The Poisonwood Bible

A preacher and his family (wife and four daughters) travel from Georgia to the Congo. The preacher is intent on teaching the “natives” about the Bible and God. The wife and daughters have to adjust to the drastic change in the lifestyle in Africa. The Poisonwood Bible (TPB) by Barbara Kingsolver is told through the point of view of the four daughters and the mother, predominantly through the daughters’ experiences.

Here’s an excerpt:

We came from Bethlehem, Georgia bearing Betty Crocker cake mixes into the jungle. My sisters and I were all counting on having one birthday apiece during our twelve-month mission. “And heaven knows,” our mother predicted, “they won’t have Betty Crocker in the Congo.”

In addition to the cake mixes she piled up a dozen cans of Underwood deviled ham; Rachel’s ivory plastic hand mirror with powdered-wig ladies on the back; a stainless steel thimble; a good pair of scissors; a dozen Number 2 pencils; a world of Band-Aids, Anacin, Absorbine Jr.; and a fever thermometer.

Set against the political turmoil of the Congo and the angst in the family’s lives, TPB is a breathtaking book about family and about change. Kingsolver writes with the right amount of detail and keeps you involved in the lives of the characters. She manages to keep the narrative thread going even as she moves between characters to tell the story.

I rarely like literary fiction but I could not keep this book down as the storyline and the characters were captivating. Great book and worth a read.


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