The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible

A Novel

Book - 1998
Average Rating:
Rate this:
The drama of a U.S. missionary family in Africa during a war of decolonization. At its center is Nathan Price, a self-righteous Baptist minister who establishes a mission in a village in 1959 Belgian Congo. The resulting clash of cultures is seen through the eyes of his wife and his four daughters. By the author of Pigs in Heaven.
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780060175405
Branch Call Number: KINGSOLVER
Characteristics: x, 546 pages ; 25 cm


Featured Blogs and Events

Books Authors Recommend: Part I

Ever wonder what authors recommend? Find out what authors like Ernest Hemingway, Maya Angelou, Stephen King, Tana French and F. Scott Fitzgerald enjoyed reading. What will you add to your to-be-read pile? STEPHEN KING Author of It, The Shining, The Dark Tower, The Green Mile War and Peace Heart of Darkness Atonement The Secret History No Country for Old Men JENNIFER EGAN Author of A… (more)

From Library Staff

If you're drawn to family stories, pick up this bestselling novel about a family of daughters on a mission trip to the Belgian Congo in the late 1950s. Kingsolver is particularly known for her lovely prose.

Also read in 2000: A Prayer for Owen Meany (Irving);
Walking Across Egypt (Edgerton);
In the Time of Butterflies (Alvarez);
The Reader (Schlink);
Arrowsmith (Lewis);
Charlotte Gray (Faulks);
The Member of the Wedding (McCullers);
Tomboy Bride (Backus);
Eleventh Commandment (Archer).

“Don’t try to make life a mathematics problem with yourself in the center and everything coming out equal. When you’re good, bad things can still happen. And if you’re bad, you can still be lucky.”

List - Serpensortia
ArapahoeSteffen Dec 05, 2016

Amazing, amazing characters in this one. Narrated by five women - the mother and four daughter of the Price family - reluctant American missionaries to the Belgian Congo in 1960.
Nathan Price, the misogynistic father, is the worst kind of Slytherin. I would argue his four daughters are also Sly... Read More »

ArapahoeSteffen Jan 09, 2017

This was a really fascinating read for me. Kingsolver's prose was complex and nuanced, thanks to her decision to narrate this book from the POV of four sisters and their mother - reluctant transients to the Belgian Congo in 1960, dragged there by their brutal and pious missionary father/husband. ... Read More »

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jan 16, 2020

A splendid work of artistry about life in Africa through the eyes of the daughters and Mother of their radical 'Bible-thumping' father. He visited a miserable existence upon his family, until finally they were freed of his control. Would recommend this novel to those interested in life n among the Africans.

Jan 06, 2020

I struggled to start this book, only managing one chapter at a time for several weeks. (I think this was more a me thing than the book, though!) But once I was in it, I was in it. The Poisonwood Bible is stunning. The characters were absolutely believable. There were uncountable moments I read and re-read passages that punched me right in the gut. Most of all, this novel skewers colonialism and whiteness perfectly – I'll never stop thinking about this book.

LPL_SarahM Jan 05, 2020

A fascinating story told from the point of view of the women in a family dominated by a male, over-the-top, fire and brimstone preacher who has moved them from the United States to the Congo during a period of great civil unrest and famine. It begins in the late 1950s and spans many decades. Each character has a unique voice as she describes their lives-- each giving a different perspective. This is one I will think about for a while.

May 19, 2019

On second reading, several years later. Read at risk of changing your entire world view and have a good laugh or two and perhaps cry in the process.

May 17, 2019


Mar 08, 2019

I read this book to fulfil the goar read a book told from multiple points of veiw. it is also on the 300 books everyone should read at least once list. i didn't expect to like it. the word bible in it immediately predjudiced me against it, as my bible is super sacred to me, and i do not use it lightly. i immediately identified with the religious upbringing of the characters. while i myself was fortunate to escape a dominering childhood. some of my friends were not. i was spellbound as the characters each made their escape in the only way they knew how. this book made me laugh and cry. i highly recomend it to anyone.

Sep 08, 2018

This is my all time favorite book. When someone asks for a book recommendation I always tell them to read this first. I never recommend any other book before this one. I read it years ago and feel like I should now listen to the audiobook. It's very long but oh so worth the time. I've had other people mention to me that they loved it.

Jul 08, 2018

I've just read this novel for the 4th or 5th time. Most of us have novels that we love and re-read, and this is the one for me. I cannot tell you why it strikes such a chord for me, or how it gives me a different point of view as I age. Suffice it to say that I hope to read it again in a couple of years.

I see it now as a very human retelling of the fight for the Belgian Congo/Zaïre that has been verified by open record about the CIA involvement in forming the region without regard to such democratic ideas as freedom of speech and honoring elections. This all takes place in the background of an entrancing story of how Africa changed five white females.

Kingsolver's narrative is spliced together from the distinctive musings of 4 sisters and their mother. Each style and character remains consistent as time progresses over some 30 years. The changes that occur are logical extensions of their personality. Almost nothing in the novel is filler- each incident or observation lends itself to the plot. It remains for me the best of Kingsolver's work, and she has written several excellent ones.

Jun 20, 2018

I read this for the "a book set in Africa" part of my 2018 reading challenge. Based on the other reviews, I didn't find it as gripping as I had expected, but it was enlightening.

Mar 08, 2018

A great read!

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability
Jun 01, 2015

vv8 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Mee2 Sep 20, 2011

Mee2 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


Add a Quote
Oct 18, 2017

In Congo, it seems the land owns the people. p 283


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at Arapahoe Libraries

To Top