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The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible


The Poisonwood Bible

evaluări:
4.5/5 (445 evaluări)
Lungime:
15 hours
Lansat:
May 16, 2017
ISBN:
9781543613308
Format:
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Descriere

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.

Lansat:
May 16, 2017
ISBN:
9781543613308
Format:
Carte audio

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Despre autor

Barbara Kingsolver is the author of nine bestselling works of fiction, including the novels, Flight Behavior, The Lacuna, The Poisonwood Bible, Animal Dreams, and The Bean Trees, as well as books of poetry, essays, and creative nonfiction. Her work of narrative nonfiction is the enormously influential bestseller Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. Kingsolver’s work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has earned literary awards and a devoted readership at home and abroad. She was awarded the National Humanities Medal, our country’s highest honor for service through the arts, as well as the prestigious Dayton Literary Peace Prize for her body of work. She lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia.

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  • (5/5)
    I love this book. The first time you read it, it's a little bit hard to get used to the style of storytelling, but the second, or dare I say, the third, time through it is a treat, and I get something different from it every time.
  • (5/5)
    The Poisonwood Bible was one of my earliest experiences with what felt like a "generational saga" that followed multiple characters over time. I really loved this one and love Kingsolver's ability to spin a wonderful, rich story and present new perspective to those who are unfamiliar.
  • (4/5)
    I have got to read more books like this set in Africa. It brings back so much of my own experiences to the forefront of my thoughts, which brings it all back to life for me. As for this book, I really enjoyed what it was trying to get at: cultures in Africa are different than american society. It has always been so and and always be so. So much so that it is impossible, and cruel, to expect they to convert to a different way of life. Our societies think differently, and one is not superior to the other. I loved that the book was about how you can never really leave Africa behind once you've lived there and been subject to it's whims. My experiences in Africa hold nothing on these girls, but I still found so much to relate to. If you haven't traveled to Africa, I don't think you'll get as much from this book as if you had, but there is still much about the book that other readers can enjoy. Highly recommended.
  • (5/5)
    I have avoiding reading this book for a number of years now. Why? Well, I don't really know... I just felt as though I had to be in the right frame of mind for what I saw as just another missionary family heading to Africa to spread the Christian word. I have never been a big fan of 'converting' individuals to a different belief system, so I was expecting a bit of heavy handed scripture preaching of the fire and brimstone kind. Well that is in there, in the form of Nathan's bullying personality, I discovered instead a sharp, poignantly written story from the point of view of the Price women... and what a story it is! You know this isn't going to be a typical story when it starts off with the family figuring out how to get all their "essential" belongings (including cake mixes and pinking shears - I had to refresh my memory as to what pinking shears are) to the Congo when each passenger is restricted to forty-four pounds of luggage, "and not one iota more.". Set against a backdrop of dramatic political events - and the hostility of villagers to Nathan's fiery brand of Christianity - this story has it all: sin, redemption, social injustice... pretty much everything but salvation, unless salvation comes in the form of understanding and accepting moral risk, personal responsibility and the ways in which private lives can be shaped and shattered by the events we find ourselves exposed to. There is probably a lot more symbolism to be found in this story, but for me, it is the attention to detail and the wonderful unique voices Kingsolver has given to the five Price women that made this a spellbinding read for me, even if we never get to find out what is going on in Nathan's mind... I guess we are just to assume that Nathan is the person described by the women of his family. A captivating read for anyone interested in Congolese political history or life in an equatorial rain forest, sans luxuries of indoor plumbing, clean drinking water and electricity.
  • (4/5)
    The initial section of this book was really slow going for me. The impact of Africa on an American Baptist preacher's family who go as missionaries? An exploration of American culpability in the instability of African governments? A well written multi-generational tale that I found tragic and enjoyable.
  • (5/5)
    Beautiful sweeping narrative that pulled me in entirely. I didn't love the narrator at first, but she was perfect in the end. I loved every minute of it.
  • (5/5)
    Great book!
  • (5/5)
    My Favorite
  • (5/5)
    A great read
  • (5/5)
    Poignant & potent
  • (5/5)
    I listened to this on Audio after print; the reader brought things to me I had not otherwise noticed. This multi-layered book spoke to my Fundamentalist upbringing in the late 50s into 60s. At times, my empathy with the host of voices was so heavy I needed to remove myself for a few days. Relationships. Love. Family. History of change in the Congo and Africa. There is one thought that brought a late-evening discussion. When a family gives birth to many children--in the hopes that at least one will survive to adulthood--then what happens to the population growth and sustainability opportunities to support that growth--when inoculations and Western medical interventions occur? It is an unexpected thing to carry from this book, but there it is. I work with a variety of environmentally-engaged academicians; perhaps that is why I cannot shake off the thought of the thrust of public-health interventions with the sustainability of Africa's habitats, water supply, etc.I am not certain what I would drink while reading this book; perhaps a chilled glass of Palm Wine. It is an acquired taste.
  • (5/5)
    This story about the struggle for independence in the Belgian Congo and in the lives of 5 women in the Price family was extremely well-written. Kingsolver drew me into the story immediately & I loved the diary-like entries from each of the 5. Rachel's malapropisms frequently drew a chuckle from me even when I was disliking her point of view...
  • (5/5)
    Life changing!
  • (5/5)
    First reading - don't know when; second reading - September 2008; third reading - March 2015. I love this book.
  • (4/5)
    What a sadly depressing, but poignant tale...

    The last half of the book was absolutely unnecessary and could have been condensed into a few chapters. But the first half is eerily poetic in many, many ways...
  • (5/5)
    This is exactly what I want from an award-winning novel! I was hooked immediately by the author's authentic southern voice and the way she expertly molded and shaped the four Price girls and their mother. The Poisonwood Bible was my kind of Southern Gothic fiction, but instead of being set in the American South, it was set in the Belgian Congo. If you decide to take this journey into Africa, expect Southern Baptist evangelism gone wrong, ignorant racism, the devolution of European colonialism, ex-patriot survival to the extreme, and the unmistakable bonds between siblings. Some readers were turned off by the apparently heavy-handed political tone of the book, but I was intrigued by the history of the Congo and the struggles of its people before and after Belgian occupation (and the impact of all on whites living in the country). There are images from this book that I will likely never lose - like a green mamba snake camouflaged in a tree and the distinctive light blue color of the inside of its mouth.
  • (5/5)
    One of my all-time favorite books. The distinct voices of each daughter and of Orleanna's intercalary chapters shape this saga of coming of age amidst culture clash, Congolese independence, and the backdrop of colonization.
  • (5/5)
    One of my Favorite Books! Just when I thought that no other book other then Cutting for Stone could transport me so fully into another culture across miles of water thankfully Barbara Kingsolver wrote this book. An epic tale of a headstrong, unbendable Reverend, his wife and four girls who take a mission assignment to Africa in 1959 when The Congo was ruled by Belgium and at the brink of upheaval. While Nathan Price, the Reverend, assumes he will be the changeable force for Christ in the Congo, it is the Congo that changes the Price Family. This book will transport your heart and mind into the beautiful and deadly Congo where you cannot survive on prayer alone. Each chapter is told by the point of view of one of the four sisters and also by their mother, Orleanna thus giving the women a distinct voice and insight into their struggles.
  • (5/5)
    There is so much to say about this book. It is excellent. I love the way she puts words together. It is so poetic and says so much. I think this is a book that could be read over and over. I enjoyed her characters. I loved the characters of each of the girls, especially Adah but I liked how she presented Rachel even though she is hard to like. Learning about the history of Africa and politics and how it has impacted Africa was very interesting.
  • (5/5)
    What a phenomenal novel. I wanted to read this acclaimed fiction for years, and now that I have, I only wish I had read it sooner. The story of a misguided missionary, and his wife and four daughters that are trapped in his skewed vision, is an engrossing and thrilling read that handles several complicated and controversial topics with great skill.The mother, Orleanna, opens the tale in the prologue. She is clearly recounting events long after they have passed, reminiscing about her time in Africa and evoking nostalgia and loss, without revealing too much of the story. The next chapter backs up in time to the Price family departing for Africa, and is narrated by Leah. The daughters - Rachel, Leah, Ada, and Ruth May - all hold quite different perspectives on their new adventure in life, and the novel cleverly alternates between points of view to tell the story. Orleanna is only the voice at the beginning of each section, and then the daughters take over. Although Nathan Price is the architect of their lives in Africa, the story never belongs to him. Just as his wife and his daughters are the ones who accept Africa (each in distinctly individual ways), they are the ones with voice, and he is an orator whose words are lost in the air.Nathan Price is a horrible man. He is a bully, abusive, and self-righteous. He was always zealous about God, meeting Orleanna as an earnest tent revival pastor, but his war experiences took that excessive faith and twisted it into diabolical applications. Add to that society's view of the inferiority of women and minorities, and you have the makings of a character that is easy to detest. More importantly, Nathan poses a formidable obstacle, a challenge that each of the women must face and try to overcome over the course of the story.He brings his family to Africa because he wants to save the natives, whether they are willing or not. Almost immediately, Nathan and his family realize that their carefully laid plans mean nothing in their new home. Their meeting with the Congolese villagers is wild and frantic, far removed from the holy sermon Nathan had prepared. The seeds that Nathan and Leah bring, hoping to teach the Africans about properly constructed gardens, run riot, proliferating in all the wrong ways, out of control, either not producing fruit or creating gigantic monstrosities of their familiar vegetables. The church remains embarrassingly empty week after week, and no one will allow Pastor Price to baptize their children in the river. As their plans unravel, the girls and their mother begin to adapt to their new home, but their father refuses. Even when he learns that the villagers frown on baptism because a little girl was killed by a crocodile in the river not long ago, he remains unshaken. He will do things his way - which he claims is God's way - only. Whatever loyalty he claimed from his family drops away, piece by piece, until it is clear that the women see him simply as the enemy, just as most of the villagers do. The tension is palpably high as the Price family live almost two years in the small village of Kilanga, with Nathan stubbornly clinging to ideas that clearly won't work, and the women doing their best to scratch out a living without any help from the man. Calamitous events pile more and more pressure. The Belgian government cedes ownership back to the Congolese people, only to work in secret conspiracy with the United States to assassinate Patrice Lumumba, the people's democratically elected leader. These large political take time to trickle down and impact the Prices. More domestic conflicts weigh heavily, though, such as the "election" Chief Ndu holds in church to oust Jesus, or the night when overrun the village, and everyone must flee or die. Bigger and smaller conflicts combine to lead to one devastating tragedy for the family: the death of one of their own.This climactic moment has a huge impact on the family, dispersing them and setting a new course for their futures. The tone of the novel shifts here, as well. The reader moves from a narrative that develops the events over a two year period in great detail, with tension rising to unbearable levels, to a broader outlook, giving us generalized overviews of the women as they spiral further and further away from their childhood in Kilanga, like an extended denouement. The story checks in with the girls who are soon adults, often jumping over many years in between chapters, focusing on a few important scenes and summarizing the rest of the information. I was fully engaged with this story, from the moment I read the prologue until the closing pages. The characters are amazing, and to see an author juggle five different points of view so effectively and authentically is reason enough to pick up this book. Each of the five women in the novel are complicated and fully-fleshed people, and we witness their evolution. Despite being from the same family, and experiencing the same huge transformative experiences, they respond to events in ways unique to their personalities. Also, witnessing what happens in Africa from five different perspectives reinforces a theme from the novel, that our world is full of colliding cultural values, and these intersections can be tragic, especially when one or both sides conduct themselves with ignorance and self-righteousness. Historical events may have a much darker side than we like to believe, and we should look at them from other angles, from how people on the other side may see them. The author weaves in other strong motifs in her writing, such as the multiple meanings of religion and faith, intricately connected with the many meanings and miscommunications in language, our complicity in horrible events because we willfully shut our eyes, the relationships between family and sisters and lovers, and the costs of being a so-called civilized society. This is a complicated (in the best sense of the word) novel.Aside from the wonderful characters, and the thematic depths of the book, the plot is simply compelling. I was tense while I read about the transplanted Price family.
  • (5/5)
    A great story of one American missionary family in the Belgian Congo in the mid-20th century. Told from the perspective of several different (and entertaining) characters, it is a very well done book. It focuses on a familiar Kingsolver theme of Western culture's mistaken belief in its superiority (in this case, Western culture is represented by Christianity of the Baptist variety).
  • (1/5)
    This was a hard book for me. I didn't enjoy reading it for the most part, but some of the stories were good.
  • (5/5)
    I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book or not, but it was fascinating, funny, sad, sarcastic, & touching all at the same time. The Poisonwood Bible follows the Price family, Nathan the preacher, Orleanna, his wife, & their 4 daughters: Rachel, Leah & Adah the twins, & Ruth May, the baby, as they leave America in the late part of 1959-60 to go to Africa on a one year mission. This is a story of their lives, each chapter narrated by a different character in turn, except, strangely for Nathan himself. There they deal with the culture shock that is life in the African jungle of the Congo/Zaire, & butt heads with the natives on matters of the spirit. They all learn certain lessons that will follow them throughout their lives.Eye opening & thought provoking, set in a backdrop of political unrest, hardships & love, it's a book I would recommend to anyone!
  • (5/5)
    Very powerful and overwhelming.
  • (4/5)
    Had been meaning to read this one for a long time but the length put me off. I'm glad I did make the effort due to the memorable story of Leah, Adah, Ruth May and Rachel being taken to the Congo with their missionary parents in the 1960s. One of those stories that will stay with me with memorable scenes and images like the ant invasion and the hunt. It didn't drag but at the same time I was glad to finish. Rachel's stupidity and shallowness grated a little towards the end.
  • (5/5)
    The viewpoint cycles chapter-by-chapter through the sisters, punctuated by reflections from the mother. There are a couple of really interesting characters, especially Adah, the hemiplegic girl and her twin.
    I could pick a few grumbles, but not enough to tip it off five stars - exceptionally readable, probably the best book I've read all year.
  • (5/5)
    "Deep calls out to deep ...", Psalms 42:7. Many passages from the Bible (including the Apocrypha) are quoted in The Poisonwood Bible to give insight into the characters and their thoughts. I don't remember seeing this one, but it is a passage that provides insight into my own thoughts as I read this awesome novel. I enjoy browsing reviews after finishing a book and I was struck by how polarizing this book was. This work of fiction certainly gives much to offend the reader, where few stones (of the human experience) are left unturned. Some negative reviewers reacted to what appears to be an anti-American-Christian-culture message. May I suggest a different understanding? The newly landed, missionary family encounters a tree in the Congo that appears to be useful but the inhabitants warn the family away from the Poisonwood tree because it is poisonous to contact. This is a lesson that the all-knowing, father, with his colonialist mindset, learns slowly. I am left understanding the importance of learning the deeper role that factors play in this world; that accepting the surface message as whole can be dangerous. Good book.
  • (4/5)
    "Nathan was something that happened to us. " Nathan Price and his wife Oleanna are missionaries in the Belgian Congo (later Zaire). Nathan has brought his family from their comfortable Georgia existence despite having been advised by his church not to go. While Nathan, with complete disregard for the interests and customs of the Congolese, attempts to bring the gospel to heathens, his wife and four daughters struggle to cope with the absence of all of the small comforts to which they were accustomed. The daughters ranged in age from 5 to 16 at the start of the mission and the story of their lives is told by them (and occasionally by Oleanna, but never by Nathan) in alternating chapters. The narrator of the audio book did a pretty good job of differentiating the voices, although neither the author nor the narrator was very convincing as five year old Ruth May. There were also the teenagers Rachel and the twins Leah and Adah (who was mute and had been damaged at birth). I was absolutely enthralled by the story of this family in the beginning. The language that the author used and the images she painted were beautiful and perceptive. Nathan was a bully who got worse as he became more and more unhinged. The Congolese were not exactly receptive to his teachings. The strangeness of the environment challenged all of them. They faced tarantulas, snakes, torrential rains, malaria and rivers of ants. The book showed the benevolent arrogance of missionaries who knew nothing about a place yet assumed that they were qualified to tell the people who live there how to live. Their only credentials were their whiteness and their belief in the superiority of their religion. Comparisons were subtly drawn to the treatment of the Congo by Belgium and America.However, the last half of the book sort of fell off the rails for me. As the girls matured, Adah and especially Leah became politicized and all subtlety was lost as the book became overtly pedantic about the history of the Congo. The only character I cared to read about in the last half of the book was Rachel, who reminded me of one of the vain, oblivious survivors in an Edith Wharton novel. I found her entertaining but I wouldn't want to spend any time with either Adah or Leah.Overall, I liked this book a lot, and if the second half had been as good as the first, I would have loved it.
  • (4/5)
    After enjoying Flight Behavior so much, I went back to Barbara Kingsolver's earlier and probably most popular work, about the experiences of a missionary family in the Congo on the eve of its independce from Belgium. The family patriarch, Nathan, is an embodiment of the worst side of colonialism: smug, strident, entirely blind to the real needs of the people he is supposedly serving. His wife and four daughters carry the narrative, and the reader sees Africa through these very distinct lenses and is able to perceive - hopefully - a little truth.This book is much darker than Flight Behavior; at turns sad, frightening and infuriating. Despite that darkness, the language is lush and beautiful, and the characterization is spot on. As always, Kingsolver is adept at weaving the political realities into her story. I learned a lot about the tragedy of colonialism and of U.S. intervention in Africa.
  • (4/5)
    Basic Summary: The book is awesome, go read it.

    What I love about Kingsolver's writing is that you cannot hear her voice in it. She puts life into the characters so much so that you wouldn't be surprised if someone told you it was not fiction, but an autobiography. Realistic, powerful fiction is definitely her forte.

    Keeping with her style, each chapter is written from the point of view of one of the 5 Price women. This has been my favorite representation of this POV, so far. It was done so flawlessly.

    I have read a few other reviews that say the author has "an agenda" that she "doesn't mind slapping in our faces". To that, I say: pish, posh. Untwist your panties and relax a little. They were all American reviewers flitting on about how she was attacking America and bending the truths quite absurdly. Apparently, they forgot to read the parts were Belgium, France, Portugal (especially Portugal), etc were also called out for their parts. Oh yea..and the part about how this is a work of fiction. (I attribute the misunderstanding to Kingsolver's incredible ability to build real worlds out her text). The novel takes place largely in Africa, through the eyes of girls who were practically raised there - through the words of villagers who live there, etc. So, I don't find the Big Bad First World Country portions to be out-of-place in the slightest. If it were written in any other way, it would seem trivial.

    Another praise for the author would be that she does not over-write her characters or their intelligence. She does not ever say, "this character is not smart, unlearned, naive" she shows it to you via the character's narratives and if you weren't paying attention, you'd miss the genius in it all together.

    For example, the eldest Price daughter [Rachel] is not so great with words [much unlike her middle sisters] and frequently uses the wrong words during her POV chapters. 'Anomalous' for 'Anonymous', 'philanderist' for 'philanthropist', 'monotony' for 'monogamy', etc.
    The youngest daughter, Ruth May [5 at the time the story begins] goes on about over-hearing talk about girls needing to have "circus missions" and how she wanted one. When in reality, it was forced circumcision.

    Adah, another daughter [deformed twin] speaks largely in palindromes. Which gets really tiresome after awhile. Her character was the only one I thought was constantly changing in a not-great way.

    All in all, I loved this book. I really loved how it ended. Not abruptly, but gradually. Covering 40 years in its path.

    I had a few favorite quotes to add to this, but the review got so long I decided against it.