The Poisonwood Bible has been a book that I have wanted to read ever since I read positive reviews about it back in in 1998. I have felt that it’s one book that I HAVE to read and having finished it yesterday I’m glad I did.
It’s 1959 and the Price family move from the U.S. to a tiny village in the Belgian Congo, led by the insane Nathan Price, the family go through a maturation process through their trials of life.
Sounds clichéd right?
Well the book is told through the eyes of all the Price women wife Orleanna , The shallow Rachel, Fearless Leah , the crippled mute Adah and very young Ruth May. There’s also the political aspect as the Congo gained independence in 1960 and a few months after was taken over by the dictator Mobutu. Trust me this is no Swiss Family Robinson story.
As Nathan’s aim in converting the natives to Christianity (and to western ways) fails completely, he loses his mind and becomes unbearable and as a result he is deserted and then the book shifts to the Price women shaping their futures. Rachel leads a glitzy life , Leah marries a local school teacher , Adah and Orleanna return to the states, the former manages to overcome her muteness and her stumbling walk and becomes a doctor. As for Ruth May – well her fate takes a different turn midway through the book.
Through Leah and Rachel we get a glimpse of Africa during the years 1965 – 1997 so the political emphasis becomes heavy but one main theme that runs throughout is that the Congo changed the girls lives and futures.
Although I found the book very enjoyable I did feel that it was a bit overlong at times, especially during the Rachel chapters, which contain a bit too much padding but it was an insightful read and helped me understand some details about this torrid part of history.