Before I Blogged I Read: The Poisonwood Bible By Barbara Kingsolver

There’s a lot of books I read before I started this blog in June of 2010 and I figured it might be fun to spotlight those! They won’t be an actual review because OMG YOU GUYS THAT WAS SO LONG AGO but I’ll just note a few things about it, if I enjoyed it and what my Goodreads rating was. So thus “Before I Blogged I Read…” was born. Because you know…I’m so original with my names for things. Check out PAST “Before I Blogged I Read” posts.

 

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The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

(Amazon | Goodreads )
Rating: I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads
Date I Read it: July 2009

1. The Poisonwood Bible is told from multiple POVs  from the daughters and the wife of a Baptist preacher who has moved them from the US to the Congo to be missionaries in the late 50’s. I loved the multiple POVs in this instance because it really showed such a complete look at the situation and everyone felt differently about the things that were going down — from the physical and emotional response to moving, to the terrible things that happened as a result of this move, the political situation in the Congo and life in the village. I could appreciate the perspective from the daughters who LOVED their new home and were fascinated by it but I could also feel the one daughter’s HATRED, as a teenager, for a land so different and far away from what she knows. I could feel how hard it would be to adjust.

2. The setting obviously was a lot different from most of the books I had read and I was definitely interested in African culture and how these white missionaries would immerse themselves in it and adjust. Right away things go wrong with them not packing some of the right things and not quite being prepared for life in the Congo. It was interesting to see it from the viewpoints of the different girls because of their different feelings about even BEING there. I loved the observations about the culture and the landscape from the daughters that really appreciated the Congo and learning about the political situation. I also felt Kingsolver did a good job presenting the beauty of the Congo with the things that make life really hard for the villagers and the Prices– food shortages, dangerous snakes and insects, illnesses, political strife, etc.

3. I remember having such strong (hate) feelings toward Mr. Price. He is one of those Baptist preachers who is definitely all fire and brimstone and he really is that way in his approach with the villagers. He puts his family in so much danger in different ways and is just so stubborn and it infuriated me especially because his family was just falling apart and he just didn’t care it felt like. There is a lot of butting heads between Nathan and the villagers in terms of religion, culture and just the way things are done. He just came into it with so little regard for their culture and he was just altogether one of those characters I just hated because he didn’t even TRY to understand these people or their culture in his approach. Didn’t understand their needs or meet them where they were at. I don’t know if he meant to be such a douchenugget but he was.

4. I read this at an interesting time for myself — I had just graduated from a Christian college where I came out more confused about where I stood than before and it was mostly because of the people. I saw so much in this novel that is what bothered me about parts of Christianity — all embodied in Nathan Price. His approach is what rubs me the wrong way and so it was interesting to read this story with all my own questions swirling around my head. There is a missionary who comes into the novel that was in this village prior to the Prices and his approach definitely contrasts all that Nathan was and showed a lot more compassion, love and understanding towards these people that motivated his work there and gained the respect of the villagers. It definitely was a thought provoking read for me.

Favorite Quotes:

“Don’t try to make life a mathematics problem with yourself in the center and everything coming out equal. When you’re good, bad things can still happen. And if you’re bad, you can still be lucky.” 

“Listen. To live is to be marked. To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals really know. In perfect stillness, frankly, I’ve only found sorrow.” 

 

 

Have any of you read this one? Did you like it/not like it? Tell me what you thought! Have you read any other Kingsolver novels? I read The Bean Trees back in high school and remember liking it.

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 28 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating gelato, listening to music with oversized headphones and teaching her niece how to be as awesome as she is.

Comments

  1. I read this my senior year of high school and to this day it is one of my favorite novels. I think I read it at the right time that like you, it stuck with me. Part of me is dying for a re-read (she says as she ignores her TBR list)

  2. First of all, I have to mention how much I adore the idea of this feature, Jamie! There are so many novels I read before the launch of Pop! Goes The Reader that I would love to talk about but never seem to have the opportunity to, and I think this is such a smart way of doing that. I would also imagine it’s a great feature to work on when you’re experiencing a particularly discouraging reading slump (Sort of like the one I’m experiencing right now *Sigh*)

    In terms of the specific book in question, while The Poisonwood Bible isn’t necessarily the sort of novel I would normally gravitate toward, I can appreciate how much of a chance of pace it would be from my normal reading material. I ordinarily love novels that are told from a multiple point-of-view narrative style, and I also like the fact that the setting is so drastically different from anything I would normally read about. I think I’ll keep my eye out for this one the next time I’m at the library as sometimes you need a book that will force you outside of your comfort zone and challenge you to experience something entirely different :)

  3. I love this book so much–all these years after it came out, it’s still one I recommend to people often. I’ve read all if Barbara Kingsolver’s novels except the newest one, and The Bean Trees is probably my favorite. Her writing just works for me.

  4. OMG, this is one of my FAVOURITE BOOKS OF ALL TIME. I first read it in Grade 11 and totally identified with Rachel (hey, I was 17 and probably would have felt the same way had I been uprooted and dropped in the Congo!) Then, I re-read it (twice!) in university for two different courses (one English and one Women’s Studies) and fell in love with the book all over again, and in a whole different way. I love Leah and Adah so, so, SO much … maybe Adah just a little bit more because of her palindromes.

    My second favourite Kingsolver novel is Prodigal Summer. It’s one of those great novels where you read so many different viewpoints, but they all wrap up into one fantastic and wonderful story. I have a feeling you’d like it =)

  5. I absolutely LOVE The Poisonwood Bible. It is hands down one of my favourite books of all time. I find the characters and the setting so captivating and I love the different ways that all the characters deal with the situation, and that you get to find out what happens to them later on. Thanks for reminding me to read it again!

  6. this was the first book by Kingsolver I read, and I was so impressed I ended up reading all her other books since.

  7. I just skimmed this post because I didn’t know if it included any spoilers, but I’m so glad to see you gave it four stars. I tried reading The Poisonwood Bible last holiday season and abandoned it at the end of part one. I’m determined to pick it up again this fall and finish it, though! I’ve heard great things. Does it start out slow and get better?

  8. I remember disliking Rev. Price too, but what really stuck with me about him was his trauma during WWII and the fact that he most likely has PTSD. From the descriptions of what he was like before the war, it is pretty clear he came back damaged. That said, he is a really frustrating and sometimes enraging character.

  9. I’ve always wanted to read this one, but I’ve never actually picked it up. I’m sure you’ve talked about it before, but I didn’t know you went to a Christian college! I actually dropped out of a Christian college because it was the opposite of what I expected (plus I was having family issues and a whole bunch of other issues), and it really affected how I viewed Christianity, too. I like books that push at my views of religion and my beliefs in general. I definitely like books that make me think and examine things, so I need to get to this one!

  10. Hmm, I’ve had this one on my shelf for SO LONG but I’ve never picked it up!! I wonder if you think I’d like it? I love books that have religion in them – whether it is Christianity or other religions (I’m firm in my faith, so these others do not bother/sway me).

    If you liked this one, you might like VAIN by Fisher Amelie – it’s a New Adult that is swoony but NOT at all steamy but also has social issues, takes place in Uganda, and is EXCELLENT. Also have you read Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller? It’s an absolute favorite favorite favorite of mine forever and always. I just finished re-reading it for, I think, the seventh time the other day. So discussable, it’s ridiculous. Not sure why I felt like unsolicited recommendations here, but there they are anyway. I’m curious about this book you have here, though. Hmm. Also I love this feature.

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