Thursday, May 14, 2009
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Last night at a book club gathering, Barbara Kingsolver's name came up. I remembered how much I enjoyed reading her novel The Poisonwood Bible a few years ago (for a different book club--I can't get enough of book clubs, but that's another story). The Poisonwood Bible is the kind of book I never would have selected on my own--the plot details on the inside cover would have scared me away: a zealous missionary drags his family to Africa where they encounter snakes, ants, malaria, death. Yuck, way too depressing. But that's why reading groups are so great, because you are pressured (in a good way) to read "outside the box." This book, despite heavy subject matter, is blessed with snappy first person narration by the family daughters and mother. Additionally, Kingsolver excels in bringing the full bouquet of Africa to her readers: the smells of the marketplace, the heat and beauty of the landscape. I'll probably never go to Africa, but I felt like I'd been there after reading this book. And isn't that literature at its best-- transporting the reader to another time and place? This book succeeds in that mission (even if the missionary father royally fails in his--oh, you'll just revel in his blunders!).