Host An Unforgettable Book Club Party

Ideas for Book Selection, Decorations, Attire, Music, Food,
and Much More!

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The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver



The tyrannical Nathan Price, a World War II veteran and evangelical Baptist missionary, takes his family into the Belgian Congo in 1959 to run a mission in the small village of Kilanga. Nathan and his family are ill-prepared for dealing with the indigenous culture, and are caught in the political firestorm of an African nation seeking independence from white rule.

The tyrannical Nathan Price, a World War II veteran and evangelical Baptist missionary, takes his family into the Belgian Congo in 1959 to run a mission in the small village of Kilanga.  Nathan and his family are ill-prepared for dealing with the indigenous culture, and are caught in the political firestorm of an African nation seeking independence from white rule. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver spans thirty years and is told through the eyes of five narrators — Nathan’s wife, Orleanna and their daughters, Rachel, twins Leah and Adah, and Ruth May.

Book Club Party Ideas for The Poisonwood Bible

Decorations

Include in your book club decorations some of the provisions Orleanna Price felt were needed — “the bare minimum, for my children” — for their ill-fated journey to Africa, such as a Betty Crocker cake mix, and deviled ham (more items on page 13), some of the fruit that grows naturally in the surrounding forest such as pineapples, bananas, and plantains, and Ruth May’s Monkey-Sock-Monkey that went missing when Ruth May left it outside on the porch.

Monkey Sock Monkey

Also, be sure to include swatches of material representing the beautiful colors and geometric patterns of the multi-purpose pagne worn and utilized by Congolese women. Or, better yet, encourage your guests to come attired in their own version of the pagne.

Wear a Pagne

Music

The Kilanga villagers had their own unique interpretation of the traditional Christian hymns of “Onward Christian Soldier” and “What a Friend I have in Jesus” (page 24) which “made [Rachel's] skin crawl”.  Rachel was young and unprepared for the cultural differences she encountered in Africa, but a book club party celebrates those differences.  Listen to the music of Laurnet Aimard in African Rhythms.

 


Book Club Menu for The Poisonwood Bible

Prepare a Congolese meal for The Poisonwood Biblebook club party.  Congolese meals often consist of a starchy staple, called fufu, along with vegetables and a stewed meat.  Groundnuts (peanuts) are an important ingredient in the Congolese sauces.   Here is what I came up with for my party plan.

African Peanut Butter Chickenwith Corn Fufu served with …

African-Inspired Peanut Butter Chicken

Pili-Pili Sauce (translates to pepper-pepper — hot and tangy) and Fried Plantains.

Pili-Pili Sauce

Desserts in the Congo are simple and among the most popular is a fruit medley, such as this Central African Fruit Salad.  This fruit salad has an interesting inclusion of avocado, peanuts, and fresh mint.  Simply delicious.

African Fruit Salad


Book Club Resources

Ratings at the time this post was published

Goodreads: 3.87 stars (168,250 ratings)
Amazon: 4.1 stars (1,535 ratings)
Barnes & Noble: 4.3 stars (532 ratings)
My Rating: 4 stars  I found the separate narratives and the perspectives they provided very effective.  I especially loved the voice of Adah.

Discussion Questions for the Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

  1. Discuss the cultural differences between the Congolese villagers and the Price family.  What different levels of understanding did the Price women come to obtain?  What about Nathan?
  2. Each of the five narrative voices gives a unique perspective.  Which narrative voice was your favorite and why?
  3. What does the title “The Poisonwood Bible” signify?
  4. Compare Brother Fowles’ role as missionary and views on religion to that of Nathan Price.
  5. Describe the significance of Nathan Price’s first sermon to the Congolese villagers after their warm welcome and feast?
  6. Does Methuselah the parrot have any particular significance in this novel?  Why or why not?

Purchase The Poisonwood Bible at your favorite bookseller

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The Author

Kentucky native, Barbara Kingsolver, was born in 1955 and holds degrees in Biologoy from DePauw University and the University of Arizona.

“Kingsolver was named one the most important writers of the 20th Century by Writers Digest. Critical acclaim for her books includes multiple awards from the American Booksellers Association and the American Library Association, among many others. The Poisonwood Bible was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the Orange Prize, and won the national book award of South Africa, before being named an Oprah Book Club selection.”  From www.kingsolver.com

Other Works by Barbara Kingsolver

 


Favorite Quotes from The Poisonwood Bible

Silence has many advantages. When you do not speak, other people presume you to be deaf or feeble-minded and promptly make a show of their own limitations. (page 34)

The sting of a fly, the Congolese say, can launch the end of the world. How simply things begin. (page 317)

Everything you’re sure is right can be wrong in another place.  Especially here. (page 505)

 



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