Summary

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 all 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. This tale of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction, over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa, is set against history's most dramatic political parables.
The Poisonwood Bible dances between the darkly comic human failings and inspiring poetic justices of our times. In a compelling exploration of religion, conscience, imperialist arrogance, and the many paths to redemption, Barbara Kingsolver has brought forth her most ambitious work ever.
©2004 Barbara Kingsolver (P)2004 Brilliance Audio
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Critic reviews

"Haunting..A novel of character, a narrative shaped by keen-eyed women." ( New York Times Book Review)
"The book's sheer enjoyability is given depth by Kingsolver's insight and compassion for Congo, including its people, and their language and sayings." ( Boston Globe)
"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." ( People)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Kirstine on 06-11-10

A good story over-burdened with detail

The author has created a wealth of strong characters: the awful, overbearing, self-righteous Baptist missionary Nathan Price; his long-suffering wife and four very different daughters that he drags to the Congo in the late 1950s to satisfy his desire to bring Jesus to the natives. The Congolese he encounters are resourceful and pragmatic and he greatly under-estimates them. It's an epic story of battling against the odds set against the tragic political upheavals caused by US meddling that ruined the country. There is much of interest in the book, but I felt there was too much descriptive detail and attempts to draw moral parallels that slowed down the narrative. The author knows a lot about the Congo having lived there and has obviously done much research, but a good story has become over-burdened with her desire to include too much of this information. There are many characters with unfamiliar-sounding names that made it difficult to keep track of who was whom: a difficulty increased by the colourless and sometimes overly hurried narration in a monotonous voice with no attempt to differentiate among the characters. The book is structured such that we get the story told from the perspective of the mother and four daughters in turn but I kept losing track of who was 'speaking' as the narrator sounded the same all the time. A pity as some audio books are brought to life by a skilled narrator who can change voice as each character speaks.

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16 of 16 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By metalwork on 22-09-10

excellent read

This is an excellent book in many ways and I would recommend it to anyone not just for its story but for the relevance of its politics.It is humane, insightful and finely written, and therefore deserves to be much better narrated. It is read too fast, with little expression and with no attempt to vocally differentiate between the characters, in particular the mother and her 4 daughters, the main characters, all sound like the same person. Sadly, many of the subtleties of the writing, especially in the more moving parts, are spoiled and occasionally lost altogether in the narrator's disregard for punctuation and apparent hurry to get it all over and done with! Good audio book narrators don't just read aloud, they act as well. This narrator just reads it aloud.

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16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Joe on 28-06-09

Very Engrossing

I very much enjoyed this audio book. The first three quarters are phenomenal. It begins to feel slightly tedious and repetitive for the last quarter, but that may have had more to do with the fact that I was listening to it for long stretches, and may have felt some fatigue as a result.

I thought the narration was fantastic, and I thought the narrator captured the different characters' personalities in a very skilled and subtle way. I especially enjoyed her versions of Adah and Rachel.

There are things about this book that might work better in print, such as Adah's palindromes and other word play. But I so enjoyed this audio version that I didn't regret for a moment that I wasn't actually reading it.

Highly recommended.

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48 of 48 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Sharon Nemeth Murch on 10-06-11

I'd give it ten stars if I could

First, everybody is right about the narrator. I actually think she is okay for the voice of the mom, but the book is presented by chapters in the separate voices of the mom and four daughters, and she has a husky, gravelly voice that is just horrible for teen girls and children. And she didn't even attempt to vary the voices. It was impossible sometimes to tell who was speaking unless you caught the chapter intro. I really believe that books that are written from several points of view should have separate narrators for each, and why this was not done here I can't imagine. Was it budget? Did they think because it was an older book they should cut corners?

But I have to tell you that by the middle of the book, I didn't care a whit about the narrator. The story, and the writing, were so absolutely beautiful and amazing that I was captivated. There were several times I actually had to pull over and write down something that I'd heard, and I am now hunting for the print book which I've had for a long time and never found the time to read.

I particularly love the voice of Orleana Price, the mom. I started out thinking she probably wasn't much, a submissive wife of an overbearing Baptist missionary, but she is such a rich, full character, and yet expressed with such undertones of subtlety.

I cannot say enough good about this book. Don't let the narrator put you off. If you don't want to listen to her voice, read the book. If you don't have the time to read it, listen to it and you will NOT be sorry.

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37 of 37 people found this review helpful

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