The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Reviewed by Jane
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 not very useful in Africa. The book is an epic story of the family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.
The story is told by the Reverend’s wife and 4 daughters, which was really an interesting twist, since they all had such different voices and perspectives. I do wish that the mother, Orleanna had larger role in the narrative, though. I think she was so pivotal and could have offered more depth to the story.
I will be honest this is a big book and it's one that I wasn't quite sure that I wanted to fully commit to, at first. It took several chapters, as told by a different character to reel me in. The clash of cultures between these Americans and the people of this tiny African village was stark, made worse by the intense zealotry of the Reverend Price.
The novel is set during the Congo's fight for independence from Belgium, when the people elected their first independent leader, who was then killed and one of the most murderous regimes of the 20th century was installed by our CIA. That sounds a bit dry, but it was a moment in history that I was completely unaware of.
The Poisonwood Bible is an epic, sweeping story. Settle in and make the commitment and you’ll be glad you did.