Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (Jill)

The Poisonwood Bible
By Barbara Kingsolver
Completed January 19, 2010

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver was the story of the Price family who lived in the Congo during the country’s quest for independence. The Prices, led by their patriarch, Nathan, traveled from Georgia to Congo on a Baptist mission. Nathan was hell-bent to convert the “savages” to Christianity, dragging his reluctant wife and four daughters to West Africa to fulfill his desire to be a Good Man.

The story was told by the four female Prices – and their views on Nathan were less than stellar. Only his wife, Orleanna, occasionally offered a different view of the man who was depicted so terribly by others. This brings me to my first wish for The Poisonwood Bible - that Nathan had his own voice. He probably would have remained a dispicable character, but I think it would have added more dimension to him.

My second wish for The Poisonwood Bible was for it to be shorter. This is often my gripe for books greater than 350 pages. For certain, Kingsolver did a great job keeping the story’s momentum to page 350. However, the last 150 pages or so were hard to read. A great tragedy occurred in the Price family, the climax was reached, but the story kept going. I felt the last 150 pages were Kingsolver’s attempt to tell more about Congolese history than the Prices’ story. Having read Kingsolver’s essays, I know she often is disappointed with the United States’ involvement in foreign counties. As I finished those last 150 pages, I couldn’t help but think those pages were written more to advance Kingsolver’s views than good storytelling.

So, a book needing more dimension, less pages and less political agendas would normally not be considered a good book by me, but that is not the case for The Poisonwood Bible. It was a good book, filled with lively characters, an elucidation of Congolese traditions and an exploration on what happens to countries bullied by larger powers. Kingsolver is a gifted writer, and I look forward to reading more of her stories. ( )


Jules said...

It took me about two years to finish that book... never read anything else from that author since! I should try again, I was younger, maybe I missed something...

Lisa said...

Why are there so many books that seem to go on and on after the climax is reached? Enough all ready, wrap it up!