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The Poisonwood Bible Audiobook

The Poisonwood Bible

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Publisher's Summary

The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them all they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it - from garden seeds to Scripture - is calamitously transformed on African soil.

This tale of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction, over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa, is set against history's most dramatic political parables.

The Poisonwood Bible dances between the darkly comic human failings and inspiring poetic justices of our times. In a compelling exploration of religion, conscience, imperialist arrogance, and the many paths to redemption, Barbara Kingsolver has brought forth her most ambitious work ever.

©2004 Barbara Kingsolver; (P)2004 Brilliance Audio

What the Critics Say

"Haunting..A novel of character, a narrative shaped by keen-eyed women." (New York Times Book Review)
"The book's sheer enjoyability is given depth by Kingsolver's insight and compassion for Congo, including its people, and their language and sayings." (Boston Globe)
"Beautifully written....Kingsolver's tale of domestic tragedy is more than just a well-told yarn.. Played out against the bloody backdrop of political struggles in Congo that continue to this day, it is also particularly timely." (People)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (4997 )
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Performance
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  •  
    dan 01-07-13
    dan 01-07-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not my favorite"
    Would you try another book from Barbara Kingsolver and/or Dean Robertson?

    of course


    Would you be willing to try another book from Barbara Kingsolver? Why or why not?

    i love BK and have read manyeeee of her stories ... i prefer her fiction and her fantastic characters


    What about Dean Robertson’s performance did you like?

    dont know


    Was The Poisonwood Bible worth the listening time?

    mmmmm sort of


    Any additional comments?

    disappointed, but didn't do my research ... selected only because it was a BK.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven Charlottesville, VA, United States 12-20-12
    Steven Charlottesville, VA, United States 12-20-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Kingsolver's Opus to date"
    What did you like best about this story?

    Blistering irony, that will make you want to listen for a few minutes, and then pause to think it over. I move from laughing to tears in just a few sentences.

    The pacing of the story is excellent, and moves the reader quickly along.

    The ever changing perspective, from the voice of each of the females in the book creates a multitude of differing points of view.

    This is my second time to listen to the book, and I still recommend it with our reservation.


    If you could rename The Poisonwood Bible, what would you call it?

    The Reverend's Folly


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Savvy shopper 12-11-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wish I had read this novel earlier"

    After a friend recommended The Poisonwood Bible to me, I purchased it from Audible and this was the first audio book I read. Barbara Kingsolver's character development and ability to "speak" from the heart of her characters is astounding. The listener is transported to the deepest corners of Africa with this missionary family and as the tale unravels, the history of revolution is intertwined with the confusion of faith and the reality of growing up. This is one of the best books I have ever had the pleasure of reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bay Area Shopper 12-11-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "NOT narrated by Robertson Dean"
    What disappointed you about The Poisonwood Bible?

    I purchased this book for the narrator. I feel a little bad giving a 1 star rating, since I stopped listening as soon as I heard a stranger's voice.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrea 12-04-12
    Andrea 12-04-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good read, not chicklit!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, this was excellent. The reader was exceptional and the story engaging.


    What other book might you compare The Poisonwood Bible to and why?

    I would compare this to the books of Francine Rivers.


    Which character – as performed by Dean Robertson – was your favorite?

    I identified most with the mother. She struggled with keeping her children safe and keeping her faith as well.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Poisonwood Bible and why?

    Strangely enough the father was the most memorable character. This was the flawed character in the story.


    Any additional comments?

    Easy listening, good story from a true storyteller.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Annie USA 12-02-12
    Annie USA 12-02-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Wonderful Characters..."

    What an emotional read... I loved the development of all the characters over time... and the different "voices".. I ran the gamut of emotions from sad to happy... admiration to disgust.. and frustration to acceptance... A beautiful story of a family of imperfect humans in an imperfect world.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Simonton Texas, USA 11-20-12
    J. Simonton Texas, USA 11-20-12 Member Since 2012

    Fun Happens

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent listen for my first epic"
    What made the experience of listening to The Poisonwood Bible the most enjoyable?

    The story is gripping and the author does a wonderful job of painting the scenery for the listener.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The fact that it wove in the ideals of the American public of the era and set those against the enduring culture of the Congo.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    My favorite scene is when the ants invade the village- it was terrifying but also the most exciting thing to me in the whole book. I would never thought of soemthing as tiny as an ant instilling such terror.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Poisonwood Bible and why?

    The father/minister because I never knew what he was going to do. He was obviously disturbed but his family was at his mercy and their reactions to his spiral downward were captivating.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dawn 11-18-12
    Dawn 11-18-12 Member Since 2004
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    "Extraordinary story, perspectives, characters."

    So glad I finally listened to this book. It was one of the best ever. I learned and lived a new perspective in an engrossing story with the most interesting people.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MarilynTownsend 10-29-12
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    "My first Audible Book"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Poisonwood Bible to be better than the print version?

    I have not seen the print version.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    No real favourite character. I found them all fascinating.


    What does Dean Robertson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The version I had was narrated by Barbara Kingsolver, I thought. Found it interesting to be narrated by the author.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I would never have the time to listen to in one sitting but found it great in the car on long trips.


    Any additional comments?

    My daughter introduced me to audible books and I will continue to use your service.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan 10-14-12
    Susan 10-14-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Get the Kindle or print version."

    While the story may have been engrossing, the narrator ruined it. She read too fast, spoke in almost a monotone, and sounded like she was reading. Every character sounded the same and I often forgotten who was speaking. As the book is a series of 5 first person narrative, this is a big fail for me.

    It could have been a great book, but I will never know. The narrator made the book a chore to finish and it will be a long time, if ever, before I try it in print.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Linda
    ManchesterUnited Kingdom
    1/25/09
    Overall
    "Compelling"

    This is a compelling, multi-layered novel. It tells the story of Nathan Price, a bigoted Baptist minister who takes his wife and four daughters away from the comfort of their American home to the diseased and famine ridden Congo. This move eventually leads to tragedy and to the break-up of the family. Although sad in parts it's not a heavy listen - it's hard to put down as it's written with great humour, particularly the passages relating to the eldest daughter Rachel with all her Malapropisms.
    My only criticism is that the author spent far too long expounding her political views in the last quarter of the book. Those views of the ignorance of imperialism speak for themselves through the story. Aside from that, well worth the read, thought provoking and interesting from the historical perspective.

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • metalwork
    9/22/10
    Overall
    "excellent read"

    This is an excellent book in many ways and I would recommend it to anyone not just for its story but for the relevance of its politics.It is humane, insightful and finely written, and therefore deserves to be much better narrated. It is read too fast, with little expression and with no attempt to vocally differentiate between the characters, in particular the mother and her 4 daughters, the main characters, all sound like the same person. Sadly, many of the subtleties of the writing, especially in the more moving parts, are spoiled and occasionally lost altogether in the narrator's disregard for punctuation and apparent hurry to get it all over and done with! Good audio book narrators don't just read aloud, they act as well. This narrator just reads it aloud.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Kirstine
    Bonnyrigg, United Kingdom
    11/6/10
    Overall
    "A good story over-burdened with detail"

    The author has created a wealth of strong characters: the awful, overbearing, self-righteous Baptist missionary Nathan Price; his long-suffering wife and four very different daughters that he drags to the Congo in the late 1950s to satisfy his desire to bring Jesus to the natives. The Congolese he encounters are resourceful and pragmatic and he greatly under-estimates them. It's an epic story of battling against the odds set against the tragic political upheavals caused by US meddling that ruined the country. There is much of interest in the book, but I felt there was too much descriptive detail and attempts to draw moral parallels that slowed down the narrative. The author knows a lot about the Congo having lived there and has obviously done much research, but a good story has become over-burdened with her desire to include too much of this information. There are many characters with unfamiliar-sounding names that made it difficult to keep track of who was whom: a difficulty increased by the colourless and sometimes overly hurried narration in a monotonous voice with no attempt to differentiate among the characters. The book is structured such that we get the story told from the perspective of the mother and four daughters in turn but I kept losing track of who was 'speaking' as the narrator sounded the same all the time. A pity as some audio books are brought to life by a skilled narrator who can change voice as each character speaks.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Kerry
    Irthlingborough, Northants, United Kingdom
    3/16/11
    Overall
    "Read this book to get the most out of it!"

    I did not get as much out of this book as I would have done by reading it. The story, although a little slow at the start, really takes off and is well worth persevering with. However I did not like the reader and thought she made no effort to read each character differently. This book is based upon the way the women characters see life in a Congolese village at the time of the uprising in 1961. The youngest is 5. The reader did not attempt to make the listener understand which character was 'speaking'. i would have got more out of reading it 'in the voice' of each character. Therefore I cannot recommend the audible version - though i do recommend the book.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Sarah
    liskeard, cornwall, United Kingdom
    10/12/10
    Overall
    "So beautiful...."

    I listened to this book after hearing Tim Butchers account of his trip down the Congo (Blood River).

    It is one of my favourite audio books so far.

    The characters are so beautifully drawn, they almost seem real. In fact, at times I found it hard to believe that it was a work of fiction and not based on real events (although the political backdrop is, i believe, based on what really happened and is still happening).

    It is, in places, heart wrenchingly sad and there isn't really a totally happy ending, but still I felt satisfied at the end.

    Some of the descriptions of people, places and emotions are almost poetic.

    It's a lovely, feast of a book...

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Tara
    Bedford, United Kingdom
    9/25/10
    Overall
    "Terrible Narration"

    I was really looking forward to listening to this as a number of people had recommended and I had heard some great things on the radio 4 book club. However I was really disappointed, the narrator didn't bring the characters alive at all, she was very one dimensional and her voice was actually pretty annoying. The story was interesting but I'm afraid I totally switched off due to the lack of commitment from the narrator. Just goes to show how important the narrator's job is when creating an audiobook, great books often fall flat if you get the wrong person reading them.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Susan Rogers
    HARROGATE, United Kingdom
    1/15/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Intriguing story"
    Any additional comments?

    This is a great story told cleverly through different eyes. I really enjoyed it, but the narrator didn't making it clear whose story she was telling because one chapter heading followed as if it were the next sentence without pausing. On numerous occasions I had to re-wind to check whose story I was now hearing. Thankfully it was such a good tale that it transcended the poor narration.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Sally
    Newport, United Kingdom
    8/6/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating exploration of family and morality"
    Would you listen to The Poisonwood Bible again? Why?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    What about Dean Robertson’s performance did you like?

    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.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • steven
    4/26/13
    Overall
    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • mandy esseen
    South Wales, UK
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "Poisonwood Bible"

    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!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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