244 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful
manidoikwe reviewed Poisonwood Bible (Oprah's Book Club (Turtleback)) on
Helpful Score: 11
Primo selection for long plane flights; Kingsolver gets off to a slow start; you have to get into it about 50 pages, and then you are hooked. Each character seems normal and eventually is revealed for the bizarre creature he or she actually is. Gradually sensing and "watching" this family crack up in the middle of Africa is hilarious and deep.The character of Nathan is rich--he just can't "get" why the indigenous people do NOT want, or need his religion. Once he realizes this truth, his mind slowly sizzles to a snap , and his family merrily rolls along.
Bill P. (loverm47) reviewed Poisonwood Bible (Oprah's Book Club (Turtleback)) on
Helpful Score: 8
This is without a doubt one of the best fictional works I've read in some time. It is done from a unique and multiple narrative perspective. I grabs your heart from the first few chapters till the very last, will hold your attention and thoughts for quite some time.
I found this book enjoyable, if not extraordinary. The story of an eccentric Southern minister out to save souls by dragging his wife and daughters to the Congo in the turbulent 1960's.
The multiple perspectives created a complex web of truths that could not have been discerned if the author had chosen to tell the story from one character. While that was a definite positive, I did find some of the character's perspectives to be tiring and struggled to get through their chapters. The political overtones balanced well with the colorful personal struggles of each of the daughters. Overall it was a very good book, but I had to make myself get through the last quarter or so. It would have benefited from being about 100 pages shorter.
Laura D. (loladep) reviewed Poisonwood Bible (Oprah's Book Club (Turtleback)) on
Helpful Score: 8
This is my all time favorite book. I've read it twice and it enjoyed it both times. The characters are well developed and I loved the way she wrote in five separate voices. This is one of the few books that sparked a long and involved discussion in my book club and though some liked it and others didn't, everyone was moved by it.
This book was hard to get into, but well worth the effort. In fact, I found it impossible to put down once I got rolling with it. Although the ending is a bit cliched, the quirkiness of the characters and the situation make it a memorable read.
A book written from 5 points of view? musing on word families in african languages? evaluating ancient cultural customs from a 1960's southern baptist perspective? telling the history of an African (euro-african?) nation from the inside out?
Fantastic!! This book has well-conceived characters with unique differences that anyone with a sibling will appreciate, and its setting in Zaire in the 1960's walks you through the tumultuous events that shaped Africa into what it is today. Read this book if you loved the movie "Blood Diamond." My favorite quote: "No other continent has endured such an unspeakably bizarre combination of foreign thievery and foreign goodwill."(pg 528)
A perfect read if you enjoy an intense, thought-provoking book.
This is an incredible book! It is among the best books I have ever read. I hesitated to start it, as it is a long book and in reading the synopsis, I thought it may be slow moving-but I was wrong! It was impossible to put down from the very beginning, for me. It is told mostly by the writing of each of the four daughters, beginning with leaving their home in Georgia to arrive in a remote village in Africa in 1959. The daughters range in age from 5 to 15-about to be 16. The mother also tells her story. Their personalities are all so different and while it is often quite humorous-it is also harsh survival-and everything between. It is so absorbing, I could not read it fast enough. It follows the years and the impact on their lives of their Southern Baptist father's decision to relocate this innocent, naive family to a foreign, alien culture. This book is on the list of "1,001 books to read before you die" and I wholeheartedly agree!
This is one of Barbara Kingsolver's most captivating novels. A well-meaning but dense missionary believes he can impact the natives of the Congo. The book is about the impact of the Congo on his family. I wanted to shake him several times. A great read.
This book was very highly recommended by a friend, so I figured I'd read it. I actually gave up on it, but she told me to keep at it, that she put it down 3 times before finally finishing it.
It got better about 200 pages into the book, but I still am not thrilled by the story.
However, it gives a unique perspective on American and World history. Another interesting thing it will show you is about consumption. Americans and Brits use five to ten times more of the world's resources than people in third world countries. This is painfully obvious in the Poisonwood Bible. I was considering this book as part of a World History curriculum, but decided it was too much for freshmen to get into.
I suggest you keep plugging through if you find it difficult to read.
This story made me look at the world and other cultures in a way that I never considered. I have a new appreciation for Africa that I never had before. This is possibly the best story I have ever had the privilege of reading.
At page one, this book was interesting. At page two, you are completely engulfed. Maybe its the vivid pictures, the moral overtones, the historical ties, or the strong connections with this family but the story takes over. Later in the book, things happen that completely shattered me - I was so upset that I threw the book across the room. But I still couldn't put it down. At the end of the book, all I could think was - I want MORE!!
This book engulfs you from the first page. The small theme is about a missionary family and the zealot patriarch in Africa during turbulent times. But the larger themes, so well developed through the characters and their trials and tribulations, carry you much farther than the events. Each family member struggles to emerge whole and vital. The 4 girls and their mother, all exposed to the same events, choose different paths to physical, emotional and moral survival. It is one of the most original, exciting, moving and thought provoking books I have ever read, and I have read a great many.
This is one of my favorite books. Kingsolver has a rich narrative style and she describes the land the way other writers might describe a fine meal. The cultural and political subtext are intriguing. I highly recommend this book.
The fictional story covers a family's missionary journey into the Congo, in the early '60's. It is told from the perspective of the mother and each of the four daughters in the family. In reading the same story from five different viewpoints you glean a rich, complex retelling of the almost 2 years spent in Africa. It also sets the stage for the later portion of the book as each daughter tells her story after leaving the Congo one fateful night, each going her own separate way.
In reading the story, I not only learned a bit of Congo history, as it is historical fiction and historically accurate in its details, I also learned a bit more about myself in my reactions to the characters and their actions.
LASHERA K. - reviewed Poisonwood Bible (Oprah's Book Club (Turtleback)) on
Helpful Score: 3
This book completely took my breath away. The beauty, the tragedy, the people of Africa and how it affected each individual member of this family's life on so many different levels was just so encompassing. I found myself reading and rereading passages just for the beauty of the wording or of the images it conjured up. A definite must read. This is a book that will stay with you for a lifetime.
Don't be mislead by the book description or some of the reviews - this story is not about religion or missionary work. Yes, the missionary father drags his wife and four daughters into the Belgium Congo during a time in history of political upheaval believing he can convert each and every child within the village. This book is insightful, historically revealing, and entertaining as each of the daughters tells her version of events with the voice of their individual personalities.
I read this book when it was first published in 1998 and have just finished re-reading it. It still rates a place as one of my Top 10 favorites. The first chapter is a bit hard to get into so I recommend you come back to it after youve read a few chapters into the book. I won't provide you details of the story as it would spoil the read for you . . . but suffice it to say, you'll laugh out loud, cry, and upon turning the last page realize you might be a better person for reading this book if you reflect on the real message it holds. Worth quoting, "Everything you're sure is right can be wrong in another place."
I was leery when I picked up this book, as many of the previous "Oprah's Book Club" selections were not all they were talked up to be. After arriving just one or two chapters into the book, I was truly entralled. It is an amazing and extremely promising read from front to back. I will be sorry to part with it, but it is time. After reading it (at least) 4 times now, I don't think I have missed anything.
Very intense story about life of missionary family in Congo in 1950's. It was recommended by a friend and I was unsure about it but once I started reading I could not put it down until I sould find out what happened to all the children.
Super book, vivid writing. About a family that becomes missionaries in Africa. It tells the story from each main character's point of view. One of the most thought provoking books I've read on missionary work- especially for Christians.
Kingsolver has a knack for writing in several different voices, telling this story through the eyes of the daughters of a very over the top missionary.
Maybe it was because this was one of the first books I read since a very long hiatus from fiction, but I adored this story.
The characters were compelling, their life together was fascinating, and I learned a bit about history as well. And if a book can make me happy to learn about history, it must be well worth a read.
A friend passed this book on to me when she finished it, and I passed it to another friend, and it is still making its way through book lovers in my town; each of us loving it and wanting to share with anyone we know.
Becky L. reviewed Poisonwood Bible (Oprah's Book Club (Turtleback)) on
Helpful Score: 2
This book easily ranks among my favorite five of all time, perhaps even as my very favorite. Kingsolver's use of different voices in telling the story is brilliant, and as the plot unfolds, the overall picture painted is much richer for its multifaceted approach. This alone was enough to make the book enjoyable, but beyond the nuts and bolts of the writing itself, the overall plot is magnificently thought provoking, and is in itself, a convincing and compelling argument against organized, dogmatic religion. If I could recommend one book to anyone, this would be it.
Deborah A. reviewed Poisonwood Bible (Oprah's Book Club (Turtleback)) on
Helpful Score: 2
This book is probably the most amazing book I have ever read in my life wich is why I just requested it from a memember so I can REread it. It contains humor and grief and happiness and family and Christianity and dysfunction and more all rolled into one. It is simply an amazing read and Barbara Kingsolver is an awesome, amazing writer. You need to read this. It is such an adventure. Wow.
Excellent! The first chapter is a bit abstract, but then the book bursts into a story that is overwhelmingly riveting. The author explores sensitive issues of religion, race and politics allowing the reader to see different perspectives of the issues without taking sides. The book will swallow you whole and make you contemplate modern societal norms and values - even if you believe you already know where you stand.
This book was amazing how it told a complete tale from multiple women's points of view. I can't even describe how amazing this book is. I have read two other's by this auther and didn not overly enjoy them at all. this book doesn't compare to her other works. The Harry Potter series are my favorite fiction series, but this book is my favorite adult fiction of all time at this point.
One of the best fiction books I have read in awhile. If you enjoyed The Story of B or Ishmael you will probably appreciate this book. If you haven't read those but liked this book you should go read them! The ending was a little weak but still well worth the read. I really liked that the book touched on alot of political issues as well as spelling out that the world 'we' know of is not the way it is everywhere.
This was one of the most difficult books I have ever read. There was so much information on each page. 543 pages of story, bible knowledge, and all about Africa. After I got into it, it was spellbinding & had to read into the night to finish it. The knowledge the writer has just stymied my mind. A very beautiful story . This book will long be remembered for me & I highly recommend it.
I loved this book. The story of a family on a missionary trip to the Congo during political unrest. Very different from their way of life in America. Though I loved the story, it could have ended about 100 pages earlier.
When Poisonwood Bible was published, I worked in a book store and couldn't believe how many people flocked to it. As a result, I was skeptical and avoided reading it until recently. This book was absolutely phenomenal and I was sorry not to have read it sooner! The writing is outstanding, and the character development is undeniably perfect. I was hugely attached to the characters and was hungry to learn more about the world they lived in. Poisonwood Bible is clearly well researched and truly is a masterpiece deserving of more accolades than it has received.
Story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price,who takes his family and mission to the Congo in 1959. Follows one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.
This is one of my favorite books ever. I'm only posting it because someone gave me an extra copy. I love the way the different voices of the different characters develop and how the story comes from all of them. It comments on society, family, religion, world relations and much more all around a fascinating storyline. I don't think I can do it justice in a paragraph review. I'll just stop and say I highly recommend this book.
I love stories where one of the main characters is clueless, and the thrust of the story allows them to figure out who they are. But here, one of the main characters stays clueless, and you love him no more for his ineptitude. A very good read all the same.
Written from the point of view of the children. Tells about a 1950s African American family from the South who go on a mission to Africa and how their experience changes them and how their relationships with each other change. A good book.
This ranks in my top 5 list. While it does take a little while to get into, it is well worth it. The characters are extremely well drawn -- after a while you know immediately which daughter is speaking.
I attempted to read this book a couple of times and could not get past the first two chapters! It sounded like someone who was trying to hard in an attempt to depict southern dialect. It bothered me so much that I cringed several times. I found it boring and really hard to follow. Other people told me if I could get past the first few chapters it picks up but I couldn't put myself through it to find out!
I loved "The Bean Trees" but for some reason had never picked up any of Kingsolvers other novels. "Poisonwood" certainly didn't disappoint. I was so engrossed and invested in the character's lives (especially Adah) that I had to skip to the end and find out where they ended up before I could continue reading - and I was only a quarter of the way through!
One of my all-time favorite books! A great Oprah pick! This book made me laugh and cry and while teaching me about Africa. I loved the way she introduced the American missionary's family and let us see the village people through their eyes. And then at the end--we finally get to see how this family was viewed by the village. Deeply insightful and unforgettable! Course--I could totally relate to the daughters as my father was a minister. Very realistic, touching. Makes you rethink how we live in America.
Very hard to get into in the beginning but if you stick with it you will become more engaged in the story. Did want to shake the father a couple of times with his way off base ideas of how to bring religion to the natives. Very complex mother daughter relationships, wonderful storyline to bring you right into the world they were living in.
Absolutly one of the most beautifuly written books I have ever read. An absolute favorite!This one is going to an honored spot on my bookshelf,if I ever get it back from the friends that I have insisted read it.
It started getting a little too preachy and rambling (Kingsolver could have cut out at least 100 pages and still gotten all of her points in there) for my taste, but overall a solid book and well-written.
I've never had much interest in the Congo or the history of it being occupied, but this book has prompted me to read up on it.
Barbara Kingsolver is addictive, just incase you have never read her books before! She didn't need Oprah to put her on the map for me. This book is about the family of an evangelical Baptist minister who travel to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They believe they have brought what they "need" ,only to discover, as they literally "come apart at the seams", that to survive they will need to recontruct and transform life their lives. This journey takes place over the next thirty years in Africa during the Congo's fight for independence from Belgium. It is a suspenseful, political chronicle during an epic time period in Africa. So well written!
The story is told through the eyes of the wife and daughters of an evangelical Baptist minister. They are with a mission in the Belgian Congo in 1959. The book covers 30 years while the family undergoes tragedies during a time of political unrest in the Congo.
It's supposed to be a great book. Frankly, I couldn't get into it.
I loved this book. It's a great story of how our surroundings shape our lives and what can happen to a country's infrastructure when invaded by another. You see it also in the family involved as you follow them through their lives, each character in their own words.
Another great story from one of my top favorite authors, The Poisonwood Bible tells the tragic but inspiring story of one family's gradual loss of innocence in the Belgian Congo. The story is unveiled only from the perspectives of the wife and the four daughters (father's story is gleaned from these women) in alternating chapters. Not as brutal as say, The Mosquito Coast, but still quite the page-turner.
Kingsolver is a terrific writer but this book is too damn long! It's epic and challenging; a compelling story of humanity and politics told through the eyes of a mother and her four daughters. I've always wanted to read Kingsolver but in retrospect Im not sure if this was the best place to start.
This is exactly what I want from an award-winning novel! I was hooked immediately by the author's authentic southern voice and the way she expertly molded and shaped the four Price girls and their mother. The Poisonwood Bible was my kind of Southern Gothic fiction, but instead of being set in the American South, it was set in the Belgian Congo. If you decide to take this journey into Africa, expect Southern Baptist evangelism gone wrong, ignorant racism, the devolution of European colonialism, ex-patriot survival to the extreme, and the unmistakable bonds between siblings. Some readers were turned off by the apparently heavy-handed political tone of the book, but I was intrigued by the history of the Congo and the struggles of its people before and after Belgian occupation (and the impact of all on whites living in the country). There are images from this book that I will likely never lose - like a green mamba snake camouflaged in a tree and the distinctive light blue color of the inside of its mouth.
I am not a person who normally reads a book more than once, but this was one book that I yearned to pick up again after 10 years.
The Poisonwood Bible is extraordinary. I love the fact that it discusses the hypocracies in religion and how they can be taken to the extreme, yet the women involved never lose their faith, regardless of the hard times they are subjected to. The story shows the true strength of character that is within us all and how we can will ourselves to survice, no matter the circumstances. Yet we are all changed.
Kingsolver is undoubtedly a fine writer -- her prose is engrossing and often poetic in its beauty. I was just not that crazy about the plot -- it seemed to go on and on and was just not that interesting. The last 100 pages lost my interest and I just kept reading to finish the darn thing. I found the father missionary to be so unfeeling and stupid as to be unbelieveable as a character. I guess some men are that stupid, unrealistic, and uncaring about the safety of their families, and some mothers that cowed, but this man beggared belief, and I got fed up with the mother and four daughters for being so cowed, so willing to put up with his dream of converting those who did not wish to hear his message much less doused in a croc-infested river to be baptized. I enjoyed Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer more. Give it a go and see if you like it more than I did.
i have not read a book this good in a while. i highly recommend it. i was not into it during the first couple of pages, when i got to about page 50 or so, i couldn't put it down. read it within a few weeks of subway and bus rides to and from work. so clever. i can't imagine the extraordinary task of writing this book. written from the point of view of a mother and her four daughters who move to the congo with their husband and father on a mission. history and fiction all wrapped up into a powerful lesson.
Sarah - reviewed Poisonwood Bible (Oprah's Book Club (Turtleback)) on
Helpful Score: 1
This book is a wonderful book to read. Kingsolver writes from the perspective of four different characters and effectively captures the difference in ages and personalities. The story is gripping from the first page. Although the book is long, you will not want to put it down until you are finished reading it.
This book is written like an orchestra. It tells the story of white, Christian, American culture which evolves throughout the book as it reflects on different African cultures and includes the politics from both areas. Sections begin in the mothers voice, reflecting on events many years later and each chapter alternates among the present voices of the four daughters. The writing was brilliant. The story took unpredictable turns and was very intriguing. The characters were richly developed and very enjoyable.
This was quite the epic...following a missionary family and their trials and tribulations as they experience wild Africa in the 1960's and beyond. It took about 150 pages or so to really start to get into the guts of the book. However, it is rewarding: the story definitely gets better and richer as it progresses. Reading about each of the family's members lives "after" (I don't want to give too much away...) was equally as fascinating if not more.
I can see how this novel might not be for everyone, Kingsolver has a very thorough and descriptive, almost flowery style of writing, some might find that this drags down the story at times, but I felt this added to the rich complexity of the country and the story. I also enjoyed hearing experiences told from different family viewpoints, though I can see how some might find this distracting - I thought this style of narrative helped the reader really delve inside each character.
Just got around to reading the book in 2008. The ending analysis of what happened to the sisters seemed too glib and sterotyped. Very thought provoking about the role of religious evangelism in breaking down cultures.
Oh, I enjoyed this book MUCH more than I thought I would. Africa as a setting does not particularly grab my attention and a missionary family would not typically be the types of characters to intrigue me. Yet, I loved this book. Intricate, detailed and immaculately woven together, it is a delightfully layered novel. I loved how each woman's voice was strong and uniquely her own - I especially enjoyed the "errors" made in Rachel and Ruthie May's chapters, not to mention the palindromes in Adah's sections. The plot, too, was solid and entertaining and though it really could have ended sooner, I was glad that the book kept going throughout their lives as long as it did. I am definitely going to be keeping an eye out for her other books!
I got 60 pages in and stopped, I could not connect with the characters, didn't care for the prose style in which it was written and found that I only cared for Adah and even her sections were getting garbled. Perhaps it picks up, but Ididn't want to hang around and hope, I gave up.
The story of a missionary family that moves to Africa. It is told from several points of view - the mother and each of 4 daughters. It is very shocking at times, heartwarming at others. It is an excellent book.
A riveting story about an Evangelical Christian missionary, and his doomed attempt to Christianize a Congo village in 1959. The story is told from the point of view of his wife and four daughters, trapped in a foreign land that was sinking into anarchy and civil war.
I loved this book...learned so much about the politics and history of the Congo. I chose to read this book because of Barbara Kingsolver's other book, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral about eatting locally...she is an amazing author and I highly reccomend this book.
This story, told from the P.O.V. of a young girl raised in a religious fanatic home is beautifully written. She is uprooted from her "normal" life and taken to Africa. Life changes instantly, maturity comes slowly - and at great price. Grace under life pressure doesn't really sum it up well - maybe gracelessness under insanity. The mood is serious, but you must smile with her through her life.
This is on my top 10 list of all-time best books I've read. I've bought at least five copies in my life specifically to give away. The characters, the plot, the settings are all so haunting that images from the book drift into my mind years later.
It's a story of a young missionary and his family who go to the war-torn Congo thinking that they can change it and end up themselves profoundly and irrevocably changed by the experience. It's hysterically funny and devastatingly tragic and thoroughly fascinating. I can't recommend it enough.
I learned so much about the Belgian Congo from reading this book. I was aware from the beginning of how the book was going to unfold...and yet I still wanted to read it...reminds me a bit of Paul Theourox's "Mosquito Coast". This was only my second Kingsolver book and I will be reading more of her.
This is a tale of a blindly driven missionary and his diverse, unwilling family thrust deep into the Congo and subsequently abandoned by what they see as civilization. It is deep, important, well-researched, and the characters strike uncomfortably close to home. I think I liked this book LESS because the wholly realistic characters were so much like people I know.
Wonderful book...Excellent story that will stay with you long after you finish the book. Kingsolver is truly an artist - she crafts a story with an unparalleled use of language and imagery. A MUST read!
Written in the voices of each of the primary characters, this novel reaches into your gut and grabs you. Ms. Kingsolver allows each of her wounded women to tell her heart-wrenching story, and that of Africa, without judgement - that's for the reader to render. To be sure, not one of the women, the mother and her daughters, was left unchanged by the experiences in the Congo. A rich tale that both informs and entertains. Ms. Kingsolver spares no detail in describing the horrific conditions that were (and to great extent still are) the norm in the Congo. The novel is part horror story and part love story. I highly recommend this engrossing tale.
Great book! The missionary family in this book learns more than the african natives they were sent to teach. It seems that the natives already have a working society in place and are very tolerant of the missionaries that they must care for. The main characters are all very well defined and interesting.
One of the best books I've read in a long time, absolutely loved it. I liked how the author switched narrative perspectives to engage you in each character's mind. The characters were so different from each other and so very real because of that. You could almost think to yourself how you knew people just like these girls in "real life."
I LOVED this book. It was beautifully written and offered a fascinating glimpse into a tragic family saga that eventually sent each member on decidedly individual paths. One of the best books I have read in a while and I read a lot.
I read this book in high school. In one sitting. It's not a short book but it ensnared me so throughly that I could hardly tear myself away. At times I felt I could relate to the helpless feeling that the children had. The father's lofty dreams punishing those around him without him intending it to necessarily be that way. I was left sad hoping for him to die in a terrible way. It can be difficult to read at time because of the emotions this book can invoke but I loved every moment of it, even as I cried my eyes out.
I love Barbara Kingsolver and this novel in particular. A story of a man who takes a calling from God and the lives of his family into his own hands and moves them to Africa. Wonderful writing, satisfying story.
An excellent story that sucked me in pretty quickly. Appalled by the father, sympathizing with one daughter or another at any given time, lamenting the "stuck" mother. It really tells an epic story from several points of view.
I've never been much of a reader and so there was a time when I was reading whatever Oprah told me too. I got this book and freaked when I saw how many pages it was, but I tell you, I couldn't put it down. I really loved it. I didn't think I would but I really did. It seemed like a boring topic but the story moved along very well and kept me turning the pages. I couldn't believe I read such a long book!
It's a little hard to get into at first, but then the story really takes off and it is very worth the read!! It is funny, sad, and exciting.
From the back cover: This is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptists who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. What follows is a suspensful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa. This ambitious novel establishes Kingsolver as one of the most thoughtful and daring of modern writers.
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 a suspensful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.
This story of Nathan Price, a Baptist missionary to the Belgian Congo in 1959, on the eve of Congolese independence, is a deep, multifaceted narrative. Told in alternating chapters by Nathan's wife and four daughters, it's the compelling story of a wife stretched beyond her limits, of daughters struggling to grow up in an alien environment, and of the Congo's development. Reminiscent of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, it is a story of the insanity that can befall a white man set on bending Africa's landscape and people to his own will. Kingsolver is a great talent, ably using African languages in her prose while developing a story with all the elements of a true classic.
. . . the 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 calamitiously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.
Barbara Kingsolver didn't win my willingness to read this entire book. I despised the male character so much, I wouldn't finish reading the book. Maybe that makes it an excellent book? The characters are vivid and interesting, that's for sure!
The Poisonwood Bible is a story 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 garded seeds to Scripture-is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful spic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.The novel is set against one of the most dramatic political chronicles of the twentieth century: the Congo's fight for independence from Belgium, the murder of its first elected prime minister, the CIA coup to install his replacement, and the insidious progress of a world economic order that robs the fledgling frican nation of its autonomy. Taking its place alongside the classic works of postcolonial literature, this ambitious novel establishes King-solver as one of the most thoughtful and daring of modern writers.
An amazing book that will make you think about what you really need in life--the book is told from the viewpoint of five different women, a mother and four daughters, and it is remarkable how each matures and changes over the course of the book.
So I've finally gotten around to reading and finishing The Poisonwood Bible. This has been on my list for quite a long time, and I'm glad I read it. Told through the stories of the mother and 4 daughters, the first two-thirds of the book detail the struggles of a missionary family in the Congo in the 1960's while the last third reveals just how much the Congo had transformed each of them.
WARNING - Some Spoilers!
How can anyone really hope to return to a "normal" life in America after seeing and living in such poverty - where death was a way of life and you had to struggle for mere survival. Faced with malaria and ravenous ants, the Price girls each bring a unique experience to their tale of the Congo. None of them leave quite as they came, and yet their basic personalities remain the same.
Rachel was the popular platinum-blond teenager back "home" in Georgia. I really liked this character the least, and you get the feeling that Kingsolver didn't like her that much either. She wasn't the brightest bulb, but she knew how to take care of herself, and that's what she focused on during the whole of the book. At times, her chapters were just annoying though, with her malapropisms and complaining.
I particularly enjoyed hearing about life through the eyes of Adah, the mal-formed twin with an uncanny ability to see the symmetry in things. She loved palindromes and poetry, and she had an irreverent wit about her that made her narrative intriguing. With her gift for language, she often mused about the dual meanings of words in the Congolese village of Kikongo, and she saw life and death dancing with each other in a precarious balance.
Leah, Adah's twin, was another character I found I could relate to. During her early days in the jungle, she found herself doing what she could to gain the approval and attention of her father, Nathan. I really couldn't understand the character of Nathan. He was a man driven mad with his goal of changing Africa to his ways. He tried to force the Congo into something it was not, and he could not accept failure. This stubbornness spelled out disaster for his family, especially during the politcal tumult of the Congo's first elections and governmental upheaval. I'm sure that I'll never understand the religious zealot's refusal to bend and compromise, or even leave when it was clearly dangerous to remain. Without taking the time to know those in his village, how could he hope to change their underlying beliefs and superstitions?
I guess I'm surprised by the fact that the women stayed in the same household with him as long as they did, but I cheered for them when they marched out of there. Orleanna, the wife, was probably the most poignant character of the book. Her sections are always distant reflections of what happened, and your heart just breaks listening to her tell the story of her own destruction through her marriage to Nathan and her unbreakable tie to Africa.
This really is a book worth reading. Kingsolver has done her homework on the history and lives of those in the Congo and gives life to the tiny village of Kilanga. I found the two missionaries, Nathan Price and Fyntan Fowles were amazing contrast. While one refused to adapt the Christian message to the Congo, the other took the traditions of the Congo and told the message of Christianity through those traditions. It's not surprising that one succeeded and thrived in Africa while the Congo destroyed the other.
Anyway, enough random ramblings. Read the book. It's good.
"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 a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.
The novel is set against one of the most dramatic political chronicles of the twentieth century: the Congo's fight for independence from Belgium, the murder of its first elected prime minister, the CIA coup to install his replacement, and the insidious progress of a world economic order that robs the fledgling African nation of its autonomy. Against this backdrop, Orleanna Price reconstructs the story of her evangelist husband's part in the Western assault on Africa, a tale indelibly darkened by her own losses and unanswerable questions about her own culpability. Also narrating the story, by turns, are her four daughters--the self-centered, teenaged Rachel; shrewd adolescent twins Leah and Adah; and Ruth May, a prescient five-year-old. These sharply observant girls, who arrive in the Congo with racial preconceptions forged in 1950s Georgia, will be marked in surprisingly different ways by their father's intractable mission, and by Africa itself. Ultimately each must strike her own separate path to salvation. Their passionately intertwined stories become a compelling exploration of moral risk and personal responsibility."
This was a book I could not put down. Very fascinating story about a missionary family in the Belgian Congo. It is told in chapters by each individual character's own words and feelings. There are 4 young daughters in the family and they each tell the story through their own eyes. It is also a story of life in the Belgian Congo at a certain time in history, and as usual, Barbara Kingsolver did a masterful storytelling job!
This is a wonderful book! It is a clear representation of the destruction of a family which probably never should have been created to start with. Very well written and very engaging. I enjoyed the book very much.
In 1959, Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist, takes his four young daughters, his wife, and his mission to the Belgian Congo, a place , he is sure, where he can save needy souls. But the seeds they plant bloom in tragic ways within this complex culture. Set againist one of the most dramatic political events of the 20th century.
This book was a little hard to get in to. I put it down twice, read something else, and came back to it. I'm so glad I finished it out. It's worth it in the end and really gave me a lot to think about as far as family, what I'd be willing to sacrifice, and my faith.
I have never had much interest in African history, but this book made me want to find out more. Her characters, as in her earlier books, are very well realized and fascinating. The story begins with the arrival in the Belgian Congo of Nathan Price, fire and brimstone Baptist preacher, and his reluctant family. The family's story is told by Nathan's wife, Orleanna, and their five daughters - shallow teen-age Rachel, twins Leah and Adah, and five-year-old Ruth May. The voices of the characters are authentic and believable.
I was absolutely spellbound by the way the voices changed and the way they stayed the same from the first to the last of the book. One believes in the characters, they change and grow as the book progresses.
I felt very complete when I finished the book. It was a satisfying experience.
I enjoyed this book very much, not only as a story but as political and cultural lessons too. Kingsolver does a good job at keeping the story believable through the eyes of the children. I would have given this book 5 stars except I feel that the last couple of chapters were used more as a soapbox, making it feel more like a lecture and less of a work of fiction. I agree with what Kingsolver is trying to express and she presents some views that I have never considered before. This book has change the way that I look at this world as a whole.
This is currently one of the best books I've read.
It's set in Africa in the 60s -- a missionary father takes his wife & 4 daughters to the Congo. The story details their lives there & after they leave. It is funny, touching, heartbreaking and gives a great snapshot of region's turmoil, based on real history.
Barbara Kingsolver always has strong themes of family and nature.
(Oprah's Book Club and New York Times Bestseller) This beautifully written novel is set during the time of Congo's fight for independence from Belgium. It is told by the wife and four daughters of a fierce, evangelical Baptist missionary who takes them to the Belgium Congo in 1959.
Story told from the point of view the wife and four daughter of fierce Baptist who takes his family to the Congo in 1959. Epic tale is a suspenseful account of one family's tragic undoing over three decades amidst the politics they get swept up in.
The political upheaval in the Congo in the 50's rings true today with Iraq, Chile and other countries where Amer. tries to control resources. A must read for every U.S. citizen. Wonderful read!
This book got me back into reading fiction again. Definetely one of my all-time favorites! I was constantly in suspense about what was going to happen next, and was never disappointed. This book is very insightful about racial and political struggles on the African continent. This book made a strong and lasting impression on me, and how I view our culture's impact on the rest of the world.
Pam C. reviewed Poisonwood Bible (Oprah's Book Club (Turtleback)) on
Yhis is a story told by the wife and 4 daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgina Congo in 1959. They carry with them everythin they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it-from garden seeds to Scripture-is calamitously transformed on Africn soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of 3 decades in postcolonial Africa. The novel is set against one of the most dramatic political chronicles of the 20th century; the Congo's fight for independence from Belgium, the murder of its first elected prime minister, the CIA coup to install his replacement, and the insidious progress of a world economic order that robs the fledgling African nation of its autonomy.
This is a great book. It is from the Oprahs book Club.It is about a missionary family in the Belgian congo in 1959.It is about all their trails and tribulations over a thirty year period. Excellant read!
The middle of this book was fantastic but the first and last 150 pages were tough to get through. While the slow opening was important to acclimate the reader to the culture I felt that the book could have ended much sooner and achieved the same effect.
I enjoyed the descriptions of Africa (having traveled to Africa several times) BUT found it extremely biased in it's description of the missionary family. Are there missionaries like this? Probably. But it is not the normal, as the book alludes to.
Melissa R. reviewed Poisonwood Bible (Oprah's Book Club (Turtleback)) on
This is a lovely book about a missionary family that moves to Africa and the troubles they face there. The book follows the four daughters, with brief narrative interludes from their mother, as they evolve and grow with the landscape around them.
This book is marvelous! Kingsolver's ability to tell a coherent story through the eyes (and words) of a father, mother, teenager, child, etc. is..is..is..it still takes my breath away. Be sure to have tissues nearby. The characters will touch your heart.
Loved this book. I had it for maybe a year before I was able to open it up and really get into it but after the first day I couldn't put it down. "The story is told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Babtist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Cango in 1959......" SOOOO GOOD
This novel tells the engrossing story of quirky, feverish Baptist preacher Nathan Price who hauls his family off on a mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. The story's narration is shared by his wife Orleanna and their four daughters, ages 5 - 15, who seem much too tender and naive to survive the trials of harsh conditions, poor housing, language barriers, cultural clashes, and natural antagonists. What results is an absorbing story set against the backdrop of political and religious upheaval.
This 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 bring what they think they need from home, but soon find that it is all calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.
One of Oprah's Book Club selections, 'The Poisonwood Bible' is Kingsolver at her best with regard to plot and character development. The story is 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.
"The Poisonwood Bible" is a classic that I simply didn't get around to reading when it came out. It is the story of a white missionary family led by a fanatical father intent on imposing his religion and culture on pagans. More than that, it is the story of three girls and their mother, who recognize the dangers, evil, and hypocrisy of this man but struggle with familial inertia until all is broken and lost. I may never be able to go to Africa, but by reading this book, I feel that the people of this village are my neighbors.
In 1959,Nathan Price, a fierce evangelical Baptist takes his wife and 4 young daughters to the Belgian Congo,a place, he is sure, where they can save needy souls. But the seeds they plant bloom in tragic ways within this complex culture. Set against one of the most dramatic political events of the 20th century, the Congo's fight for independence from Belgium and its devastating consequences-here is Barbara Kingsolver's beautiful,heartbreaking, and unforgettable epic that chronicles the disintegration of a family and a nation.
I have mixed reactions to Barbara Kingsolver. Sometimes I cannot get past the first 20 pages. This book drew me in because I had recently read "King Leopold's Ghost" and I was interested in other accounts of the Congo. The history I already had made it more readable, I probably would not have finished it without that background.
"The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and 4 daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them what they believe they will need but soon find all of it -- garden seeds to Scripture -- is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follow is an epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over 3 decades in postcolonial Africa."