The first step to reading Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible is to overlook the opening line: “Imagine a ruin so strange it must never have happened.” (5) The book is better and more coherent after this line.
The Poisonwood Bible follows the Price family into the Congo where they’re sent as missionaries in 1959. Nathan Price, the patriarch, is stubborn and bullish, alternately neglectful and abusive toward his wife and four daughters. He represents the worst type of missionary and struggles to gain influence. With a monthly stipend, the Prices are comparatively wealthy, but the payments are stopped when the Americans and Belgians are evacuated from the Congo as it declares independence. Despite making few inroads with the Congolese, Nathan Price refuses to allow his family to leave. read more