Sunday, 8 November 2009

Beloved Books

Man oh man, are we in for it now, was my thinking about the Congo from the instant we first set foot.
Thus speaks Rachel Rebekah Price the 'extreme blonde' in The Poisonwood Bible. Fifteen-years old and completely self-centred she unwillingly spends a year in a remote village in Africa with her missionary father, mother and three sisters, Adah, Leah and Ruth May. Pretty tough for a girl 'whose only hopes for the year were a sweet sixteen party and a pink mohair twin set.'

The Poisonwood Bible is a fabulous novel. I loved Methuselah, the African Grey parrot, who has learned to swear from the previous missionary ('Piss off, Methuselah!') and the early scene where Nathan tries to cultivate the African soil. Arrogantly chopping down orchids to make way for beans and tomatoes he falls foul of the poisonwood tree which brings him out in a weeping, welted rash.

In her introduction to this edition Barbara Kingsolver says that she waited nearly 30 years for the wisdom and maturity to write this novel. It's a beautiful evocation of Africa.

9 comments:

Laura McDonald said...

Oh, I loved that novel too. Your review makes me want to read it again. That and The Red Tent have to be my two favorite contemporary novels.

Karen said...

I loved this one too - it's been ages since I read it too so I might have to re-visit it. Have you read her new book yet??

Steph said...

I've actually never read this one, but lately I've become a lot more interested in visiting Africa through literature, so I think I'm going to have to seek this one out in the future. I've pretty much only heard good things about it, and it sounds like it's so full of life and charm.

Cath said...

One of the best books I've ever read - the whole thing just blew me away. Glad you enjoyed it too.

minervamouse said...

I have both The Poisonwood Bible' and 'The Prodigal Summer' on my shelves but sadly haven't read either yet.
Have decided to follow Susan Hill's example and have a year of not buying books and reading what I already have starting in January.
Not sure how long I will last but I am working on the principle that the more people I tell, the more likely I am to stick to it as I hate having to admit I have failed on anything!

Tracey said...

I really enjoyed this one as well and also your thoughts on it.

Vintage Reading said...

Laura, I've not read The Red Tent. Strange, I've read a couple of other Kingsolver novels but they don't move me the way that The Poisonwood Bible does.

Karen, I see there is a very handsome new Kingsolver novel in the shops. I'll add it to my Christmas list!

Steph, I feel like an African reading project, too. I'm thinking particularly of Out of Africa which I loved when I read it many years ago.

Cath, I'm reading so much more into it second time around. First time I read it I just kept avidly turning the pages to find out what happens. This time I'm taking it slowly and trying to understand the politics of the Congo as well as the plot.

minervamouse, I've read other Kingsolver novels, but TPB is by far the best in my opinion. I envy you coming to it for the first time.

Tracey, thanks for visiting! Looks like we have similar reading tastes.

OhSoVintage said...

I recently read this book but wasn't that impressed with it. My friend, who I passed it on to, thinks it one of the best books she has ever read!

Sara said...

I loved this story! It is one that has stuck with me in the years since I read it. It was amazing how the author gives the reader a sense of the strangeness of the culture when they first arrive and by the end of the book it has become so familiar and loved...what a fabulous story.