29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Rich and ambitious but loses the plot,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Poisonwood Bible (Paperback)
This is certainly an ambitious novel and in many respects the ambition is realised. The novel provides a beautiful and fascinating insight into the mechanics, idealogies and horrors of life in a remote African jungle village. It also makes very clear the damaging influence of arrogant western cultures in communities and cultures that they barely understand. In a ploy reminiscent of 'The God of Small Things' (by Arundhati Roy) the extensive use of child narrators works wonderfully here to provide an innocence and childish enthusiasm that heightens the tragedy when it inevitably does arrive. The book also introduces us to some rich and memorable female characters - most notably the cynical, flawed, but ever-vigilant Adah. In contrast, the male characters are not nearly so well-developed.
Despite its many qualities, there is a problem with this novel. The final quarter of the book appends a prolonged, frustratingly pedestrian, epilogue to the climax of the first three-quarters. The bulk of the novel chronicles one intense year, but then Kingsolver decides to take us on through the next thirty years of the women's lives without, in my mind, any real justification. The historical and political points made so subtley and powerfully in the first part of the book become laboured and too often repeated in the second part. Sadly also, the characters do not seem to develop any more depth or any more insight in this 'epilogue' - in fact they become disappointingly one-dimensional.
Overall, I do recommend this book for its richness and its ambition but I wish the author had considered cutting it short. It made me wonder whether the unnecessary extension was due to the author wanting to make full use of her detailed research or whether the Publisher had suggested it with one eye on selling the rights for a TV mini-series.