Summertime is here, and we think it’s the perfect time to dive into the Blood:Water Book Club’s first novel. Throughout June and July, we’ll be reading “The Poisonwood Bible,” by Barbara Kingsolver.
“The Poisonwood Bible” is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it—from garden seeds to Scripture—is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.
The novel is set against one of the most dramatic political chronicles of the twentieth century: the Congo’s fight for independence from Belgium, the murder of its first elected prime minister, the CIA coup to install his replacement, and the insidious progress of a world economic order that robs the fledgling African nation of its autonomy. Against this backdrop, Orleanna Price reconstructs the story of her evangelist husband’s part in the Western assault on Africa, a tale indelibly darkened by her own losses and unanswerable questions about her culpability. Also narrating the story, by turns, are her four daughters—the self-centered, teenaged Rachel; shrewd adolescent twins Leah and Adah; and Ruth May, a prescient 5-year-old. These sharply observant girls, who arrive in the Congo with racial preconceptions forged in 1950s Georgia, will be marked in surprisingly different ways by their father’s intractable mission, and by Africa itself. Ultimately each must strike her own separate path to salvation. Their passionately intertwined stories become a compelling exploration of moral risk and personal responsibility.
Read along with us, then check back each Tuesday through the end of July for a new staff reflection
Section 1: Book One (June 14)
Section 2: Book Two (June 21)
Section 3: Book Three through Rachel’s first section (June 28)
Section 4: Adah’s third section to the end of Book Three (July 5)
Section 5: Book Four (July 12)
Section 6: Book Five through Rachel’s, “The Equatorial: January 1978” (July 19)
Section 7: Leah’s, “Kinshasa: Rainy Season, 1981” to the end of Book Seven (July 26)