Monday, 2 February 2015

Poisonwood Bible

What an amazing week I have had!  After three fabulous days at Fern lodge in Orillia with the Drayton Theatre Travel Club, I came home to three days of book discussions.
On Thursday, I was discussing one of the Canada Reads books at a coffee shop.
On Friday I was discussing "Olive Kitteridge" at the library, and today- surprise!  Serendipity!
Out of the blue, a friend of my daughter asked to talk to me about "The Poisonwood Bible". 
I read this book in 2000, and it is the absolute best book that I have ever read!  My enthusiasm for it increases with time.  Nothing compares to it!
  A missionary family in the Congo is completely unprepared for African life: Nathan and Orleanna Price, Rachel (15), Leah and Adah (14) and Ruth May ( 5).
  The chapters are written in alternating voices of the children with a retrospective discourse by the mother at the beginning of each section. The father, Nathan, does not have a voice in the book.
  Nathan Price was arrogant and abusive and self-absorbed.  He  was on a 'mission' and would not be deterred.  He chopped down wild orchids and pulled out the native poisonwood tree to plant his demonstration garden.  This was symbolic of his lack of interest in African culture and African needs.
  This book is not derogatory to Christian mission, in my opinion, but a reminder that arrogance has no place there.

Orleanna Price: "I had washed up there on the riptide of my husband's confidence and the undertow of my children's needs".
"Riptide" and "undertow" are both strong currents in the water.
Isn't this a metaphor for the way many women spend their lives?  Torn between the desires of their husband and the needs of their children?
I have found this literary theme to be very fascinating.  Some of my favourite books have this theme:
"The Secret River" by Kate Grenville
"The Mosquito Coast" by Paul Theroux
"The Sea Captain's Wife" by Beth Powning

I greatly appreciated this opportunity to remember my great love for this novel.  The style of writing is delightful,  the characters are fascinating, the plot is riveting.
It is the best book that I have read in 15 years!

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