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   The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible
by Barbara Kingsolver

Category: Fiction / General
606 pages; ISBN: 057120175X

Rating: 7/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: South African Book Review


This book tells the story of a mother and her four children, taken to the Congo (pre-independence) by their husband and father in his desperation to atone for his sins through missionary zeal. Ultimately it is about the devastating consequences of our often thoughtless and haphazard actions. A similar thread, which runs through the main story line and the relationships between the sisters and their mother, is the way in which we take responsibility for our actions, and those of our ancestors.

It`s hard to believe that this is a work of fiction. The four daughters through which the book is narrated are very strong, full characters, (although at times a little too consistent in their thoughts and actions), who grow and change as events progress. Despite the wonderful characters and their remarkably astute and highly amusing accounts of events, it is in her portrayal of the Congo that Ms Kingsolver truly excels. The Congo breathes the life of informal markets, dust, heat and danger. The extremes and vibrancy of Africa sets a pace through which the family tumbles as they struggle to anticipate and respond to the consequences of their actions. As time goes on events broaden from their experiences within a tiny village to urban life and the wider political events of what was then Zaire and the reign of Mobuto Sese Seko. These events and the daily struggle of life form a crucial aspect of their realisation of the extent to which one can and should be held accountable for one`s actions, or lack of them.

Christine MacDonald - SABR


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