Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres to read. I love the way that history can be used to tell a story, and see how that history impacts the lives of characters.
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver does just that, with revolution and the Congo’s eventual independence from Belgium playing a key plot role. The story revolves around the Price Family, comprised of Nathan Price, the father and a missionary, Orleanna, his wife, and their four daughters.
Nathan decides to move his family from Georgia to the Congo for his missionary work, which he left for in 1959, right before the violence begins. The Price family arrives in the village of Kilanga and struggle to adapt to the challenges of their new environment. As Leah says, “We’ve all ended up giving up body and soul to Africa, one way or another.”
The story is told through alternating perspectives of each daughter, whose distinct personalities shine. My favorite character is Leah, who is fiercely independent.
The Poisonwood Bible is a highly enjoyable read. Although the book’s length may appear intimidating, it is definitely worth the effort. Set in an unfamiliar place, the story contains many relatable elements, including first love and family issues.