Read The Poisonwood Bible Online by Barbara Kingsolver
Click Here to Download the Book 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 itâ€”from garden seeds to Scriptureâ€”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.
Reviews I know I've tried to read this book at least two other times in the past few years. I used to have a copy and finally gave it away because I thought I'd never read it. Then my book club announced that it would be our October read so I decided to give it another shot. The third time is definitely a charm because at 50 pages in I was hooked and pretty much read it anytime I could until I finished all 541 pages! It's about a family in the late 1950's who decides to go live in The Congo for a year as missionaries - really the father decides and his wife and 4 daughters are dragged along with him. Their experience there is interesting, traumatic, tragic and just plain absorbing. Barbara Kingsolver's writing is enchanting. Usually if an author goes on and on in their descriptions, I tend to get bored and skip ahead a bit but I actually re-read some of her words because it was just so beautiful. The history of the Congo is fascinating and about half-way through the book I got on the internet to refresh my memory of their history and what was happening in real life during the time period of the book. While the characters are fictitious, Kingsolver kept to the true history of the Congo. The political unrest and the rape of the countries natural resources by various countries including the US was hard to read about but lined up with history. The story is written mostly from the 4 daughters' point of view. It begins a section with observations from the mother, Orleanna, but mostly is focused on the 4 girls - Rachel, Leah, Adah and little Ruth May. Each girl has a different personality and voice and I think my favorite overall was Leah. It was so interesting to view this through their eyes. It affected each girl differently but to be sure this decision their father made to take them to the Congo changed their family and each of their lives irrevocably. The father's missionary zeal was really over the top. I didn't take offense at it but other reviewers have mentioned that they feel like the author was trying to push some agenda in the book. I didn't feel that way. The father was completely off base in his interpretation of scripture and his attitude and actions were deplorable. I hope the author doesn't view all Christians this way but if she does, that's her prerogative. If someone like his character was my only exposure to Christianity, I definitely wouldn't be where I am today. It is a tough read....definitely not light and happy. Be prepared for that but I highly recommend it!
I've read "The Poisonwood Bible" ten times now, and every single time I get absolutely sucked into the story and the characters and the depth of everything Kingsolver showcases throughout the narrative. The book starts in 1960, and the Price family, led by patriarch Pastor Nathan Price, are headed into Kilanga, a tiny village in the Congo. From there it becomes a sweeping narrative of family, uncertainty, and politics of every stripe, from family strife to village questions to the national upheaval that came when the Congo was granted independence from Belgium in 1961. More interesting than Kingsolver's deeply researched novel (the Bibliography takes up four or five pages at the end of the book), is how she draws her characters. There are four daughters in the Price family, each of them beautifully drawn out and with a mind of her own. They tell the story, with occasional chapters from the perspective of their mother, and they are all rich and layered, actual women who happen to be living a fascinating and sometimes terrible life. You may not love all of the women by the end of the book, but you won't be able to argue that they're not unique and fascinating. A book that gets even more interesting every time I read it; that's the absolute best I can say about it.
I absolutely loved this book. Kingsolver's prose is superb and I was engrossed in the story. That I learned a lot about Congo and the natural history of that part of Africa plus the transition to the independent country of Zaire was a bonus. Her characters are like flesh and blood people, not only the main characters but also many of the villagers. The story is about a Georgia family, Rev. and Mrs. Price and their four daughters who go to a small village in Congo where Rev. Price, a hellfire and damnation preacher, thinks he will save everyone and make their lives whole. The villagers don't really want or need his kind of Christianity, and they certainly will not go into the river to be baptized - crocodiles live there and have eaten people. Price is hateful, deluded, and an abusive husband and father. The story is told by his wife and daughters, fittingly since they are the ones facing the reality of life in Congo. Each is unique and their voices in their own chapters are delightful. They face a whole new culture, deprivation, drought, driver ants, snakes, and political and natural upheaval and we learn of these things from the point of view of each of them. I do recommend this book and I'm going to find her other books to read now that I know how wonderful a writer she is.
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