the Little Red Reviewer

Something completely different: Barbara Kingsolver

Posted on: October 11, 2010

If you’re a follower of this blog, you know I mostly review fantasy, scifi, and other weird stuff.    

Let’s do something completely different today.

Barbara Kingsolver’s books have been described as chick lit, contemporary lit, environmental, feminist, and historical fiction. I like to call them just damn good.  Of her more than a dozen novels and nonfiction, I’ve only read three, but I’ve liked everything I’ve picked up by her – Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees, and Animal Vegetable Miracle

and thanks to Fyrefly over at Fyrefly’s Book Blog (go visit her!), now I have a copy of The Lacuna as well.

As much as I enjoy a rip roaring crazy fantastical adventure, sometimes it’s really nice to sit back and enjoy a novel that feels like a never ending mug of hot chocolate.

If you’ve never read Kingsolver, she has two drastically different books that I can’t recommend enough:

The Poisonwood Bible – Told through the eyes of the four daughters of a missionary Preacher, the family is in The Congo in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  The girls, Rachel, Leah, Adah and and Ruth May range from ages five to to 15, and experience their overzealous father, new surroundings, and the political turmoil of the area in very different ways.   The girls adapt pretty quickly, and their father, well, doesn’t.   He might be an outspoken preacher, but it’s the women in this story who are forced to adapt, forced to change, and choose to be courageous.  Two wonderful write ups can be found here, and here

Animal Vegetable Mineral  (non fiction) –  This is an account of Kingsolver and her family (husband and two daughters) and their move from the American southwest to family propery in rural Virginia. The family had a mission: Could they survive for one year on foods they grew themselves or foods purchased locally?  They till their farm, aquire some chickens and turkeys, meet the locals, can up a storm, and generally have a blast.   I do enjoy all those documentaries on the evils of corporate farming,  but the message of “eat local or die!” often comes off as unnecisarily preachy. This isn’t one of those preachy “eat local” stories. It’s just about a family, and a farm, and learning what works and what doesn’t.   And the scenes with the turkeys are absolutely hilarious. If you’ve read it, you know what I’m talking about.   There are maybe a dozen farm and family friendly recipes scattered throughout, and the corn pudding has become a standard at my Thanksgiving table.  Check our Fyrefly’s great write up here.

8 Responses to "Something completely different: Barbara Kingsolver"

The Poisonwood Bible is incredible, isn’t it? I didn’t know what to expect and it really surprised me. It’s probably one of my favourite books this year. I’ve got The Lacuna but haven’t had a chance to read it yet. And I’ve heard that Prodigal Summer is very good too. Thanks for the link!


I tried to read the Poisonwood Bible years ago and couldn’t get into it. I did love Animal, Vegetable, Miracle though. I’ve seen so many positive reviews of Lacuna, that I’m thinking about picking it up.


I absolutely must read Animal Vegetable Mineral. I’ve been searching for it at the last few library sales I went to but no copies… everyone must not want to part with theirs. Perhaps I’ve have to go to a real bookstore!

I read Fyrefly’s review when she posted it and yeah, great write up. I love the farmer’s markets and my own garden is still producing veggies this late in the year.


I got a lot out of ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE, but I couldn’t quite manage to click with THE POISONWOOD BIBLE when I tried to read it several years ago. I’ll have to try again one of these days.


While I’ve heard of both of these books I didn’t realize that they were written by the same author. I’ve been wanting to read Animal Vegetable Mineral for a while but now I’ll add The Poisonwood Bible to my list as well


I LOVE Barbara Kingsolver, and one of the things I love about her books is that each one is really different. I haven’t read Animal Vegetable yet, it sounds like I should try it. My favorite of hers is Animal Dreams, an old one, and also The Bean Trees. Enjoy!


I’ve lent out my copy of Poisonwood Bible to handful of folks, who like LINDA and MEMORY just couldn’t get into it. The way it starts out, you have no idea what it’s going to be, the family is very religious, the wife appears very submissive. . . and then everything kind of changes.

I recently picked up a copy of Animal Dreams, need to make time to read it!


Thanks for visiting my blog. I’ve read Poisonwoood Bible and absolutely LOVED it. I’m listening to Lacuna right now (about 3/4 way through.) I’m so enjoying this audiobook. I don’t think I would EVER have stuck out the printed version of this book. The audiobook is read by the author. At first. I thought I might not be able to STAND her voice — but I’m in love with it now. If you start listening, you’ll know what I mean. I HIGHLY recommend the audio version if you do that at all. It’s been a wonderful experience. Enjoyed reading your reviews.


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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