Food? not much and certainly not the right sort. Running water? none. Bath? Not unless you walk to the river with containers, walk them back and heat them up..... and that is only the start. The Betty Crocker cake mixes (four of them, brought for the celebration of each birthday of the daughters) set in the pack like concrete and everything, for them, appears to be a living hell. And Father? Nathan Price, a cruel man with mental health problems of his own, so quick to hurt physically as well as mentally his wife and all his girls, doles out punishment for all of them whilst preaching his gospel, trusting to the translator to pass the Word on correctly.
The book is told in parts, each with a biblical heading, and divided into chapters told in the voices of the daughters, about their lives at the time, whilst at the beginning of each part the mother looks backwards to her time in Africa.
I was shocked how little I knew about the departure of the Belgians from the Congo. Shocked at how much the US was involved in Patrice Lamumba's death. Stunned at how the Western world still regards Africa. Barbara Kingsolver is a wonderful author, and her research can't be beaten. This is a book worth reading. You can read it for the history. You can read it for the breakup of a family. You can read it to understand a bit more about political decisions and how they make a difference half a world away. What it isn't is a cute story, a love story (although there is one in there), a book with a happy ending (although for some that will come). There is horror and grief here in all kinds of ways, but it is so worth the read.