Written by Barbara Kingsolver
In the poisonwood bible audiobook i saw a respected friend reading this book several years and she seemed to be enjoying it. I’ve been somewhat curious about it ever since, and it was on sale for under 10 bucks via Audible last week, so I went ahead and grabbed it. It’s my first exposure to Kingsolver’s work, and I must say, it was quite impressive.
Poisonwood bible audiobook is the story of Nathan Price (a Baptist preacher), and the 5 women in his life: his wife and four daughters. In fact, the entire story is told (in succession) thru the mouths/minds of these ladies. Rev. Price is the dominant character, at least early on…and he turns out to be rather loathsome…abusive, arrogant and harshly judgmental. Unlike many religious “baddies”, he’s not just about “keeping up appearances”. He’s a true believer. But, as he doesn’t seem to see himself capable of much wrongdoing, he’s extremely hard on those around him. He has a ready answer for everything (and a corresponding scripture), and no need to consider the thoughts/opinions/feelings of others…including an apparent insensitivity to whether anyone really cares what he thinks, says or believes.
**Implant with a sense of mission, Nathan hauls his family off to Africa’s Belgian Congo trying to lead the “lost” Africans to Jesus. He just sees one method for doing things…and while he’s not dismissed without a second thought (for an assortment of reasons…including his money related influence on the town where he settles in), his impact is limited.** Nonetheless, he continues flogging the virtual team that pulls his wagon, looking for signs that all his labor is bearing fruit. Meanwhile, his family (through whose eyes we view all this) continues to suffer.
I really do recommend the poisonwood bible audiobook. . I enjoyed it tremendously. At about 15 hours, it’s a hefty listen, and Kingsolver is quite gifted at painting pictures and communicating feelings. It’s a very rich story. With one exception, the Price girls are likeable and intriguing personalities…and it’s fun and interesting watching their development over the 30 or so years covered by the poisonwood bible audiobook. I did feel like some of the early-to-mid-teen thoughts were WAY more articulate and well-considered than those of teen girls I’ve known over the years (writers who put adult thoughts into the minds of kids is a bit of a pet peeve for me), but I can only judge that from a bit of a distance. I also have to mention the humor, especially from the youngest and oldest daughters…in the form of malaprops. Early on, I thought these were mistakes from the narrator, but as the pattern became more evident, it definitely rated some wry smiles and the occasional belly laugh.
As much as I enjoyed the poisonwood bible audiobook, I also found it a bit troubling on some levels. While I admit that much damage has been done in the name of God, the missionaries that I’ve known personally have been passionate, self-sacrificial, caring individuals…and it made Nathan Price very difficult for me to relate to, rather than just want to strangle him. As a father, he left his family fairly terrorized as a result of their interactions with him…shell-shocked might be the best way to phrase it. It struck me on more than one occasion that none of the African characters ever seemed bad. They were just misunderstood. All the bad people were white, and mostly American.
I’m a bit too young (as is Kingsolver) to remember the current events of the late Fifties from an adult perspective. Her characters feel (at least the likeable ones) that American imperialism caused great, great harm to Africa during that time (predictably, the unlikeable ones were big flag-wavers). That may well be the case. I simply tend to think there may well have been more to the story in a historical sense. However, she says in her author’s note at the end of the poisonwood bible audiobook that she relied on a variety of source materials…and without having those myself, I can’t fairly evaluate whether she was pushing an agenda of sorts, or if she was simply telling a story. Kingsolver herself did spend part of her youth in Africa as the daughter of a medical doctor, and I’m sure that gave her unique insight into the landscapes and characters for the story. However, poisonwood bible audiobook also true that kids don’t feel the need to see both sides of the story.
It’s odd. I don’t usually feel the need to be defensive on behalf of characters in a work of fiction. That’s not a fair burden to put upon an author, poisonwood bible audiobook. And yet, I get so weary of anti-Americanism, anti-Christian sentiments and the bashing of fathers…that I did find myself wondering about some sense of balance. The bad guys might not have been as broadly drawn if she’d gone that direction…but I felt like some part of the story was left untold. And yet…a Stephen King baddie is usually white and male…and I don’t feel the need to defend white males everywhere when listening to King tell how they are hacking apart their latest victim. So maybe I’m just touchy for some reason at the moment.
As to the narrator: Dean Robertson. First of all, Dean is a woman…which is an unusual part of a woman’s name unless she’s dean of a college…at least in my experience.poisonwood bible audiobook She was easy to listen to, although I found her less given to voice characterizations than most audiobook narrators. Only 2 or 3 stood out for me from the rest. However, she was easy on the ears…articulate, nice voice tone, good pacing and good energy…and definitely didn’t get in the way of the story for me.
The Poisonwood Bible is a superb story, and worth the listen.
One Response for The Poisonwood Bible
1. Christian Missionary
Most missionaries have a lot of training to do before they hit the field full-time. Language, Bible study, culture, administration. It is either training done with a school or on-the-job with other missionaries with more experience.
The people I know and work with wouldn’t make very interesting novels because of the lack of conflict. I hope the book was written with a character plucked from the stereotypes of holly wood rather than the experiences of the author.
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