The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver, 2005)

poisonwood bible

Why did you choose this book?

Every spring, the library hosts an LEI (Learning Enrichment Institute) class for people over age 50.  Our theme this year was Around the World in 80 Books.  So each librarian or manager was assigned a continent and I received Africa.  I am sad to say I didn’t read every book on my list, but I did attempt a few and finished two.  This is one of those two, because although it took me forever, it’s a classic and I had to finish it.

What’s it about?

In short, a family arriving in the Congo as missionaries.

More in-depth: Nathan Price and his family of daughters arrive in a tiny village to serve as missionaries.  Nathan is a bit of a bully.  His wife, Orleanna, is just along for the ride.  Rachel is the prissy oldest daughter who believes herself the center of the world.  Leah is a twin, a tomboy, and desperate to win her father’s praise.  Adah is a twin and doesn’t speak due to a disability.  Ruth May is the littlest and a typical and precocious youngster.  The novel follows these women throughout their lives and into adulthood.


Historical fiction

Other recommended reads?

I’m struggling with this one a little because it doesn’t really remind me of anything else I’ve read.  I want to say The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough, but not having read it, I could be totally off-base.


It took me about 350 pages to really become invested in this book, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down.  Of all the books I talked about in our LEI class, this one felt the most immersive to me.  Kingsolver describes the landscape and the characters living in the town, rather than just maintaining inner monologues of her central family of characters.  It was also nice to get the outsider perspective – the members of the family were also outsiders to Africa.  Most of the other books were written from the point of view of people who grew up in Africa, so the sights and sounds were normal to them.  I completely understand why it’s a modern classic, and I appreciate the historical upheavals incorporated into the narrative, but I don’t think I’ll be rereading this novel.

Up next?

A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie


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