Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Poisonwood Bible

This is our first book for our KWAW Book Club. I have chosen "The Poisonwood Bible" written by Barbara Kingsolver in 1998. I really enjoyed reading this book and as I read it, I kept thinking that my family would really like this book, too. I hope I'm wright. I have not been blessed with the other Wright girls' gift to review books and movies. I'm terrible at it. So, I've copied a review from the internet hoping that it would give you a good idea of what this book is about. I also included some 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 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. Against this backdrop, Orleanna Price reconstructs the story of her evangelist husband's part in the Western assault on Africa, a tale indelibly darkened by her own losses and unanswerable questions about her own culpability. Also narrating the story, by turns, are her four daughters—the self-centered, teenaged Rachel; shrewd adolescent twins Leah and Adah; and Ruth May, a prescient five-year-old. These sharply observant girls, who arrive in the Congo with racial preconceptions forged in 1950s Georgia, will be marked in surprisingly different ways by their father's intractable mission, and by Africa itself. Ultimately each must strike her own separate path to salvation. Their passionately intertwined stories become a compelling exploration of moral risk and personal responsibility.

Dancing between the dark comedy of human failings and the breathtaking possibilities of human hope, The Poisonwood Bible possesses all that has distinguished Barbara Kingsolver's previous work, and extends this beloved writer's vision to an entirely new level. 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.

Critics' Praise

“There are few ambitious, successful and beautiful novels. Lucky for us, we have one now, in Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible . . . this awed reviewer hardly knows where to begin.”

“Haunting … A novel of character, a narrative shaped by keen-eyed women.”

“Barbara Kingsolver has dreamed a magnificent fiction and a ferocious bill of indictment. … What we have here—with this new, mature, angry, heartbroken, expansive out-of-Africa Kingsolver—is at last our very own Lessing and our very own Gordimer.”

“Fully realized, richly embroidered, triumphant.”

“Kingsolver’s powerful new book is actually an old-fashioned nineteenth-century novel, a Hawthornian tale of sin and redemption and the ‘dark necessity’ of history.”

“A powerful new epic. … She has with infinitely steady hands worked the prickly threads of religion, politics, race, sin, and redemption into a thing of terrible beauty.”

“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.”

“Kingsolver is a gifted magician of words.”

“Tragic and remarkable. … A novel that blends outlandish experience with Old Testament rhythms of prophecy and doom.”

“The book’s sheer enjoyability is given depth by Kingsolver’s insight and compassion for Congo, including its people and their language and sayings.”

“Most impressive are the humor and insight with which Kingsolver describes a global epic, proving just how personal the political can be.”

“Compelling, lyrical and utterly believable.”

“A triple-decker, different coming-of-age novel, but also a clever look at language and cultures.”

“A bravura performance. … A subtle and complex creation, dealing with epic subjects with invention and courage and a great deal of heart.”

“A novel that brims with excitement and rings with authority.”

“Kingsolver’s work is a magnum opus, a parable encompassing a biblical structure and a bibliography, and a believable cast of African characters.”

Back to Amy: I really was captivated by Kingsolver's writing. She's amazing. I love how the 5 women in this story narrate the book, each in their own voice and style. Brilliant. This book also shows the arrogance of Western civilization and what happens when other governments try to interfere, thinking they can "fix" what's wrong in other countries. Well, I hope you all enjoy the book. We will have through the month of May to read and then we will start discussing in early June. Happy reading!


Emily said...

Sounds good Aim. Funny, I read that you just cut and pasted the review, but at about 1/3 of the way through I thought to myself- Amy is a GREAT reviewer! What is she talking about??- (I remembered the "you said you weren't good at it" part, and promptly forgot the other part). Heehee.

Haley said...

Haha that's funny. I'm so excited for the book club! Excited to read this book, it sounds really good.

Dan W said...

Can't wait!

Matt said...

The clomid overdosing Canadians got to Emily agian. Enjoy your family book club. Should be a lot of fun when monkeys fly out of my butt.