By Barbara Kingsolver
© By Lisa Finch
Barbara Kingsolver’s compelling story of one family’s experience of deprivation, longing and tragedy is made all the more intriguing by its unique narrative style. The story, told by a mother (Orleanna Price) and her four daughters, tells of an unyielding Baptist minister, Nathan Price, who takes his family on his mission to the Congo in 1959.
Shrugging his duties as husband and father, he fervently clutches onto his self-proclaimed image as divine messenger of God and throws his family into a situation that tests them not only spiritually but physically. They barely survive the enormous environmental changes, but try to persevere.
But Nathan never changes. He tries to force his views on the Congolese, refusing to recognize that he is a foreigner. He romanticizes baptizing the villagers in the river – ignorant that it is infested by crocodiles.
Nathan is predictable, the story is not. The tragedy Orleanna alludes to from the beginning is only one of many surprises in store for the reader. Brilliantly written, Kingsolver’s masterful technique invites in-depth analysis. It is the kind of tale your thoughts return to again and again.
Published in “The Forest Standard”.
August 29, 2001.