Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver - Review


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The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver tells the story of an Evangelical Baptist family on a mission trip to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They take everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it — from seeds to Scripture — is calamitously transformed they arrive at their new home.

I already know I will not be able to do this novel justice in my review, but I honestly loved this story even if it could be difficult to like at times. Barbara Kingsolver is simply a brilliant storyteller. Although my basic summary at the top is just a few lines long, the novel itself spans approximately fifty years and is narrated in turns by all five in the women in the Price family. It's also set during a political crisis as the Congo fought for independence and autonomy - Kingsolver has clearly done a good deal of research on the topic.

As much as I enjoy the historical detail going into this novel, I particularly enjoyed the five part P.O.V. My two favorites are easily Adah and Rachel. By the time I finished, I surprised myself to realize how much I enjoyed reading Rachel's perspective on events since she's pretty despicable (and changes the least of any character), but she can sure describe what's going on with her family. The shared story between these women paints an excellent character study. It is also a fantastic study in colonialism and post-colonialism, especially when you consider where Nathan Price and his family come from and their role (as well as America's and Europe's) in the Congo. If only Nathan himself had a point of view chapter. I would have loved to have gotten a look directly into his head, even though we do get a fantastic look from the outside in via his family.

Although it can be dense and may come off as a bit heavy-handed at times, The Poisonwood Bible is truly an epic masterpiece. If you haven't yet read this novel, I highly recommend you do so, especially if you enjoy reading Louise Erdrich or Margaret Atwood.


I read this book from December 26, 2014 - January 4, 2015 and my review is also on Goodreads.

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