The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible

A Novel

Book - 1998
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Baker & Taylor
The family of a fierce evangelical Baptist missionary--Nathan Price, his wife, and his four daughters--begins to unravel after they embark on a 1959 mission to the Belgian Congo, where they find their lives forever transformed over the course of three decades by the political and social upheaval of Africa. 300,000 first printing. Tour.

HARPERCOLL

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.

Dancing between the dark comedy of human failings and the breathtaking possibilities of human hope, The Poisonwood Bible possesses all that has distinguished Barbara Kingsolver's previous work, and extends this beloved writer's vision to an entirely new level. Taking its place alongside the classic works of postcolonial literature, this ambitious novel establishes Kingsolver as one of the most thoughtful and daring of modern writers.

Baker
& Taylor

The family of a fierce evangelical Baptist missionary--Nathan Price, his wife, and his four daughters--begins to unravel after they embark on a 1959 mission to the Belgian Congo, where they find their lives transformed over the course of three decades

Publisher: New York : HarperFlamingo, 1998
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780060175405
0060175400
9780060930530
0060930535
9780060512828
0060512822
9780060786502
0060786507
Characteristics: 546 p. ; 24 cm

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b
behere
Oct 18, 2017

Kingsolver describes clothing and hobbies, embroidery, hope chests, etc. for the time period spot on.
A sad and so often true depiction of how missionaries try to impose their own culture on the people they profess to want to help. On a personal note, I observed an uncle doing this in Fiji and Palau. In the 1950s, he was a missionary in Hawaii and a cousin of mine died there. So, this book really resonates with me.

AL_STEFFEN Jan 09, 2017

This was a really fascinating read for me. Kingsolver's prose was complex and nuanced, thanks to her decision to narrate this book from the POV of four sisters and their mother - reluctant transients to the Belgian Congo in 1960, dragged there by their brutal and pious missionary father/husband.
Here are some details that struck me.
Plain green bushes bursting into riotous bloom and revealing themselves to be Poinsettias.
The sky blue mouth of the Green Mamba.
Congolese children with big bellies appeared that way because of malnutrition, their abdominal walls were undeveloped so their internal organs spilled into their bellies.
Ruthless violence and politics in the pursuit of diamonds.
Orleanna Price walking barefoot on the Georgia coast, gazing across the Atlantic, glaring at and longing for Africa both.

j
joellendavis
Jul 12, 2016

I always recommend this book to others. One of my favorites.

PimaLib_CinthiaT May 11, 2016

I will never get overt this book as long as I live. The impact of this religious man on his missionary family is unforgettable.

QueequegOfSeattle Feb 15, 2016

One of my all-time favorites.

Kereesa Sep 16, 2015

Screw accuracy! Let's all read a romantic version of history filled with white-guilt, strong-not-strong female characters, stereotypes, and a bad guy/good guy narrative. There, don't you feel better?

Okay, okay. In all seriousness this book wasn't terrible. It just pissed me off.

m
mogie
Aug 09, 2015

This book had been repeatedly recommended to me. I don't know why. This book was terrible exept for the last 200 pages and even then it wasn't worth the read for the ending. I skimmed a lot of this book. I didn't like the writing style. Couldn't stand any of the characters and the plot dragged.

o
olemissann
Jan 13, 2015

Captivating book about the Congo, an American Missionary Family, and how lives can be changed with each decision made. The story is presented by the four daughters and their mother. It is not a fast or easy read, but it is one you will not soon forget because of the symbolism, beautiful descriptions, and wisdom scattered throughout the book.

WVMLStaffPicks Oct 25, 2014

A departure from her more familiar Southwest settings, Kingsolver takes us to the Africa of 1959 which we see through the eyes of four missionary daughters and their mother. Each voice is clear and consistent with its unique look at daily survival in a remote village in the Congo: the jungle, the people, beliefs, traditions, sowing and reaping and the drums bringing politics from beyond their small world. The reader is mesmerized by the enormous effect over the next decades of their brief years together in the overwhelming presence that is Africa.

lbarkema Aug 01, 2014

This was so well written and a vivid portrait of colonial/post-colonial Africa. I am giving it 4.5 and not 5 full stars only because the last 1/4 was a bit slower for me and I guess I just wanted to know more about the years in between instead of skipping ahead 5 years, and then 10 years, and so on. But really this was engaging, beautiful, terrible, frustrating (I'm not sure I have loathed a character more than Nathaniel Price-except maybe Holden Caulfield), and such a worthwhile read. I am always interested in learning more about the history of the African continent and this just spurs my interest even more! I may have to add some books on the history of the Congo. I highly recommend this book.

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vv8
Jun 01, 2015

vv8 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Mee2 Sep 20, 2011

Mee2 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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b
behere
Oct 18, 2017

In Congo, it seems the land owns the people. p 283

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