read_warbler (read_warbler) wrote,

Two short reviews

Real life has got me running around a bit at the moment but, hopefully, it's just a temporary thing and life will soon be back to normal. So I'll just talk briefly about the two books I've just finished, the first being The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.


I could just say, 'If you only ever read one book about Africa, read this one' and leave it at that. But I won't. *g* It took me three to four weeks to read this book. Not the book's fault, mine, for being so busy. I'd have preferred to read it a bit quicker than that but in fact it's a story to be savoured and maybe it's a good thing I took so long to read it. The story is about the Price family. Father, mother and four daughters. The father, Nathan, is an evangelical, southern Baptist, who takes his family off to The Belgian Congo on a religious mission. It's 1959 - close to the time of the country's independence from Belgium. The narrative is told from the pov of the mother and the four girls in turn, never the father. It's a tale of family relationships, ignorance, tragedy and, most of all, 'Africa'. It's also a tale of the effect *our* interference has had on African countries, specifically The Congo, and by that I mean European countries and the USA. If only half of what's implied here is true, our governments should be ashamed. A brilliant, brilliant book, and one that's certain to make it into my best book list at the end of the year.


Trollope the Traveller, edited by Graham Handley, has been my bedtime read for the last three or four weeks. Put simply, it includes selections of his travel writings from 1859 to the late 1870s and includes The USA and Canada, The West Indies, Australia and New Zealand, and South Africa. This is not a politically correct book. Trollope expresses opinions which, to our 21st. century sensibilities, might be a bit questionable. That didn't bother me, I'm always able to look at this kind of writing in the context of when it was written. It's also no bad thing to see how far we've come I think. Other than that the writings are sheer joy. Trollope writes with humour and honesty, not just about the big things - political situations and so on - but about the little things as well. In fact I think I found the small things more interesting - how he was put up in the Transvaal by some Boers who were kindness itself, but he couldn't sleep in the bed because it was so filthy; his little nit-picky Post Office observations that were serious to him but so funny to the reader. Fascinating stuff and I'm looking forward to starting The Warden now that I know a bit about the man himself.
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