The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I had to give it five stars even if I sort of wanted to give it four. Five for effort. Five for subject. Five for imagery, language, research, how it touched me emotionally, and shallowly enough - five for the gorgeous cover and binding.
But the structure bothered me. The different narrators - a tricky tool. The reader will almost inevitably prefer some to others, and then an inborn annoyance with the way the book plays out is formed. I eventually learned to appreciate the variety of perspectives it provided, but I also continued to feel annoyed whenever the narrator changed. Furthermore, I question the necessity. We get that Rachel is foolish and shallow. We get that Ruth May is naïve (though her age alone makes me wonder if underscoring this wasn't redundant). We get that Adah is weird, and we get that Leah is our troubled heroine. I think I preferred the mother's perspective, which of course makes it a shame that this only surfaced a handful of times throughout the book.
Also, even if I gradually got to accept the structure and the constantly shifting narrators, I felt that the author eventually got tired of it as well. Towards the end of the book, I wondered if I had reached the end maybe 50 times. Not because what still came wasn't interesting - it was, and this is why I wouldn't dare to suggest the book was under-edited since I believe any editor would have a tough time excluding any of the tails (and details) from the last 100 pages due to their relevance for the subject - but the main story seemed so closed, so finished. Over and over again I expected "The End", but all I got was "The next chapter". I wonder how wise this was, at the same time as I too - like the imaginary editor - couldn't say where to stop and what to cut.
In the end, these things bothered me enough to keep me from reading the book at top speed (though my gazillion years of finishing it also has to do with reasons unconnected to the book). They bothered me enough to make me focus slightly less on what you should focus on when finishing this book: the terrible, terrible historical facts that form the backdrop of the plot. But in the end they didn't bother me enough to take away that last star.
Five for making me want to give it five stars, despite reservations.
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