The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible

A Novel

Book - 1998
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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


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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

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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!

Oct 18, 2017

Kingsolver describes clothing and hobbies, embroidery, hope chests, etc. for the time period spot on.
A sad and so often true depiction of how missionaries try to impose their own culture on the people they profess to want to help. On a personal note, I observed an uncle doing this in Fiji and Palau. In the 1950s, he was a missionary in Hawaii and a cousin of mine died there. So, this book really resonates with me.

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.
Here are some details that struck me.
Plain green bushes bursting into riotous bloom and revealing themselves to be Poinsettias.
The sky blue mouth of the Green Mamba.
Congolese children with big bellies appeared that way because of malnutrition, their abdominal walls were undeveloped so their internal organs spilled into their bellies.
Ruthless violence and politics in the pursuit of diamonds.
Orleanna Price walking barefoot on the Georgia coast, gazing across the Atlantic, glaring at and longing for Africa both.

Jul 12, 2016

I always recommend this book to others. One of my favorites.

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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


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Oct 18, 2017

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


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