With her talent for words and language, Kingsolver writes each perspective with a distinct tone that draws you in to that narrator’s particular experiences and thoughts. Although each character is very different and reacts differently to living in Africa, each one in her own way faces the big questions about life – what is this world? what does it mean to be living in it? what is my place specifically in it? Like in the other two books I have read by her (The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven), Kingsolver takes life itself as her subject, but this time on a much grander scale. Her writing is at once appropriate to the character currently narrating and beautiful and eloquent:
As long as I kept moving, my grief streamed out behind me like a swimmer’s long hair in water. I knew the weight was there but it didn’t touch me. Only when I stopped did the slick, dark stuff of it come floating around my face, catching my arms and throat till I began to drown. So I just didn’t stop.
The arrogance of the able-bodied is staggering. Yes, maybe we’d like to be able to get places quickly, and carry things in both hands, but only because we have to keep up with the rest of you… We would rather be just like us, and have that be all right.
Diplomatic service or not, a man who leaves his wife for his mistress is no catch, I was sorry to find out. Well, live and learn. Like they always say, the rear-view mirror is twenty-twenty.
If only a river could go uncrossed, and whatever lay on the other side could live as it pleased, unwitnessed and unchanged.
The Poisonwood Bible is an incredible book, but it was not easy to read. Initially, it actually did not keep my interest that well. It is very different from the other books I had read by Kingsolver (in fact, I’m not sure I would have guessed it was the same author if I didn’t know it was), and it was hard to adjust to the tone and the narrator switches. There is not much action at the beginning and I had no idea where the story was going. Once I progressed a little ways in, however, it became difficult to put down (although still difficult to read, in the sense that it was intense and emotionally wrenching). I highly recommend The Poisonwood Bible, but do not be put off if you find the beginning slightly boring or difficult to follow!