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The Poisonwood Bible cover art

The Poisonwood Bible

By: Barbara Kingsolver
Narrated by: Dean Robertson
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Summary

“A powerful new epic... [Kingsolver] has with infinitely steady hands worked the prickly threads of religion, politics, race, sin and redemption into a thing of terrible beauty.” - Los Angeles Times Book Review

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. 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.

©1998 by Barbara Kingsolver. (P)1998 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

Critic reviews

"Haunting...A novel of character, a narrative shaped by keen-eyed women." (New York Times Book Review)

"Beautifully written....Kingsolver's tale of domestic tragedy is more than just a well-told yarn.. Played out against the bloody backdrop of political struggles in Congo that continue to this day, it is also particularly timely." (People)

"The book's sheer enjoyability is given depth by Kingsolver's insight and compassion for Congo, including its people, and their language and sayings." (Boston Globe)

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Compelling

This is a compelling, multi-layered novel. It tells the story of Nathan Price, a bigoted Baptist minister who takes his wife and four daughters away from the comfort of their American home to the diseased and famine ridden Congo. This move eventually leads to tragedy and to the break-up of the family. Although sad in parts it's not a heavy listen - it's hard to put down as it's written with great humour, particularly the passages relating to the eldest daughter Rachel with all her Malapropisms.
My only criticism is that the author spent far too long expounding her political views in the last quarter of the book. Those views of the ignorance of imperialism speak for themselves through the story. Aside from that, well worth the read, thought provoking and interesting from the historical perspective.

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24 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Intriguing story

Any additional comments?

This is a great story told cleverly through different eyes. I really enjoyed it, but the narrator didn't making it clear whose story she was telling because one chapter heading followed as if it were the next sentence without pausing. On numerous occasions I had to re-wind to check whose story I was now hearing. Thankfully it was such a good tale that it transcended the poor narration.

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9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Poisonwood Bible

I read this book years ago, and enjoyed it, but having just listened to it via audible, I have picked up on so many more nuances and clever tricks of language that I missed in the dense text of hard copy. Kingsolver is the mistress of words that can mean more than one thing, indeed she creates a character who makes meanings of words that are read backwards! Even the title is a play on the dual meaning of the word the preacher uses for Jesus - in the tribal language of the congolese people he is trying to convert, it means poisonwood - a deadly plant that will kill you. His ignorance, however, is foiled by the understanding of his wife and four daughters, each of whom have their own narrative voice and story. An absolutely compelling story that is at once a celebration of freedom and independence and a tragic exposition of social prejudice and expectation. Not a light read, but certainly one not to be missed!

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2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

One of the best books ever!

Extremely well written, interesting, witty, informative, unforgettable. I found the narration a bit too fast sometimes.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A must-read / listen

One of the most poignant books I’ve read in a while. The narration is incredible.
Kingsolver has accomplished a massive feat with this novel - it educated me on the DRC and its erstwhile years, the impact of the missionaries and interfering western countries in this nation. Thoroughly informative and enjoyable.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wow

Beautiful, fascinating and devastating story told wittily and authentically through the eyes of full rounded characters

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant, astonishing novel

Profound novel that seems to reset the very bones in one's body! Unlike most of the narrator reviews I found the narrator's performance thoroughly well and competently done, it kept me spellbound for the 15+ hours.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Essential listening

So brilliantly written. Compassionate & beautiful. Also funny! And essential listening if you are interested in the legacy of colonialism in Africa.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful novel

This was a fascinating and beautifully written novel...spoilt in part by a narrator who didn't do it justice.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great listen

Well written and beautifully read - my first try of the author and certainly not the last

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