Thursday, 30 May 2013
In the year 2000, I read "The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver.
I was mesmerized by the characters, the structure, the plot, the language and the themes.
I loved the four daughters and empathized with Orleanna when she said, "I had washed up there on the riptide of my husband's confidence and the undertow of my children's needs". It reminded me of "Gifts from the Sea" by Eleanor Morrow Lindbergh, when she talked about the complexities of a woman's life.
Orleanna was trying to support her husband in his personal mission, but she also was aware that there were four girls to protect and guide. In this case, it was not possible to do both. And she spent the remainder of her life with regret.
Perhaps because this book affected me so strongly, I read other books with a similar theme: "The Sea Captains Wife" by Beth Powning: "The Mosquito Coast" by Paul Theroux. Even "Above All Things" by Tanis Rideout has a mother who is attempting to keep her children connected to their father who is away from home for long periods of time.
Recently, I have been begging my friends to tell me their favourite book. Many cannot chose just one. I never have that problem. I read in "Tolsty and the Purple Chair" by Nina Sankovitch, that your favourite book tells a lot about you. Perhaps my friends are afraid that I will be analyzing them. But I have been analyzing myself and I realize that "Poisonwood Bible" taught me about arrogance. Nathan Price did not have a voice in the book, but you learned everything you need to know about him in the way his wife and children were affected by his actions and attitude. His 'mission' was not endorsed, but was a personal drive that had no concern for anyone else. He had no respect for anyone in the Congo - he even chopped down the wild orchids to plant his own 'demonstration garden'. This lack of respect and concern for others is my definition of arrogance. It was so pronounced in this book that I began to notice arrogance in places that I would not have before.
In 2002, we were exploring the state of Texas. I love to read all memorials and have not forgotten the civil war monument with quotes by Jefferson Davies.
"Eternal right / Though all things fail / Can never be made wrong".
"The impartial enlightened verdict of mankind will vindicate the rectitude of our conduct".
I felt that these statements were attempting to confirm that the decisions made by the south were right then and are right now. I see that as arrogance.
I really enjoy a novel that contains a variety of good and bad characters. I have read hundreds of books since I first read this novel, but the characters in "The Poisonwood Bible" are crystal clear in my mind.
Now when are my friends going to tell me their favourite book?