"Great characters and story"
I loved this book. I was worried it would be depressing or long winded, but thankfully it wasnt. The story is interesting and the characters are great, with great moments of humour. The narrator was particularly good, really bringing the characters to life
"Fascinating exploration of family and morality"
I rarely listen to stories more than once but I have now bought this book in print and think it is something I will dip back into in the future.
All the women brought something to the story and because it was told from various points of view in the form of journal entries it was possible to see the same situation differently. Each of the five main female characters added depth and richness to the story.
Robertson's performance was superb, bringing life to the characters as well as humour and warmth. She managed to bring out all their different personalities without resorting to odd accents.
The ending was very moving. The realisation that the Congo had forever changed the lives of these women, for good or ill, and the closing of old wounds as they moved on with their lives. Magical.
This was such an interesting story, sometimes reming me of Little Women, but much bigger and richer. It really made me think - about religion, about the relationship between men and women, about the things done in Africa in the name of democracy. It's taught me things about the Congo and those war torn parts of central Africa that I never knew before, and has made me question some previously held ideas.
"Entertaining, informative and profound"
It was probably Chinua Achebe’s recent death that prompted me to read this book – many years after everyone else had read it and raved about it. It is rave-worthy. It is a wonderfully evocative story narrated by a mother and her four daughters reluctantly dragged into the pre-revolutionary Congo by a fire-and-brimstone, Southern Baptist father. The mission family experience life in an obscure African village at the most tumultuous time on the continent as the wave of independence sweeps through (or past) them.
My first encounter with Kingsolver was The Lacuna and I stopped less than halfway through because the story was tedious and the author was also the narrator (audiobook) and she was just dreadful. So it took me a little while to forgive her and try another title.
This time I was very pleasantly surprised. I expected a very sombre exploration of cultures and religion, and although these exist throughout the book, my first reaction was to laugh out loud. The voices of the narrators bring out their idiosyncrasies, their (sometimes) hilarious perspectives on their lives. The story is strong and simple. They remind me of the Paul White Jungle Doctor stories which my father used to read to us. The tone is identical and the stories are simple, honest and natural.
But in addition to the quaint retelling of these village events, the deeper issues of competing religious views and the tragic consequences of fanaticism make this a most memorable novel. Very highly recommended.
The narrator (this time) is exceptionally good and her French is quite acceptable. I won't comment on her Afrikaans pronunciation but that is understandable.
I read this book years ago, and enjoyed it, but having just listened to it via audible, I have picked up on so many more nuances and clever tricks of language that I missed in the dense text of hard copy. Kingsolver is the mistress of words that can mean more than one thing, indeed she creates a character who makes meanings of words that are read backwards! Even the title is a play on the dual meaning of the word the preacher uses for Jesus - in the tribal language of the congolese people he is trying to convert, it means poisonwood - a deadly plant that will kill you. His ignorance, however, is foiled by the understanding of his wife and four daughters, each of whom have their own narrative voice and story. An absolutely compelling story that is at once a celebration of freedom and independence and a tragic exposition of social prejudice and expectation. Not a light read, but certainly one not to be missed!
"As good as I hoped"
I remember seeing this book on the shelves when it first came out years and years ago. I always fancied reading it but something held me back every time. Then it popped up on audible when I was looking to use my monthly credit and I thought I'd give it a go. I have recently listened to 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and 'Go Set a Watchman' (brilliantly read by Cissy Spacek and Reece Witherspoon) so the Southern accent was something that I have found very relaxing and soothing to listen to. The story really captured my imagination and I liked the characters tremendously for their individuality and courage. Historically it was fascinating seeing how the Congo was fought over and 'claimed' by other countries while the Congolese just got on with life as best they could. I think the author does a great job right at the end summing up how the West think they can solve all of the third world country's health problems and then by doing so just create a brand new even bigger problem - overpopulation, and a result of that is starvation, famine and war.
My only criticism would be the way that we follow the family very closely with only months between sections and then suddenly at the end it jumps any number of years, and does this several times. I think the author could have filled us in on some of the really big events that took place when the girls were adults, that are simply glossed over.
Aside from that it was a really enjoyable listen and the lives of the family will definitely stay with me for a while yet.
30 year's of maturity and wisdom has created a Bible in itself. This fictional work of art cannot be appreciated unless you in full listening mode as every sentence requires absorption and reflection. I will revisit this book several times more if only to gain some of the wisdom shown by the Author.
"Stunning. Fun, moving and thought provoking."
What a wonderful book. Evocative and insightful. Beautifully narrated into the bargain. Five stars all round.
I chose.this book for its peculiar title and felt the need to listen intently. The history of the Congo interests me. The church and its vision once held me. Barbara Kingsolver weaves a story of many parts and she tells it with such visceral aplomb.
The poetic nature of this work sings. The portrayal of a people in the Congo is a work of art. This book in my view is chillingly enthralling.
Please listen to the sample before purchasing. The narrator is so awful.,the American scent is twangy and read with not the slightest intonation.
The plot looks fabulous but had to be returned. My ears were crying after an hour of this!
"The narrator can ruin a good story"
Having read Barbara Kingsolver previously and really enjoyed it I was looking forward to this. It seemed a tale I could learn from as well as enjoy. I cannot get past the narrator who is reading this as if her train is due any minute. She is reading this so fast that the level of concentration needed to follow her means that you cannot go about your tasks while listening which is what i like to do. It is such hard work that there is no pleasure in it. I may get The Poison Wood Bible on Kindle but it's going back to Audible.