I have been in a book group for close to twenty years and this is probably one of our five favorite reads over that period. (Other contenders would be NICKEL AND DIMED, LEOPOLD'S GHOST, and LAB GIRL) It is 1959 and Nathan Price, a Baptist minister, takes his wife and four daughters to the Belgian Congo where he believes he can convert the heathens. He is from the fire and brimstone school of preachers and this does not serve him well with the local population. The family is ill-prepared for the climate. They also are ill-prepared for the unrest they will find as the Congo tries to pull away from Belgian's harsh colonial rule. The novel does a great job of showing the reader how this period played out. King Leopold of Belgian would give a certain president a run for the title of worst person who is not Adolf Hitler.
The first half of the novel documents the many vicissitudes found by the Prices and practiced on the local population by Nathan. It is written from all of their POVS, which gives a pretty full picture of how this affected each one of them. Nathan gives little thought to how this experience will affect his family, reminding me of the father in MOSQUITO COAST and the parents in AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY.
The second half of the novel details the lives of these seven people over the next thirty years. I have to say that half of the book is not as memorable or at least I don't remember it. It is hard to compete with the fiery Price. But a very good book all in all.