Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Poisonwood Bible

I picked up Wild Swans from hillary clinton's bookshelf on the oprah website and i loved it. This made me go back to her bookshelf and pick up aother books that she had enjoyed reading.. the books that she picked had a political element to it but that was not the major factor...the politics merged with the story lines soo beautifully that you dont even notice it.. the next name that caught my attention in her bookshelf was this book ..The Poinsonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.. It is a very unique book.. esp in the style of narration.
The story is basically about an evangelist baptist who takes his wife and four girls to congo in the 1960s..This is as a part of the missionary work. They have a one year "contract" and they all move to the wild forests of congo not really knowing what they are getting into.. Living in the forests among native africans to induce a beleif in some one called Jesus Christ and make them move from their beleifs and embrace this new faith is surely not an easy job..
And to add to all this, there is the political element.. this is the time when Congo is getting its independence and there is a lot of internal conflict.. the baptist is asked to leave congo and get back to america coz the missionary cant find a replacement..but being dedicated to the cause, he decides to stay on in congo with his family( much against their wishes) and their lives change drastically..
The naivete of the family and their total lack of foreseeing of the conditions in africa is depicted nicely when the mother packs betty crocker cake mixes to bake cakes for the girls during their birthday..its a total shock when they see the shack that they had to live in.. let alone a oven, they didnt have a sotve/refrigerator..stuff that they had always taken for granted in the US..
The best of the novel, however, is not the story.. its the way the story has been narrated..
there is not one narrator..but 5! each chapter is by one of the four girls and a few chapters by the mom herself.. so we get to see the whole scenario from four different perspectives..
its a beautifuly written book...

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