I foolishly ignored all the reviews that said the narrator was horrible. I thought I'd see for myself. BIG mistake. The book is excellent and I highly recommend reading it. I started with the audible recording but soon became utterly disgusted with the narrator who has absolutely no imagination and must be someone's wife or friend owed a favor. But the story is a good one so I got the book and totallly loved it. Don't waste your time with this recording!
I would profess that this book is a masterpiece written by a master writer. However, I was deeply disappointed with the narrator. How does this happen ; bad narrators getting these jobs? DO BETTER RESEARCH AND TEST RUNS BEFORE PLACING A CONTRACT BEFORE THESE MISERABLE NARRATORS! PLEASE! This narrator is cold and lacks artistry. She also speeds through lyrical sections of beautiful language that should be fully absorbed and savored. Eventually you get used to this cold and seemingly heartless and artless style, but it continues to intermittently frustrate and annoy. This narrator resembles, to my mind, some kind of stern and mean schoolmaster from the 19th century living to make her students miserable. Generally the narrators of audiobooks are thoughtfully and well chosen, but i am beginning to suspect that certain jobs are given as favors to friends or colleagues, for how else could lousy narrators get these jobs. I do not understand. The Audiobook business is, thankfully, an increasing market. I hope this fact will continue to encourage producers to make better and more conscientious choices when hiring narrators.
Nonetheless, this book is such a fine work of literature, that I would recommend it in spite of this very unfavorable narrator.
Short, Simple, No Spoilers
Southern Baptist minister from Georgia with wife and four blonde daughters in tow head to the Congo to save souls. Agree with the author's POV and enjoy her detailed, meticulous, unassuming writing style. However, this book felt monotonous, tedious, and banal. I grasp the concept and love the hidden sarcasm, just wish she could have wrapped it up sooner. Faced with 6 more hours to go, I had to stop. Maybe I missed something important at the end, but at this point, would rather move on to more interesting books.
Not sure why this book always scores so high on lists. Maybe it's the fact someone tells the truth about how sad it is people feel the need to force their beliefs on "uncivilized" people who are perfectly content. Revelation indeed, but work more closely with your editor, Ms. Kingsolver. Also, the southern accent grated and reverberated in my ears.
I have to admit that I'm a total Audible junkie. MUST have book going at all times. I may be the subject of a family intervention someday.
One of the best books I've ever read/listened to. One of those rare books that for me, illuminated a new vision of the world I live in and my place in it. Would give more stars if I could. Powerful, deeply moving, inspiring, and a classic on par with the likes of "To Kill a Mockingbird". I know I'll sit with this one for a time and will absolutely have to read it again when I'm ready.
Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving or riding my bike.
This is another book for which excellent listener reviews are already available but which I would like to call to the attention of anyone who may have missed them so far. (While I am on the subject, allow me to apologize to Westergren Viveca. The single negative response to her very interesting review came when my finger slipped. I wish Amazon would make it possible to correct such mistakes.)
One caveat. This is not a book which will slip easily into one ear while the other is atuned to traffic or a house full of distractions or the underdrone exigencies of a busy day. It is full of riches which will be missed by the casual listener. Perhaps this explains the problems some people have had with the narration. Dean Robertson brilliantly captures the rhythm, inflection and expressive idiosyncracies Kingsolver has written into these Georgia bred women and differentiates them in wonderful verisimilitude. Their words come alive in the voice of this gifted actor, and since the speaker is clearly named at the beginning of each chapter, no pyrotechnics of pitch or timbre are required to identify them. The result is a very truthful and telling characterization in every instance. Nor would a slower reading have served the text. These women do not speak slowly, savoring the poetry in their mouths. That bit of truth is one of the delights of this book. Just as with any really excellent piece of writing, there may be times when you want to go back. and dig a little deeper into the meaning and beauty. It is worth the time and effort.
That was a pretty long caveat, wasn't it! Sorry. But do consider treating yourself to Barbara Kingsolver's ravishing book sometime when you can really listen with both ears.
I hesitated listening to the Poisonwood Bible as an audibook because I enjoy Ms Kingsolver's lyrical prose, and I didn't want to miss that experience. But as it is for most of us these days, I have less time to read than I do to listen. So when Audible introduced the new "listen and read" feature I decided to try it out on this book.
Wow. This new feature is going to change my life! Not only does it let us experience the best of both worlds - immersing ourselves in the author's writing style, re-reading particularly important or complicated passages, etc, but it also lets us experience the performance of the story, bringing the characters to life via the narration in a way they don't come to life on the page. Plus, we can get through books so much faster! I would listen on my long commute and then kick back in the evening with my Kindle, synced to the exact position where I'd left off in the book, and spend time enjoying the book. It's a truly seamless back and forth experience.
In this way I got to hear the correct pronunciation of African names and terms I am sure I would have butchered if left to my own devices. But if the audio narration got too complicated (lots of character names, etc.) I could go back and reference the book and get reoriented.
I disagree with those reviewers who did not like Ms. Robertson's narration. I thought it was spot-on - perfectly capturing the personality of each girl through her unique accent and speaking pattern. Her narration made these characters come to life for me.
I don't know whether I found the audio or the written version of the book better. It was the combination of the two formats that elevated this book to a new level.
As for the book itself, I thought it was powerful, informative, compelling, and heartbreaking. I'd say it's Ms. Kingsolver's best book - managing to give a historical account of the Congo while also capturing the heart and soul of the people. The narrative device of telling this story from the perspective of the young girls who must adapt, grow and survive in this foreign and hostile environment is genius.
Ms. Kingsolver is often criticized for having an agenda in her presentation of facts and of being preachy in her opinions. She does not avoid those characteristics in this book, but the overall story is so well told that it's easy to forgive her.
If you're looking for a book that will sweep you up and take you to places you've never dreamed of and will teach you things along the way - this is it.
The audio books I get tend to be either 1) scifi or 2) things for my husband and me to listen to on long road trips--humor or history
Four women, four voices, four experiences of four decades in the history of Africa. From the first paragraph describing the Congolese jungle, this book slithered out and wrapped itself around me and I didn’t want it to ever let me go. The language is exquisite, the characters riveting and the plot dramatic in the best sense of the word. That Kingsolver also manages to pack in a complex lesson on the history of imperialism on top of all that is simply mind-boggling.
The setting is Africa, but events like those in this book have happened many times all over the world. Unfortunately, citizens of imperialist nations, including the U.S., are privileged to “sail through from cradle to grave with a conscience clean as snow,” as Kingsolver says in the first chapter. Having lived in Chile, I understand far too well what U.S. foreign policy is capable of doing. So I found the story of what happened to the Congo under first Belgian direct rule and then U.S. indirect rule depressingly familiar. Yet it is a story that needs to be heard over and over until the citizens of the “first world” finally hold our own governments accountable for the misery we have caused in the “third world.”
I found this to be a truly masterful depiction of imperialism and its effects on entire nations, as told through the stories of four American women. Dare yourself to read this book with an open mind and you may begin to see that we are all co-conspirators in the fate of our fellow human beings.
I enjoyed this book so much I didn't want it to finish. The story was amazingly in depth and very well researched.
Telling the story from the different female characters gave you an opportunity to become part of the book by relating to those characters as they grew and changed. You got to understand each character, and also how others saw them. The narator did a great job of differentiating between all the characters and this made it easy to immerse yourself into those individuals.
I loved it and contemplating listening again and bound the get more out of it second time around
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
Any American who was stationed overseas in the 50s, 60s, or 70s will find a lot to relate to here. Kingsolver's situation may have been more "rustic" than most, but the culture shock, the unpreparedness, the evolution of the connection with the locals, the unexpected effects on the children, the discovery that the locals are far more capable of running their own lives than the Americans imagined, the forces that keep the family together, and the (often stronger) forces that rip families apart, are all on display here. It doesn't matter if you were military or State Department or Peace Corps or missionaries. Kingsolver writes a fairly honest, balanced account of one family's experience through all of this. For those who weren't stationed overseas, this would be a good way to get an idea of what it was like. All of this is apart from the actual specific story Kingsolver is trying to tell. All I'll say about that is that it is a really well done example of what happens when idealism hits reality.
The Poisonwood Bible was my first audiobook download from Audible. What an excellent choice! The narrator truly brings the book to life. The book is an adventure story, as well as a history lesson, & beautifully written. I have recommended this book/audiobook to no less than 50 people since completing it. This book is one of my all time favorites.