Wednesday, October 20, 2010

135 -The Poisonwood Bible; Barbara Kingsolver


The Poisonwood Bible is one of those books that I have wanted to read for a long time. I finally had the opportunity to listen to the audio version and was very pleased.

For those of you who are not familiar with this novel, The Poisonwood Bible is the story of fanatical Baptist missionary, Nathan Price, who moves his wife Orleanna, and their 4 daughters to  the Belgian Congo from Bethlehem, Georgia in 1959. The Reverend Price was hoping to bring Christianity to the people in the village of Kilanga, at a time when the people of that village were struggling to survive and to remain free from Belgium.  

The family arrives in the Congo without a clue as to what they were in for. The bring seeds to plant, but the soil is so poor, seeds will not grow. There is no plumbing or electricity and disease is prevalent everywhere it seems. The Reverend tries to get the people to come to the river to be baptised, but no one is interested in finding God by bathing in waters where crocodiles live. While the goal of Nathan Price was to transform the the lives of the Congolese people by bringing God into their lives, what really happens is that the lives of this family is transformed bit by bit, by what life was really like for them in the Congo.

The story is told in alternating voices of Oleanna and his daughters, and covers a period of about 30 years. The story hooks the reader immediately as each of the characters share realistic views of what they were experiencing along the way. Nathan Price is the only major character who does not have a voice in this novel, and yet in some ways I felt I got to know him the best through the eyes of his wife and daughters. He was an extremely arrogant and unlikeable man who put his entire family at risk. He was degrading to women, and I can't think of one positive thing to say about him. I think the fact he had no voice made this story all the more poignant.

The Poisonwood Bible is a story you really need to read for yourself. It's touching, compelling and insightful. The author did an amazing job depicting the political climate at that time. It's a story about religious beliefs, a story of the disintegration of a family, and a story about forgiveness. It is a story that makes you think, and a story that makes you question the actions our government sometimes takes, which really is not always in the best interest of the people.  I truly had sympathy for this family, especially as the years pass and each of the girls tries to find their place in  the world.  I loved the first half of this book, but felt that the second half  got a little bogged down at times. Despite this, I highly recommend this book.

Rating 4.5/5 
Personal copy and Library audio book

38 comments:

  1. I have this book somewhere around here but haven't read it yet. I'll have to get it out and add it to my read soon pile.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have been toying with the idea od adding Poisonwood Bible to my TBR list for some time-I think your post has convinced me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I loved this book when I read it years ago. I'm kind of surprised that the whole thing was read by a man.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is one of my mom's favorite books. I have yet to read this one of Kingsolvers. My husband is reading The Lacuna right now and enjoying it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I loved this book as well, glad the audio version was enjoyable.

    ReplyDelete
  6. That does sound interesting with some rather interesting characters.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am so glad you liked it so much! I read this book with much trepidation quite a few years ago and was blown away with how much I loved it. It had really stuck with me since then. It's one of those books that really makes you think about what you would have done if you had been a member of that family.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Glad you enjoyed it, as it's one of my all-time faves!

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's been a very long time since I read this one, but I do remember the second half dragging a little. I'm glad that you have a chance to read/listen to it!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Yes, this is definitely on my TBR. I have only read the Bean Trees, and didn't really like it very much, but I am going to give this one a try.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This book knocked my socks off and is one that is worth reading again. Excellent review!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks for a terrific review, Diane! My (older) daughter read this over the summer (for school), and I probably will, too. I keep seeing The Lacuna everywhere.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I like your review so much specially when you say that you have to read it for yourself to know what it is about. I am going to look for this asap.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I loved this book as I do much of what Kingsolver writes. I'm so glad you liked it!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I've wanted to read this book forever too! I just need to make the time for it...

    ReplyDelete
  16. It was this book that first introduced me to the joys of Barbara Kingsolver and now I can't get enough of her. I find her use of language so evocative, and her stories are so compelling. I also enjoyed The Lacuna and have a few more on my shelves waiting to be read

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is a great review of what sounds like a very interesting book. Thanks for sharing it and thank you also for stopping by and leaving such a lovely comment. I'm learning right along with you, I think that's why I love blogging so much. Have a great weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Read this with my book club several years ago.... bet it would be great on audio!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I was sold on this book on the first page, I have The Lacuna on my TBR list now, can't wait to read it.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I loved this book so much, and read it for the second time not that long ago. It really was an interesting story that was written with precision and grace. Great review, glad you loved it too!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm sure I'm in good company when I say this is one of my very favorite books. I've read it a couple of times, and I have the urge to read it yet again!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Another book I have also been meaning to read for a while, thanks for the inspiration to do so.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I tried to read this years ago but I think Nathan pissed me off so much I couldn't continue reading. Your post has me consider picking up again.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I read this book shortly after moving to Brussels and it was more intense book because of it. My bookclub here in Brussels also read King Leopold's Ghost, a non-fiction about the Belgian Congo and it was one of the best discussions ever.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I want to re read this one because I don't feel that I got a lot out of it the first time around. It wasn't my favorite book and I feel that part of the issue was that I read it at the wrong time.

    ReplyDelete
  26. This is one of my favorite books.

    ReplyDelete
  27. i just bought a copy of barbara kingsolver's poisonwood bible and i'm glad i stumbled into your review. i wasn't planning to read it anytime soon but because of your review and the beautiful comments, i think i'll have to allot a full week to read the book the soonest possible time. thanks for the review :)

    ReplyDelete
  28. I'm one of the few who didn't like this book. I did like the first half, but like you said, the seond half got bogged down and I guess that bothered me enough to give it a low rating. I don't remember exactly...maybe a 3

    ReplyDelete
  29. I have wanted to read this for too long now, maybe I need to just listen to it. Great idea.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I have had this book on my list for a long time, as well. Perhaps it's time! Thanks for the excellent review! ~karen

    ReplyDelete
  31. So glad you enjoyed this book - it almost reads as two stories, the time in Africa and the time after (after the event that changes everything).

    ReplyDelete
  32. I read this a long time ago but most of my thoughts on it have faded. I like your comment about liking that the unlikable Nathan doesn't have a voice in this story.

    ReplyDelete
  33. A wonderful review. I like the image of seeds which will not sprout.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I could have sworn I commented on this post already! Hmmmmm....this book has been on my list for a long time. Perhaps while I travel, it would make a good read! ~karen

    ReplyDelete
  35. I loved this book and cried and cried at many different points! What came over me? It was good for the soul, though! I agree, a wonderful book.

    ReplyDelete
  36. This book is one of my husband's favorites, but I somehow have never read it. I hope to get to it soon, as The Lacuna is the only Kingsolver I've read, and I wasn't wild about it.

    ReplyDelete
  37. This is one of those books I really want to read, but keep pushing to the side. Maybe next year.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I'm glad you liked this. I loved it and put it on my 100 best books list. Excellent review.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to visit and double thanks for any comments. If you ask a question in your comments, I will try to reply to it here, or by email if your settings allow me to do so. Thank again for visiting.