The Posionwood Bible – Review

Currently on Loan from the Library:

Hell is Empty by: Craig Johnson

Bel Canto by: Ann Pratchett

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by: Andrew Sean Greer

Breaking Point by: C.J. Box

The Poisonwood Bible by: Barbara Kingslover

Other Books I’m Reading:

Anathem by: Neil Stephenson

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingslover sounds like a good proposition to start with. Rev. Nathan Price decides he has a call to be a missionary in Africa. So he beats the Missionary Society who doesn’t want to send him to Africa into submission. Then he drags his wife, who is not equipped to handle the mission, and his four daughters to a small village in Africa. The book is set in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s when Congo is starting to become Zaire.

Sadly this book turned out to be long on plotting, and short on execution. So what I’m going to do is make a list of the seven things I found most irritating about the book. Then I’m going to stop writing. This is not because my list will be comprehensive. It’s because I don’t want to get slimy venom all over the internet.

  1. Rev. Price is a Baptist. Yet, he believes in and preaches from the Apocrypha. There is no explanation given for this beyond one of the daughters remarking that her father believes the Apocrypha is scripture and thinks all Baptists should too. Okay then.
  2. Rev. Price seems absolutely bent on baptizing the native children in the nearby river. But the natives don’t want to be baptized in the river. They don’t want to get eaten by the crocodiles. Totally reasonable. Yet, though it is noted that at home they use a big bath tub for baptizing, Rev. Price continues to insist on the river. Why? Never explained.
  3. A Baptist preacher that wants to baptize children who have not yet reached to age of accountability. Hum. Interesting.
  4. When Rev. Price’s wife finally decides to leave with her daughters, she allows the seventeen year old to run off with the smarmy pilot who they have all disliked throughout the book. Even though it is obvious that the pilot has no intention of even marrying the daughter. Well, true, her parenting skills aren’t top notch. Still Mom should have been horrified at the idea.
  5. Likewise the sixteen year old daughter is allowed to stay in Africa unmarried, with the black teacher from the local school, who is clearly in love with her. At least this couple gets married. But boy, you’d think a white Southern Baptist mother from Georgia would be at least hesitant to promote an interracial couple in the 1960’s. Then there is the interesting parenting choice involved in leaving your sick sixteen year old in Africa with a man not her husband.
  6. After the women leave Africa, the book devolves from showing the action, to telling all that happens. It drags pretty badly.
  7. At no point is Rev. Price written in a way that allows me to believe he was the sort of pastor who could have kept an American congregation together, let alone fostered one in Africa. It’s not just that he’s unbending or a zealot. It’s more like he has no basic understanding of human beings, not even himself. In fact that whole Apocrypha thing probably would have gotten him fired from most of the Baptist congregations I’ve seen in action. So how has this man got a job in the first place?

This book could have used a harsher editor. Or Zombies. Lots and lots of Zombies.

Favorite Scene: The last one. I was finally at the end.

Favorite Quote: I refuse to open this book again to find one.

Enjoyability: Two stars. One star for getting published, on star for having a plot.

Where to read this book: Don’t.

Further reading: Hopefully something that could not be improved through the addition of zombies. Which begs the question. Do Zombies make everything better?



Posted on August 14, 2013, in Fiction, fun, Reading, review and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. We’re reading this one for book club next week, and, well, I quit after the first 60 pages because I just could not one second longer.

    Also, I love your review style. The little summary at the end is kind of brilliant.


    Thank you! And I totally don’t blame you for stopping. I probably should have.

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