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List price: £7.99|
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Average customer rating:
4.54 out of 5
ISBN/ASIN : 057120175X
Manufacturer : Faber and Faber|
Release data : January, 2000
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Absorbing, beautifully written and truly superb.
Until I read this book, I had thought I would never find a book I loved as much as Memoirs of a Geisha. I was wrong.
I finished The Poisonwood Bible about two weeks ago and am still having what can only be described as withdrawal symptoms now. I wanted to re-read this book the moment I finished it. Throughout the book, as the remaining pages dwindled, I began to dread the end, and made a conscious effort to slow down and savour the words on every page. It was a truly absorbing and beautiful journey through an incredibly well written and researched book - a completely plausible story of a family's experiences in the Belgian Congo in a highly political era.
The wife and 4 daughters of a devout evangelist follow Nathan Price in his mission to the Congo to educate the 'Tribes of Ham' in the teachings of Jesus, unaware of what they are to learn from a starkly different way of life than that lived in Georgia, USA. Wholly unprepared for the consequences of a white family's presence in a country which is being politically abused by the American Government, they all have lessons to learn quickly. Add this to the unrelenting and almost inhospitable environment of the country itself and the reader senses from early on that there is a recipe for disaster brewing. Indeed, the reader pre-empts and fears that moment's ultimate arrival, having developed an extraordinary empathy for the characters along the way.
The author writes beautifully, holding the reader's interest by providing a rich tapestry of historical and political education and an examination of family life in difficult times. The book combines humour and sadness with diplomacy and skill leaving nothing to dislike or criticise. The author herself states that she waited forty years for the knowledge and wisdom to write the book. Trust me, it was worth the wait. Read this and weep.
The Poisonwood Bible is a beautiful, engrossing and heartbreaking tale told by the wife and four daughters of an evangelical Baptist priest who takes his family on a religious mission to the Congo. Each chapter belongs to a different daughter or the wife. Its characters are beautifully developed (especially memorable is Adah, the crippled twin of Leah, who likes to rhyme everything and read backwards). The character of her sister Rachel was particularly horrid and irritating I often felt like throwing the book against the wall in anger! But I see this as good work on Kingsolver's part, to make me believe so much in a fictional character.
Kingsolver's descriptions of their new home are so wonderful and poetic I felt I could taste African life. It makes me, as a fortunate Westerner, feel humble and fortunate to have the life I do.
It would have been interesting to hear Father Price's side of the story but, ultimately, this is not his story. It belongs to his wife and daughters, and it certainly is a tragic tale. Beautifully written, this book is ambitious but not pretentious. Highly recommended.
A tremendously moving book - flawed but still wonderful
Well, I thought this book was wonderful - I cried at the end which is highly unusual for me.
The first half of the book is a real page turner and has magical descriptions about the Congo - as well as a vivid portayal of the Americans' total misunderstanding of the Congolese people. They regard the villagers as utterly primative, but gradually come to realise that it is they, themselves, who have the most to learn.
I agree with other readers who say that the second half of the book doesn't sit easily with the first. However, it does manage to provide some kind of balance to the first in that it shows the total folly of they way in which West African countries have been managed since independence - whilst not exonerating the American money which created so much of the corruption and violence.
Overall this manages to combine being a great read with really telling us something - it didn't leave me with a great hope for the future of West Africa, but I really enjoyed it.