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In fact they can and they do. The first part of The Poisonwood Bible revolves around Nathan's intransigent, bullying personality and his effect on both his family and the village they have come to. As political instability grows in the Congo, so does the local witch doctor's animus toward the Prices, and both seem to converge with tragic consequences about halfway through the novel. From that point on, the family is dispersed and the novel follows each member's fortune across a span of more than 30 years.
The Poisonwood Bible is arguably Barbara Kingsolver's most ambitious work, and it reveals both her great strengths and her weaknesses. As Nathan Price's wife and daughters tell their stories in alternating chapters, Kingsolver does a good job of differentiating the voices. But at times they can grate--teenage Rachel's tendency towards precious malapropisms is particularly annoying (students practice their "French congregations"; Nathan's refusal to take his family home is a "tapestry of justice"). More problematic is Kingsolver's tendency to wear her politics on her sleeve; this is particularly evident in the second half of the novel, in which she uses her characters as mouthpieces to explicate the complicated and tragic history of the Belgian Congo.
Despite these weaknesses, Kingsolver's fully realized, three-dimensional characters make The Poisonwood Bible compelling, especially in the first half, when Nathan Price is still at the center of the action. And in her treatment of Africa and the Africans she is at her best, exhibiting the acute perception, moral engagement, and lyrical prose that have made her previous novels so successful. --Alix Wilber
I'm always interested in ex-pat's stories and their eye opening discoveries but telling the stories from four points of view was frustrating to me for some reason.Published 9 months ago by Mike in Vancouver
It is hard to put down my thoughts here. I don't come from the same kind of background as the main characters but I understood and related to the mother, and all the daughters'... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Veronica
Barbara Kinsolver offers a novel based on her own childhood in Africa. She makes clear it is a novel, not an autobiography. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Dr. Jochen Robert Moehr
... and the best one to my mind.... her descriptions of Congo, of the live of the family, the story line and the character development are all reasons why this book needs to be... Read morePublished 24 months ago by Amazon Customer
I could not put this book down. It is beautifully written and each chapter is told by one of the five female members of the family, each offering their perspective. Read morePublished on Sept. 21 2011 by Shiraz
Absolutely loved this book. Loaned my original purchase to a friend who sent it a charity sales room. I wanted it on my bookshelf to read again so I purchased another copy!Published on Aug. 29 2010 by Kat
By far, this novel is one of my top ten favorites of all time. It's hard to actually pick one, but this resounds as a wonderful read-no matter how many times I re-read it. Read morePublished on May 25 2009 by R. La Salle
This is a fantastic book. It's a little slow to get into because each chapter is from a different daughter's point of view; but once I was a quarter of the way through I abandoned... Read morePublished on Jan. 14 2009 by mabel