Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Poisonwood Bible | Barbara Kingsolver

This is a great story. It has everything in it to make us forget to eat and drink as it transports us to Africa.

There are some seriously troubled people in this book who seek redemption and who progress through life creating chaos and disturbing us at every turn. Meet the Prices, a missionary family from Georgia in 1959 who move to the Belgian Congo. They arrive full of zeal and self-righteousness. The image of them getting off the plane is indelibly fixed in my mind as it’s so beautifully drawn in words. They are wearing most of their clothes layered one on the other, with pockets full of small domestic implements…The story is narrated by the five women in the family, Orleanna who is the mother and her daughters Rachel, Leah, Adah and Ruth May.

The father tries to convert and change the natives. And slowly goes troppo. The children try to cope with being uprooted from southern USA to deepest darkest Africa and a father who is slowly loosing all sense of reality. There are mutinous natives, ferocious animal and murderous insects as well as the political turmoil Congo goes through in the 1960’s.
As the girls grow up they become aware of the complexity of the natives and their culture and embrace them. The father, however, cannot. Eventually tragedy ensues and the Price women flee and leave him to his folly. Their story is followed through to the 1990’s.
It’s a brilliantly written book a story which delivers at every turn. Kingsolver has a wonderful gift for poignancy and storytelling.

I went on to read all of her books and have enjoyed them all.
“Prodigal Summer”, “The Bean Tree’, “Pigs in Heaven’, ‘The Lacuna’.

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