Sunday 5 January 2020

Book Review: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (Historical Fiction)

Title: The Poisonwood Bible
Author: Barbara Kingsolver
Faber & Faber

Publication Date: 2017 (1998)
Historical Fiction
Xmas Gift


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 Poisonwood Bible was an interesting read in many ways. What I enjoyed most was the way Kingsolver gave such distinctive voices to each of the narrators; that really made the characters come to life on the page. The book as a whole is very well written and nicely paced. However, I did struggle to really care about the events taking place. Although I appreciated the construction of each character, I didn't connect with any of them on any deeper level and towards the end in particular, once they had left the Congo, I became tempted to skim through pages a little to get to the end. I am giving this book 3.5 stars overall, which I will round up to a 4 in acknowledgment of the excellent character depiction through narrative voice.

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