Sep 18 2014
The Poisonwood Bible is a book by one of my favorite authors. Barbara Kingsolver has written 14 books and I have read most of them. This one was a gift from my mother, and I admit that it didn’t hook me right away. The first few pages are excruciatingly slow and I picked it up and put it down several times. If it had been by any other author, I probably would have forgotten about it, but I kept going back to it and I finally made it past those first pages. From that point on I had a hard time putting it down.
Barbara Kingsolver writes both fiction and non-fiction. Her novels tend to be on the gritty, realistic side. The Poisonwood Bible is about a family that moves from Georgia to the Congo in the 1950’s so that the father can pursue his missionary work. It is narrated by the women of the family. Although all are white females, the experiences and perspectives of the mother and four daughters are varied and far reaching. Their dramatic story encompasses a range of issues from personal spirituality to global politics. The author did embed clear social and political messages in her story, which will undoubtedly turn off most readers not of like mind.
I like to pass books on to others, so my favorites are often not in my library. I gave this book away and have yet to replace it. We now have a number of formats in which to purchase texts, as well as a number of physical as well as virtual places to shop for them. Ultimately all this variety translates into a variety of prices. It is important to note that I want the actual book, not the ebook (available here at Amazon for $9.99) or the pdf (available here for free).
I would prefer to buy it new from an independent bookstore and support both the author and the smaller shops, however this will likely cost the most. Local options include Riverby Books and the Griffin Bookshop. I could not find The Poisonwood Bible on either’s website, however this online inventory for Riverby indicates they have another Kingsolver book, used softcover, for sale for $20.00. As much as I would like to support the smaller bookstores, it must be said that this is not a great deal. The most affordable option is usually to find it used online. A Google Shopping search for The Poisonwood Bible currently pulls up prices ranging from about $1.00 to $17.00. Typically, the used copies are cheaper and vice versa. A new copy from Barnes & Noble lands in between at $11.74. If I was on an extremely tight budget, I would go for the cheapest option [that includes positive customer reviews and a secure payment option]. If I was in a hurry, I would find a reasonably priced copy at a local chain store. Because I am on a budget but not in a hurry, I can look around for it at a used bookstore. I would hope to pay no more than $10.00 for a used softcover book, even at a small bookstore.
The electronic word of mouth (eWOM) can often be a response to the retailer as much as the item itself, so I looked at a variety of reviews. The reviews are mostly positive. On Barnes & Noble 700 ratings gave it 4.5/5 stars; on goodreads, just over 445,000 ratings averaged 3.98/5 stars. On every website, the majority of negative reviews criticize the book on political grounds.
An additional note of interest that I was not previously aware of, is the academic use of Barbara Kingsolver’s fiction. When I researched this book on the internet, I found that it has both Cliff Notes and sparknotes available.
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