I first heard of this book on one of Oprah’s Book Club episodes, god knows how many years ago. It struck me as something I should read. Which I never did until now.
It’s not exactly the literary masterpiece I was expecting, but still a very good read. The story takes place in Congo (referred to in the book as ‘the‘ Congo), where Nathan Price, a religious fanatic reverend, takes his wife and their four young daughters to do missionary work. It soon becomes clear that the people of Congo already have their own religions and don’t need Jesus Christ as their saviour so to speak. Apart from that, things are stirring in the country on a political level as well which will soon change everything…
The story is told from the perspectives of Orleanna Price (the mother) and her four daughters, Rachel, Leah, Adah and Ruth-May, in random order (except for Orleanna always being the one who’s introducing a new part of the book).
The writing is very poetic, yet became a bit annoying in Adah’s chapters after awhile. That was my experience at least.
Furthermore, I didn’t know a lot about (the) Congo apart from a few ER-episodes covering the wars which started after Mobutu was overthrown. I was very impressed with the episodes on Kisangani back then. The Poisonwood Bible mostly covers the period of the declaration of indepence of the Belgian Congo in 1960 and basically the entire span of Mobutu’s regime which started shortly after that and ended in 1997.
My heart truly cries for Africa. There’s a quote in this book that goes something like: “The Western world is so obsessed with destroying and healing Africa at the same time” (if anyone knows the real quote, please don’t hesitate to add it in a comment; I can’t be arsed to go through the painfully awful Kindle version I read again), which I found remarkably true, especially after reading this book. Recommended to anyone who’s interested in Africa or just enjoys a good tearjerking novel.