Sometimes skimming is all I need to refresh my memory on a book I've read. Kingsolver is such an engaging writer, however, that I simply could not skim. I was immediately caught up in the story and read all 543 pages. It starts in 1959, at the brink of momentous changes about to take place in the Belgian Congo. After the immediacy of the girls' accounts of their experiences during their first year in the village of Kilanga, a larger view of political and economic upheaval is brought into perspective in the latter part of the book (the part that I had remembered as being rather slow) when the daughters continue to take turns, but their telling skips forward in big chunks of time. I found myself really appreciating Kingsolver's insights into the complicated current history of this part of Africa.
If you haven't yet read The Poisonwood Bible, it's an epic family saga with memorable characters involved in an astonishingly foolhardy adventure not of their choosing. Highly recommended for rereading, too!