Character-driven, based on real life

THE POISONWOOD BIBLE <br> <b> Barbara KingsolverTHE POISONWOOD BIBLE (1998)
Barbara Kingsolver

Culture shock, religious hypocrisy and the triumph of women in adverse circumstances are key to this character-driven novel, based on real experiences including the author's own.

Set in the Congo, The Poisonwood Bible is narrated by the wife and four daughters of a baptist missionary who moves the Georgia family to central Africa in 1959.

Through the eyes of the five women, the missionary cause in all its glory and impracticality is explained in contrast to the traditional Congolese way of life.

A community reluctant to change cements the family's challenge, as each member struggles to adapt.

Simple errors in translation underpin the difficulty of the task, which is largely abandoned by the more rational female members of the family - determined to make the best of their situation.

Each approaches the Congo differently due to their age and individual personalities, although Kingsolver makes it easy for the reader to understand and sympathise in some way with all five narratives.

She is renowned for building strong characters and The Poisonwood Bible is perhaps the best example of that.

Born in Maryland, Kingsolver moved from rural Kentucky to the Congo at the age of 7, where her physician father and mother worked in a public health capacity.

The family lived without electricity or running water.

Accordingly, The Poisonwood Bible accurately depicts the mood and development of the country around that time in history.

Well worth a read, the novel is one of only a few I can return to time and again.