Saturday, April 2, 2011

Book 11

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

I have a general rule when it comes to reading. If I'm not entirely encapsulated by the book or novel within 100 pages, I put it back on the shelf and move on. But, but page 100 of The Poisonwood Bible, I had already learned so much about life in the Congo, I had forgotten about my rule.

This novel (and I say novel hesitantly, because novels are works of fiction, and I wish that The Poisonwood Bible were based on some true tale), follows five women: daughters Rachel, Leah, Adah, Ruth May, and mother Orleanna, as they grudgingly venture on a mission into the Congo jungle with there less-than-acceptable religious preacher father, Nathan Price. The author is able to tell the story where each individual chapter is from the point of view of one of the five girls, and she manages to make each of their 'voices' differently - different attitudes, different believes. I caught myself favouring with one particular sister over the other, and couldn't wait until the next chapter began.

In the most generalized summary, the novel shows the Congo in the heat of religious imperialism, where the Price family attempts to 'save' Congo people from their evil ways, and results in the fall of Father Price instead, who turns on his family, his daughters, and his wife. The author integrates historical evidence from that time into the story, relates it to the Price's demise, and manages to carry it through to the last chapter.

My favourite protagonist? Adah. The twin sister who kept quiet under the assumption that she could not talk, limped behind the rest of her sisters under the assumption that she could not walk, and, in the end, surpassed all the four sisters in success and establishment in her experience in the Congo. She wholeheartedly has no belief in God or christianity, and considering the circumstances, this is not at all surprising.

She continually questioned her father's authority, and tells about when she questioned a God that condemned people based on the colour of the skin or where they were born. She was put on her knees to pray for her soul and, when she gets up, says: "When I finally got up with sharps grains imbedded in my knees, I found, to my surprise, that I no longer believed in God."

All in all, it was an incredibly knowledgeable book, one that I would recommend to anyone who has an open mind about religion, Africa, and understanding of cultures unlike our own.


  1. It took me a couple of tries to get settled into this book, but once I did, I found it a fascinating read. It definitely opened my eyes to the Western idea that everyone's "problems" need our solutions. Good read for sure!


    P.S. I think my favourite was Leah. She was the other twin right? I liked that she stayed.

  2. Yes! Leah was definitely my second favourite. I tried to read this book once before, and had the same problem. I couldn't get into it. But second time's the charm!


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