicar who preached at our local church when I was a teenager and who appeared too inflexible for my liking.


message 5: by Sue (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sue | 997 comments I read this when it first came out. At that time I was in the process of separating myself from my parents very rigid religious ideas. Definitely fit my mood at the time!

I went on to read many of Barbara Kingsolver's books.

I loved most of them. Her most recent books have (IME) gotten a little too preachy, but still good reads.


Susan Lewallen (susanlewallen) | 418 comments I loved this book when it came out. Over the next decade my husband and two sons read it (we lived in Tanzania) and it made for some great conversations.


Joy D | 3068 comments Nice review, ShazM! I read this last year and really liked it. I believe the father represents the colonial thinking of the time where he thinks he knows better than the people who have always lived in the Congo.


Jason Oliver | 2063 comments ShazM wrote: "Joanne wrote: "I remember hating the father, and that could have been it. Being a bit older I think it might enjoy it n..."

I think I would have hated the father when I was younger too but now I f..."


I agree with actually feeling sorry for the father. Not as an excuse for his actions, but in the sense of this strong belief of right, losing everything, and still not being able to understand he is in the wrong.

This book was really eye opening and one of the first times I truly understood there is a world outside of my own universe and different ways of doing things.


NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 4890 comments This book was powerful, memorable, and heartbreaking at times. I agree with Joy D that it represented Colonial thinking. He assumed that if only they knew HOW to farm, they'd be all set.

I remember a lot of bugs eating crops. Is this the book that had swarms of red ants?


ShazM | 351 comments NancyJ wrote: "I remember a lot of bugs eating crops. Is this the book that had the swarms of red ants?"

Yes, that's right. Horrible scene!


LibraryCin | 8018 comments I believe I also gave this one 5 stars! Definitely my favourite by Kingsolver.


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