The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver: Book Review

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The Poisonwood Bible

2 Stars

The Poisonwood Bible is about a Southern Baptist family that decides to go be missionaries in the Congo in 1960, just before the country was supposedly granted its independence from Belgium. The Prices didn’t bother with language or culture training, they just took off to spread the word about Jesus. Of course they weren’t prepared for what they found, so of course they got in a lot of trouble.

I can’t exactly put my finger on what I didn’t like. I just know that it felt like it dragged on and on and on and on. I sort of expected the book to end when they finally left the village, but I still had another 150 pages to go. It could be that I never really cared much about any of the characters, although I was glad when it was Adah’s turn to tell part of the story because I did like her wordplay.

I gathered from the forward that the author spent time in the Congo as a child, so she is telling a story that she has some first-hand knowledge of. And I was left wondering when we in the US are ever going to learn to keep our nose out of other countries’ business. We are not painted in a very flattering light in this book.

All I can say is that this was not the book for me. I’m rapidly reaching the conclusion that I should stay away from Oprah’s books because I don’t think I’ve really enjoyed any of them. That being said, if you like Oprah’s books, you will probably like this one also.

Reviewed September 5, 2007

Let me add that I have enjoyed the other Kingsolver books that I have read.

Read an excerpt.

Find author Barbara Kingsolver on her website.

Buy The Poisonwood Bible at


Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. These are old reviews I wrote on GoodReads. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement!

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.

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  1. I didn't like this book either. I never understood what was supposedly so great about it. I enjoy her others better.

  2. I was surprised to find how much I loved this book! I think what I loved best about it were the five different points of view from which we get to experience Congo in its poverty and struggle. The five, no, six completely different reactions to the people and customs and life style there, really drew me in. I also enjoyed how Kingsolver made each character's voice distinctly their own.

    Having said all this, I doubt whether I would have enjoyed this book as much as I did now had I read it two or three years back…

  3. I'm really hesitant to read this. I have a feeling this book will not work for me either, so there's a chance i may not give this book a try. But I hope to try Kingsolver's other books.

  4. It's been a while since I read this one but I remember being disappointed by it. Some of the characters were interesting but it moved slow.

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