Wow! I hardly have the words to describe how amazing The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver, is. I first heard about it when I read The Newport Ladie's Book Club. This was the first book the ladies in the book club read, so I decided to read it, too. Well, actually, I listened to it on tape and was immediately drawn in by the voices of the characters and by the setting and story.
The story is about a missionary family in the Congo in the 1960s. Of course I loved the setting since I've set my YA fantasy novel, Kala's Curse, in an imaginary place patterned after the Kongo Kingdom. The writing is exquisite; the metaphors the author uses make the descriptions come alive (and I love reading and writing poetic prose). I'm in awe. I feel like nothing I've been reading or writing lately (and I've read some great books) can even come close to comparing to the masterful writing and depth of this tragic tale, except maybe The Book Thief.
The story is told from the first person POVs of the mother and her four daughters. After a short time I could distinguish the characters' POVs simply by how they spoke, thought, or acted. Yes, the characterization was that good. Each person had their own unique character tag. For instance, one daughter with hemiplegia always began by thinking of a sentence forward and then backward. Another daughter consistently used the wrong words that sounded similar to the right word but had a completely different meaning, eg . . . contractions in place of contraptions.
I can't say enough about this book. I found myself laughing out loud at times and crying later on as I listened to the tale unfold. There aren't many books or movies that can draw me in that emotionally. The Poisonwood Bible was selected for Oprah's Book Club in 1999. The book won the 2000 Boeke Prize and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1999.
Here's a blurb about the book from Amazon.com:
In 1959, Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist, takes his four young daughters, his wife, and his mission to the Belgian Congo -- a place, he is sure, where he can save needy souls. But the seeds they plant bloom in tragic ways within this complex culture. Set against one of the most dramatic political events of the twentieth century -- the Congo's fight for independence from Belgium and its devastating consequences -- here is New York Times-bestselling author Barbara Kingslover's beautiful, heartbreaking, and unforgettable epic that chronicles the disintegration of family and a nation.