#277 ~ The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Published by: HarperCollins

Published on: July 2005 (reprint)

Page Count: 576

Genre: Literature

My Reading Format: audiobook purchased through Audible.com

Narrator: Dean Robertson

Available Formats: Hardcover, paperback, eBook, audiobook

tlc-logo-resizedToday it is my great pleasure to be Barbara Kingsolver’s host on her TLC Book Tour.  This tour is to celebrate The Lancuna.  TLC Book Tours has also included hosts reading from her backlisted.  Today I’ll be reviewing The Poisonwood Bible.

I have a lot of fun working as a tour host for TLC Book Tours.  They always have great books and authors on tour.  Check out their website for more information on this tour and the others that they are hosting.

Synopsis from the Publisher

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.

My Review

I cannot tell you how much I loved this novel. Having each of the women in the Price family narrate this novel was fantastic because each woman had their own views about what was going on.   This was due to their  age, their relationship to Nathan Price, and their world view when they arrived at the Congo.  What made this even more amazing was that I could have told you within just a few sentences who was narrating without being told otherwise because each of the five women had such a distinctive voice. The narrator was also incredible, bringing each of these characters alive as individuals.  I especially loved the way Dean Robertson, who sounded like a woman to me the entire time,  took Rachel’s common phrases and made them just so perfect.

Of all the characters, Adah Price, the twin sister with hemiplegia was my favorite.  She lived so internally because of her condition and she used her brain to play with language.  That use of language wasn’t just for her own amusement.  It added a dimension to their lives and to the Congo that brought me there so easily.

I hated Nathan Price.  I feel somewhat judgmental saying that as he had no voice in the novel.  Still, what he did – or more often didn’t do – to and for his family while they were in the Congo so that he could answer to his calling was appalling.  He may have bullied his family, but he was a weak man who hid behind the Bible.

The only issue I had with The Poisonwood Bible was that it got somewhat preachy about Africa and the Western world.  Although I believe those were the thoughts and feelings of the narrators, the actual story and their lives said that much more loudly than the narrator’s opinions.

I cannot recommend this novel more highly.  If you haven’t read it yet, you really should.  Not only is the story rich, but the writing is excellent.  You will not be disappointed.


  • At 2010.09.07 08:15, rhapsodyinbooks said:

    I have only read one Kingsolver and I’m not sure why only one because I really liked it! Your review makes this one sound very intriguing. I love that you could identify each narrator without being told!

    Read more from rhapsodyinbooks

    Review of “Symphony for the City of the Dead” by M. T. Anderson

    To say that a soundtrack would be useful or, indeed, desirable, while reading this history is an understatement, because of the centrality of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony to the story. And[…]

    • At 2010.09.07 08:27, Coffee and a Book Chick said:

      I’m still kicking myself for not having read this yet — thanks for reminding me to get off my butt and pick this one up!

      • At 2010.09.07 08:33, Meghan said:

        I adored The Poisonwood Bible. I don’t even remember the preachiness, only the good bits! I don’t know why I haven’t read more by her yet, just remembering how much I sincerely enjoyed this book back when I read it.

        Read more from Meghan

        Reading Thoughts: February 2017

        Let’s try this writing about the books I’ve read thing again, shall we?
        A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan – One of those books I like more in memory than I did while I was […]

        • At 2010.09.07 08:40, Stephanie said:

          I admit, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this book. I read it about three years ago and it just didn’t live up to my expectations. However, it is one of the few books that I think I would actually really enjoy if I reread it. Maybe it was just the wrong time for me to read it.

          Read more from Stephanie

          Book Review: The Trespasser

          The Trespasser Tana French Viking 449 pages Synopsis: Antoinette Conway is fed up with being the low man on the totem pole of the Dublin Murder Squad. Treated by shit for being a woman on the squad co[…]

          • At 2010.09.07 09:49, Fyrefly said:

            I love this book, not only because it’s great in and of itself, but because it introduced me to Kingsolver’s work in general, and she quickly became one of my favorite authors.

            I never thought about it before, but I wonder how it would work for me in audio – particularly Adah’s chapters (she’s my favorite character too), since I spent a lot of time in the text version going back and forth with her palindromes and her wordplay.

            Read more from Fyrefly

            December 2017 Wrap-Up: Books and Reviews

            Ye Grande Olde TBR(e) Challenge Update I started December with 210 unread books sitting around my house. And I ended with … *drumroll* …209! The holidays are always hectic but I managed to[…]

            • At 2010.09.07 10:19, Nely said:

              I absolutely loved this book too. Great review!

              • At 2010.09.07 10:22, Melissa said:

                Adah was my favorite character as well. I’d never read anyone quite like her.

                • At 2010.09.07 11:03, Teacher/Learner said:

                  Thanks for the great review! I have a copy on my nightstand but haven’t touched it yet, somewhat due to the mixed reception, but more likely because I have so much to read :oD Your opinion is valued in the book blogging community, so I’ll dive into it as soon as I can! Welcome back, by the way, and please accept my belated sympathies for your loss.

                  • At 2010.09.07 11:31, Kate said:

                    I loved this book also! I read it nearly 5 years ago, and I think it might be time for a re-read. I would be interested to hear what you have to say about any of Kingsolver’s other books, as this is the only one I’ve read so far.

                    • At 2010.09.07 11:47, Sandy said:

                      I listened to this on audio, and I was blown away. The prose, the intrigue, the drama! I know some people hated it, but I for one didn’t want it to end.

                      • At 2010.09.07 12:46, Shelley said:

                        The setting of this book couldn’t be further from mine in Texas, but I was happy to see the information about the “reprint,” since with the upheaval in the publishing industry, that is becoming more rare. Even excellent books are struggling to stay in print.

                        • At 2010.09.07 13:27, Crissy said:

                          One of my favorite books, ever. It’s on my list to re-read at some point in the near future.

                          • At 2010.09.07 14:29, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

                            I’m a huge Barbara Kingsolver fan and this is one of her finest works in my opinion. I’m glad to see you loved it.

                            Read more from bermudaonion (Kathy)

                            The Week in Review: 01.19.2018

                            Between the Covers Finished last week: I decided to give TELL ME MORE by Kelly Corrigan a try after seeing how much Sarah loved it and I’m sure glad I did.  I’ve read Corrigan’s oth[…]

                            • At 2010.09.07 15:59, Lisa (Book Blab) said:

                              I read this years ago and I agree with Bermudaonion that this is definately one of her greatest. I also LOVED The Bean Trees. A GREAT read as well.

                              Great post!

                              Read more from Lisa (Book Blab)

                              WHAT I’M READING! “Think Like Freak” by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen Dubner

                              Awhile back I was asked to read and review Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner.  This is another addition to the very popular franchise of books in the Freakanomics ser[…]

                              • At 2010.09.07 20:12, Gwen said:

                                I have picked up this books so many times and was never able to get into it. For you, I will try again soon:)

                                Read more from Gwen

                                The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian

                                Years ago, I read Chris Bohjalian for the first time and while I remember little of the actual plot, what sticks with me is the extremely powerful punch of an ending. (I’d link to the review […]

                                • At 2010.09.08 06:09, Beth Nolan Conners said:

                                  I’ve read all of Kingsolver’s books – am a huge fan – but this one was my favorite!! Glad you liked it, too, as some of my friends didn’t. -Beth 🙂

                                  Read more from Beth Nolan Conners

                                  DEAD MAN’S CHEST by Kerry Greenwood

                                  I love watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on PBS. Phryne is definitely in a class by herself. And the costumes are to die for — very Downton! I was thrilled to find a Miss Fisher myst[…]

                                  • At 2010.09.08 21:34, Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said:

                                    This is one of my all time favorite books, the one I recommend that all my friends read. I’m so happy to see that you really enjoyed it. Adah is fascinating, isn’t she?! I loved how Kingsolver was able to create such clear voices for each of the characters.

                                    Thanks for being a part of this tour – I’m so enjoying seeing reviews of this book!

                                    Read more from Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours

                                    Kris Rafferty, author of CAUGHT BY YOU, on tour March 12th – 18th

                                    Join us for an Instagram tour for
                                    Caught by You!
                                    About Caught by You: Secret Agents #1
                                    Print Length: 210 pages
                                    Publisher: Lyrical Liaison (March 13, 2018)
                                    It takes a specialized task force to bring […]

                                    • At 2010.09.09 03:33, Marg said:

                                      I was so surprised when I enjoyed this as much as I did when I read it a while ago. It’s a good book club read too – lots to talk about!

                                      Hasn’t given me any incentive to read any more Kingsolver though!

                                      • At 2010.09.11 11:38, Colleen (Books in the City) said:

                                        One of my all-time favorite books! I may listen to it instead of a re-read – thanks for the inspiration!

                                        • At 2010.09.12 15:03, Emily said:

                                          When I went to Ecuador five years ago, I packed two books: Maria Tatar’s Classic Fairy Tales and this. It’s one of my favorite books ever. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

                                          • At 2010.09.13 15:11, Anna said:

                                            Glad you enjoyed it. It’s one of my all-time faves.

                                            Read more from Anna

                                            Richard & Amália in the Drawing Room: A Vignette ~ These Dreams by Nicole Clarkston (with Giveaway)

                                            My dear readers, I am so excited to have Nicole Clarkston as my guest again today. She has written a new scene tied to her Pride and Prejudice variation These Dreams, which made my Best of 2017 list[…]

                                            • At 2010.09.24 22:13, Lisa said:

                                              I loved this one, too. I completely agree with the skill Kingsolver showed using the multiple narrators and that the book got too preachy. If the second half of the book had read like the first half, the book would have been perfect.

                                              • […] Literate Housewife (The Poisonwood Bible) […]

                                                • At 2010.09.30 19:22, Laurel Corona said:

                                                  I think The Poisonwood Bible is one of the finest novels ever written. Not finest recently, finest by a woman, finest American, or any qualifier. Finest, period.

                                                  • […] #277 ~ The Poisonwood Bible (literatehousewife.com) […]

                                                    • At 2015.07.14 16:28, Haley Stubbs said:

                                                      I also loved the book!
                                                      FYI Dean Robertson (narrator) is not to be confused with Robertson Dean who is also a narrator and a man. Dean Robertson is a woman.

                                                      (Required, will not be published)

                                                      %d bloggers like this: