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The Poisonwood Bible
The Poisonwood Bible
Author: Barbara Kingsolver
In 1959, Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist, takes his four young daughters, his wife, and his mission to the Belgian Congo -- a place, he is sure, where he can save needy souls. But the seeds they plant bloom in tragic ways within this complex culture. Set against one of the most dramatic political events of the twentieth century -- th...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780060512828
ISBN-10: 0060512822
Publication Date: 2/1/2003
Pages: 672
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.

4.1 stars, based on 432 ratings
Publisher: HarperTorch
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Members Wishing: 1
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on
Helpful Score: 11
Primo selection for long plane flights; Kingsolver gets off to a slow start; you have to get into it about 50 pages, and then you are hooked. Each character seems normal and eventually is revealed for the bizarre creature he or she actually is. Gradually sensing and "watching" this family crack up in the middle of Africa is hilarious and deep.The character of Nathan is rich--he just can't "get" why the indigenous people do NOT want, or need his religion. Once he realizes this truth, his mind slowly sizzles to a snap , and his family merrily rolls along.
loverm47 avatar reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on
Helpful Score: 8
This is without a doubt one of the best fictional works I've read in some time. It is done from a unique and multiple narrative perspective. I grabs your heart from the first few chapters till the very last, will hold your attention and thoughts for quite some time.
reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on
Helpful Score: 8
This is my all time favorite book. I've read it twice and it enjoyed it both times. The characters are well developed and I loved the way she wrote in five separate voices. This is one of the few books that sparked a long and involved discussion in my book club and though some liked it and others didn't, everyone was moved by it.
reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on + 18 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
I found this book enjoyable, if not extraordinary. The story of an eccentric Southern minister out to save souls by dragging his wife and daughters to the Congo in the turbulent 1960's.

The multiple perspectives created a complex web of truths that could not have been discerned if the author had chosen to tell the story from one character. While that was a definite positive, I did find some of the character's perspectives to be tiring and struggled to get through their chapters. The political overtones balanced well with the colorful personal struggles of each of the daughters. Overall it was a very good book, but I had to make myself get through the last quarter or so. It would have benefited from being about 100 pages shorter.
SASgirl526 avatar reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on + 12 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
A book written from 5 points of view? musing on word families in african languages? evaluating ancient cultural customs from a 1960's southern baptist perspective? telling the history of an African (euro-african?) nation from the inside out?
Fantastic!! This book has well-conceived characters with unique differences that anyone with a sibling will appreciate, and its setting in Zaire in the 1960's walks you through the tumultuous events that shaped Africa into what it is today. Read this book if you loved the movie "Blood Diamond." My favorite quote: "No other continent has endured such an unspeakably bizarre combination of foreign thievery and foreign goodwill."(pg 528)
A perfect read if you enjoy an intense, thought-provoking book.
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reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on + 2 more book reviews
This is a great book. This book is a hardcover copy.
reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on + 18 more book reviews
This is a hardback book
gamaw avatar reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on + 99 more book reviews
This is a wonderful book! It is a clear representation of the destruction of a family which probably never should have been created to start with. Very well written and very engaging. I enjoyed the book very much.
reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on + 2 more book reviews
Everyone interested in the Congo, or the missionary era in Africa, should read this book. It is one of Kingsolver's most powerful works.
clebbin avatar reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on + 3 more book reviews
I have never had much interest in African history, but this book made me want to find out more. Her characters, as in her earlier books, are very well realized and fascinating. The story begins with the arrival in the Belgian Congo of Nathan Price, fire and brimstone Baptist preacher, and his reluctant family. The family's story is told by Nathan's wife, Orleanna, and their five daughters - shallow teen-age Rachel, twins Leah and Adah, and five-year-old Ruth May. The voices of the characters are authentic and believable.

I was absolutely spellbound by the way the voices changed and the way they stayed the same from the first to the last of the book. One believes in the characters, they change and grow as the book progresses.

I felt very complete when I finished the book. It was a satisfying experience.
perryfran avatar reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on + 1172 more book reviews
I remember reading a review of this novel in the Washington Post when it was first published in 1998. I have been meaning to read it ever since then and I know I have owned more than one copy of this that seemed to have gotten away from me during one of our moves. Anyway, I'm glad I finally got around to reading this. The novel is set in the Congo starting in about 1960 and tells the story of the Price family from Georgia who go there following the father of clan who is an overzealous Baptist missionary who feels it is his purpose to save everyone he can to the light of Jesus Christ. The novel is narrated by the mother Orelanna and her four daughters, Rachel, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May. The Congo is not as the family expected and is full of hardship and grief. The people there are mostly starving, the jungle is full of danger including snakes, leopards, and insects that cause diseases such as malaria. There are also driver ants: "We were walking on, surrounded, enclosed, enveloped, being eaten by ants. Every surface was covered and boiling, and the path like black flowing lava in the moonlight..." The four children react differently to their father's work but when poisonous snakes are planted in their house, they try to convince him to leave. He refuses and a tragedy results which instigates Orelanna and her daughters to leave. The novel goes on to describe what happens to the three daughters in a rather long ending section.

The novel is also an indictment of colonialism and the Belgium exploitation of the Congo and its people. When the country obtains independence in 1960, the people hope for a better life. However, things may have gotten worse. The U.S. helped to install the dictator Joseph Mobutu who bled the country to pay for his mansions and wealth. While he paid Muhammed Ali and George Forman $5 million each to stage a prize fight in what was then Zaire, the people of the country were starving. The plight of the African people in the Congo is very heartrending and things don't seem to have gotten much better to this day.

Overall, this was a very enlightening look at the Congo and the situation there. The population has been exploited ever since the Portuguese first discovered the Congo river in the sixteenth century. The novel discusses these many downsides to European and U.S. involvement in trying to govern this vast wilderness and how the country has been raped for its resources for centuries. A high recommendation for this one although I thought the last part of the novel could have been shortened quite a bit. The story seemed to have an ending when the family leaves the Congo but the novel goes on for over 100 more pages telling what happened to the mother and daughters. I also read another very pertinent book about the Congo several months ago that I would also recommend highly: BLOOD RIVER by Tim Butcher.
reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on + 8 more book reviews
My favorite read ever - love the way Barbara Kingsolver writes so that each person has her/his own voice through her words and writing technique.
reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on + 15 more book reviews
one of my favorite books. it swept me away and i enjoyed the entire journey!
reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on + 3 more book reviews
I liked this book. It took a bit to get into but once I did, I really enjoyed it. I think it's a lot longer than it needs to be but would definitely recommend it.
slothmold avatar reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on + 38 more book reviews
This is a tale of a blindly driven missionary and his diverse, unwilling family thrust deep into the Congo and subsequently abandoned by what they see as civilization. It is deep, important, well-researched, and the characters strike uncomfortably close to home. I think I liked this book LESS because the wholly realistic characters were so much like people I know.
UALabGeek avatar reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on + 46 more book reviews
This is on my top 10 list of all-time best books I've read. I've bought at least five copies in my life specifically to give away. The characters, the plot, the settings are all so haunting that images from the book drift into my mind years later.

It's a story of a young missionary and his family who go to the war-torn Congo thinking that they can change it and end up themselves profoundly and irrevocably changed by the experience. It's hysterically funny and devastatingly tragic and thoroughly fascinating. I can't recommend it enough.
cplizza avatar reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on + 12 more book reviews
Reading this book was a love/hate relationship. It was riveting and held me in it's trance until the last page was turned.
katzpawz avatar reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on + 281 more book reviews
This story, told from the P.O.V. of a young girl raised in a religious fanatic home is beautifully written. She is uprooted from her "normal" life and taken to Africa. Life changes instantly, maturity comes slowly - and at great price. Grace under life pressure doesn't really sum it up well - maybe gracelessness under insanity. The mood is serious, but you must smile with her through her life.
sharrona avatar reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on + 207 more book reviews
Enlightening story, great use of language
reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on + 5 more book reviews
Enjoyed it. thank you.
curledupwithabook avatar reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on + 169 more book reviews
Written in the voices of each of the primary characters, this novel reaches into your gut and grabs you. Ms. Kingsolver allows each of her wounded women to tell her heart-wrenching story, and that of Africa, without judgement - that's for the reader to render. To be sure, not one of the women, the mother and her daughters, was left unchanged by the experiences in the Congo. A rich tale that both informs and entertains. Ms. Kingsolver spares no detail in describing the horrific conditions that were (and to great extent still are) the norm in the Congo. The novel is part horror story and part love story. I highly recommend this engrossing tale.
reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on + 4 more book reviews
Wonderful book...Excellent story that will stay with you long after you finish the book. Kingsolver is truly an artist - she crafts a story with an unparalleled use of language and imagery. A MUST read!
reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on + 14 more book reviews
Barbara Kingsolver's best work. A departure from her usual setting, and told from various points of view, it is a great book.

It is an adventure into Africa, and into the minds of a family. Mesmerizing and fulfilling to read.
reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on + 11 more book reviews
Characters jump off the page. Descriptions of Africa and the people that inhabit this country portrays the extreme poverty, sadness but the amazing resilience of those who live and love this country. A novel that reads like a journal that you don't want to put down.
reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on + 720 more book reviews
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 reconstruciton over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.
reviewed The Poisonwood Bible on + 102 more book reviews
Excellent book. Took a little bit to get into, but once into it, it is a great story like all her books