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Thursday, October 24, 2013

the poison wood bible

There's a strange moment in time, after something horrible happens, when you know it's true but you haven't told anyone yet.  Of all things, that is what I remember most.  It was so quiet.
...I think we all had the same strange idea that if we stood there without moving forever and ever, we could keep our family the way it was.  We would not wake up from this nightmare to find out it was someone's real life, and for once that someone wasn't just a poor unlucky nobody in a shack you could forget about.  It was our life, the only one we were going to have.
This is one of the only books I've ever read that I could describe as beautiful and haunting.  Barbara Kingsolver's writing is breathtaking, and I stopped many times while reading The Poisonwood Bible to stop and sit with whatever sentence she had just crafted.  Like the passage above, she hits emotions right on the head - she gets to the emotional heart of whatever she's saying so well.  It made a heartbreaking story very enjoyable to read.  

The Poisonwood Bible is a story about a missionary family who travels to the Belgian Congo in 1959, led by the family's ferociously Evangelical father Nathan Price.  We hear the story told by Nathan's wife (Orleanna) and four daughters (Rachel, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May), who are each transformed by the Congo forever - but in very different ways.  While Nathan stops at nothing to convert a Congolese village to his version of Christianity, the women in his family struggle to survive and make a life as political turmoil erupts around them.  The novel follows the family over three decades, so you understand as a reader just how transformational the Congo was to the Prices. 

The Poisonwood Bible has made its way to the elite ranks of my 5 star rated books.  It includes three of my favorite historical fiction elements - excellent writing, female narrators, and a long timeline of events.  It doesn't get much better than this! 

Have you read The Poisonwood Bible?  What did you think of it?

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