Barbara Kingsolver's acclaimed international bestseller tells the story of an American missionary family in the Congo during a poignant chapter in African history. It spins the tale of the fierce evangelical Baptist, Nathan Price, who takes his wife and four daughters on a missionary journey into the heart of darkness of the Belgian Congo in 1959. ...
Barbara Kingsolver's acclaimed international bestseller tells the story of an American missionary family in the Congo during a poignant chapter in African history. It spins the tale of the fierce evangelical Baptist, Nathan Price, who takes his wife and four daughters on a missionary journey into the heart of darkness of the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them to Africa all they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it - from garden seeds to the King James Bible - is calamitously transformed on African soil. Told from the perspective of the five women, this is a compelling exploration of African history, religion, family, and the many paths to redemption. The Poisonwood Bible was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1999 and was chosen as the best reading group novel ever at the Penguin/Orange Awards. It continues to be read and adored by millions worldwide.
Interesting writing style. As told by individual characters...mostly the children of different ages. Parts are chilling and thought provoking.
May 6, 2011
This is a huge tale woven together using the Congo as a backdrop. The Congo is a place of many stories and this is the story of one families journey through Africa. There is mystery, tragedy, loss, love and the finding of oneself. It is a coming of age story. it's about four young women and their mother being taken from their comfortable, well known environment and throwing them into a hotbox, in which they have to re-learn how to live and survive. I would recommending reading this book as one of this decades contemporary writers. But I can understand why the author could not see this made into a two hour movie. There is just too much content to fit into that format and the climax is in the middle of the book.
Aug 13, 2010
One of the Best Books I've Read
I read this book years ago and still remember it as one of the best books I have ever read. I will likely read it again--which is rare for me-- but I remember the beauty of its prose and the power of the story and know that this is one book well worth reading and re-reading to capture its richness.
I think that those who don't "get" this book are the less-thinking and less-educated readers. No insult intended, its just that this is a BIG story by a great author and those who would enjoy the book most need to be at a higher level of reading and comprehension than the average reader.
Helen E. B
Jul 29, 2010
Kingsolver is always good
I did not know some of the political happenings in the Congo at the time this book was set in. But I love Barbara Kingsolver's way of writing and it was a satisfying story. It gave a personal touch to an African way of life that I would have no knowledge of if I had not read it.
Oct 7, 2007
In the 1960's Nathan Price, a Baptist minister, drags his family from Georgia to the Congo with the intent of converting the native "heathens" to Christianity. Arriving in the steaming jungle, they find themselves woefully unprepared to live there. Nathan's insistence on bringing the Congolese to Jesus without understanding them first is ultimately doomed to failure. The story is told in five voices: those of the mother and four daughters (three teens and a five-year-old), each with their own distinct style and personality. The different ways in which they all try to adjust to their new situation in a tiny African village is a telling story all by itself, humorous and tragic by turns. When political turmoil causes all the other missionaries to leave Africa, Nathan Price stubbornly refuses to go. His inflexibility and religious zeal bordering on fanaticism alienates the villagers and eventually his own family as well.
I absolutely love this book. It is brilliantly written. The language use is beautiful, the characters very realistic. It is a strong and vivid portrait of Africa in a time of struggle for independence. This is the kind of book that makes you really think. Each time I read it there are new details and things to ponder that I didn't notice before. It has some heavy themes, but the wry humor and wonderful descriptions of Africa and its people make it a joy to read.
Publishers Weekly, 1998-08-10 In this risky but resoundingly successful novel, Kingsolver leaves the Southwest, the setting of most of her work (The Bean Trees; Animal Dreams) and follows an evangelical Baptist minister's family to the Congo in the late 1950s, entwining their fate with that of the country during three turbulent decades. Nathan Price's determination to convert the natives of the Congo to Christianity is, we gradually discover, both foolhardy and dangerous, unsanctioned by the church administration and doomed from the start by Nathan's self-righteousness. Fanatic and sanctimonious, Nathan is a domestic monster, too, a physically and emotionally abusive, misogynistic husband and father. He refuses to understand how his obsession with river baptism affronts the traditions of the villagers of Kalinga, and his stubborn concept of religious rectitude brings misery and destruction to all. Cleverly, Kingsolver never brings us inside Nathan's head but instead unfolds the tragic story of the Price family through the alternating points of view of Orleanna Price and her four daughters. Cast with her young children into primitive conditions but trained to be obedient to her husband, Orleanna is powerless to mitigate their situation. Meanwhile, each of the four Price daughters reveals herself through first-person narration, and their rich and clearly differentiated self-portraits are small triumphs. Rachel, the eldest, is a self-absorbed teenager who will never outgrow her selfish view of the world or her tendency to commit hilarious malapropisms. Twins Leah and Adah are gifted intellectually but are physically and emotionally separated by Adah's birth injury, which has rendered her hemiplagic. Leah adores her father; Adah, who does not speak, is a shrewd observer of his monumental ego. The musings of five- year-old Ruth May reflect a child's humorous misunderstanding of the exotic world to which she has been transported. By revealing the story through the female victims of Reverend Price's hubris, Kingsolver also charts their maturation as they confront or evade moral and existential issues and, at great cost, accrue wisdom in the crucible of an alien land. It is through their eyes that we come to experience the life of the villagers in an isolated community and the particular ways in which American and African cultures collide. As the girls become acquainted with the villagers, especially the young teacher Anatole, they begin to understand the political situation in the Congo: the brutality of Belgian rule, the nascent nationalism briefly fulfilled in the election of the short-lived Patrice Lumumba government, and the secret involvement of the Eisenhower administration in Lumumba's assassination and the installation of the villainous dictator Mobutu. In the end, Kingsolver delivers a compelling family saga, a sobering picture of the horrors of fanatic fundamentalism and an insightful view of an exploited country crushed by the heel of colonialism and then ruthlessly manipulated by a bastion of democracy. The book is also a marvelous mix of trenchant character portrayal, unflagging narrative thrust and authoritative background detail. The disastrous outcome of the forceful imposition of Christian theology on indigenous natural faith gives the novel its pervasive irony; but humor is pervasive, too, artfully integrated into the children's misapprehensions of their world; and suspense rises inexorably as the Price family's peril and that of the newly independent country of Zaire intersect. Kingsolver moves into new moral terrain in this powerful, convincing and emotionally resonant novel. Agent, Frances Goldin; BOMC selection; major ad/promo; author tour. (Nov.)
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