The Poisonwood Bible

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The Poisonwood Bible
Poisonwood Bible.jpg
Author(s)Barbara Kingsolver
Cover artistJulie Metz
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Genre(s)Domestic fiction
Historical fiction
PublisherHarper Flamingo
Publication date1998
Media typePrint (Hardcover and Paperback) and audio-CD
Pages546 (hardcover), 543 (paperback)
ISBN0-06-017540-0
OCLC Number38916924
Dewey Decimal813/.54 21
LC ClassificationPS3561.I496 P65 1998
 
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The Poisonwood Bible
Poisonwood Bible.jpg
Author(s)Barbara Kingsolver
Cover artistJulie Metz
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Genre(s)Domestic fiction
Historical fiction
PublisherHarper Flamingo
Publication date1998
Media typePrint (Hardcover and Paperback) and audio-CD
Pages546 (hardcover), 543 (paperback)
ISBN0-06-017540-0
OCLC Number38916924
Dewey Decimal813/.54 21
LC ClassificationPS3561.I496 P65 1998

The Poisonwood Bible (1998) by Barbara Kingsolver is a bestselling novel about a missionary family, the Prices, who in 1959 move from Georgia (U.S. state) to the village of Kilanga in the Belgian Congo, close to the Kwilu River. (The nearest town, an impossibly long journey away, is Bulungu.) The Prices' story, which parallels their host country's tumultuous emergence into the post-colonial era, is narrated by the five women of the family: Orleanna, the long-suffering wife of Baptist missionary Nathan Price, and their four daughters—Rachel, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May.

Contents

Plot introduction

Orleanna Price narrates the introductory chapter in five of the novel's seven sections. The narrative then alternates among the four daughters, with a slight preference for the voice of the most outspoken one, Leah. The four girls increasingly mature, as each adapts differently to African village life, to the misogyny of their father Nathan, and the political turmoil that overtakes The Congo in the 1960s.

Since the Congolese villagers are seen through the eyes of the growing daughters, the view changes. At first, they appear as ridiculous savages. But as the girls mature, the villagers become fully fleshed-out human beings, immersed in a complex and sophisticated culture. Nathan's lack of responsiveness to this culture wears out his family's welcome, but he refuses to leave. Only after a series of misfortunes—culminating in the death of one of the daughters—do the women leave Nathan Price to his folly.

The survivors take different paths into their futures, the novel ending at the time of Mobutu Sese Seko's death in the 1990s. Rachel, the eldest, marries Axelroot at seventeen, and after two more marriages is the owner of a luxury hotel close to what is now Brazzaville. Leah marries Anatole, has a large family of four boys, and remains in the impoverished Congo. Adah returns to the United States with their mother Orleanna, attending college and later, medical school. She undergoes a lengthy experimental treatment that restores full use of her legs and she begins to speak. Orleanna herself returns to spending life on the Georgian coast, enjoying Adah's occasional visits.

Major characters

The Prices
Other characters

Reception and awards

The Poisonwood Bible was selected for Oprah's Book Club in 1999. The book won the 2000 Boeke Prize and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1999.

External links

See also