The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

About the book

Barbara Kingsolver’s acclaimed international bestseller tells the story of an American missionary family in the Congo during a poignant chapter in African history. It spins the tale of the fierce evangelical Baptist, Nathan Price, who takes his wife and four daughters on a missionary journey into the heart of darkness of the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them to Africa all they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it – from garden seeds to the King James Bible – is calamitously transformed on African soil. Told from the perspective of the five women, this is a compelling exploration of African history, religion, family, and the many paths to redemption.

Reviewed by Queen Mary’s College Library Reading Group

Most of the group thought this was a wonderful novel, one of the most powerful and thought-provoking we’d read in ages. It was hard to get into, but soon you were swept along by the rhythm of the narrative recounted by the women of an American family caught up in the post-colonial world of the former Belgian Congo. Highly recommended.
Star rating ****

11 thoughts on “The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver”

  1. Reviewed by Andover U3A Reading Group
    This novel tells of the life of the family of a missionary in a village in the Congo in the early sixties, where they arrived totally unprepared, and of the events following independence. Narrated by the mother and four daughters, each character comes alive. Barbara Kingsolver can conjure up pictures with a few words and it is a book you can’t put down. We thought it was brilliant.
    Star rating ****

  2. Reviewed by Goodworth Clatford W I
    Highly readable. Excellent characterisation. Good vision of that part of Africa – historical, anthropological, etc. Need to persevere at the beginning.
    Star rating ****

  3. Reviewed by Boater’s Book Club
    All the characterisations were excellent and the way it was written, each chapter by a different personality with its personal voice assisted this. Also of interest was the history of this missionary plus the Congolese current and past way of life. Very topical just now.
    Star rating ****

  4. Reviewed by Shipton Bellinger WIBeautifully written, full of wonderful characters, some likeable some definitely not. You can almost smell the jungle. Set against the events of Congo Independence the Price family, ignorant and naive set out as missionaries. A tale of mans inhumanity to man made readable by flashes of humour and the sheer determination of some of the characters. A must read.
    Star rating ***

  5. Reviewed by Hawkley Book Group
    Some found it hard to get into. Many found it longer than necessary, but overall it was well liked, and gave us a lot to talk about.
    Star rating ***

  6. Reviewed by Southampton U3A
    We found this book absorbing as it painted a vivid picture of the Congo at the time when it gained its independence (1960). We found the character Nathan Price still lives today – and exists in all religions where fundamentalists abound. A most interesting story.
    Star rating ***

  7. Reviewed by The Accidental Reading Group
    Some of us found the book a challenging read. The writers skill in blending the different female voices was admired. The juxtaposition of historical facts and fiction was thought provoking and illuminating.
    Star rating ***

  8. Review
    Raised may issues about missionary work and the arrogance of Western culture. I liked the different voices and responses to life in the Congo in the 60’s, but felt towards the end the novel could have been edited as it started to drag. Africa has been cruelly abused, very thought provoking.
    Star rating ***

  9. Reviewed by Bookworms
    Unanimously thought to be the most thought provoking book we have read. Enjoyed by all both by content and the way it was written.
    Star rating ****

  10. Reviewed by Booklovers
    Aroused a great deal of discussion about missionaries, western culture, language and misogyny. Excellent read.
    Star rating ***

  11. Reviewed by Jane and Nick’s
    An epic and impressive novel; narrated by the wife and four daughters of missionary, Nathan Price; who takes them on his mission to the Congo. Interesting, educational, very moving. Great characters.
    Star rating ****

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