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4.2 out of 5 stars400
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 10 February 2013
The beginning of this book was engaging and I was interested in the characters. But from one third through it became a bit of a polemic, and although I am a committed environmentalist, I became bored with the way the environmental issue took precedence over the characters, to the detriment of both. I felt as if I was being preached at.
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on 6 January 2013
Disappointing polemic without the redemptive storylines and humour and range of interasting characters of Prodigal Summer (which was one of my favourite books). Eve
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on 10 May 2013
I've got to admit that this book was a bit of a disappointment after The Poisonwood Bible, which I loved. In fact, the title itself is a little off-putting. It certainly doesn't grab you - Flight Behaviour. Something seems to be missing and this is the case with the book too. I ended up feeling short-changed. First of all, I thought the beginning was excellent and was excited at the prospect of Dellarobia's affair so I felt a little misled when that didn't materialise. I have a feeling that this young man would have been the most interesting character.

Then I gradually lost respect for and belief in the protagonist and don't feel she was realised very well. I would have liked to identify with her but too often, things are signposted in advance and she behaves in a weak or childish way, for instance when she first encounters Ovid Byron and talks to her friend Dovey about him. They sound like tittering teenagers. Then when he comes to the house and she and Cub talk up her expertise on the butterflies. You know that Byron is going to be the real specialist. It's too obvious. And it seems out of character to drag the reporter into Byron's lab without any warning.

The other thing I'd take issue with is the way she seems to first recognise how many toys her kids have in comparison to Josefina but then bleats on about having to shop in the dollar store or the new second-hand emporium. It seems she has no perspective. She resents people shopping there who she thinks could afford to shop elsewhere and pay full price and the implication is that, if she had the money, she would rather not economise. What's wrong with buying nearly new stuff at rock-bottom prices? I would love to find this store. She's not exactly hypocritical but inconsistent and full of self-pity, not particularly attractive traits.

I applaud her stand on the butterflies and have nothing against the message of the book. I only think that more time should have been spent on characterisation and dialogue. Her exchanges with Dovey don't ring true at all and Ovid is not well drawn enough to be convincing so ends up as merely a cipher, the scientist from somewhere exotic to Dellarobia.
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on 3 April 2013
I am a long-time fan of Barbara Kingsolver's work, so had high expectations for this new novel. For me, Flight Behaviour got off to a slightly disappointing start. I found the protaganist Dellarobia quite unlikeable and I wasn't able to get a very good sense of place and setting in the first few chapters. Maybe for those more familiar with American geography and culture it would be easier. However the descriptive writing was as beautiful as always for a Kingsolver novel, and the relationships and emotional life of the characters felt so real it was heartbreaking.

I did also find the narrative a bit preachy in places (both on climate change and poverty/inequality), and some of the dialogue was a little clunky in places for this reason. I think some of this could have been left for the reader to make his/her own deductions, rather than everything being spelled out laboriously.

Four stars as for all its flaws this was beautifully and skillfully written, and overall a thoroughly enjoyable read.
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on 8 April 2013
The author has a generous feel for human behaviour. The book looks at all the issues relating to climate change in a novel that revolves around people looking at their own situation and moving on. She looks at the effects of millions of butterflies changing their previous behaviour on a small farming community. The characters are well drawn and appealing. She understands their unwillingness to change and the urge to resist unwelcome scientific discovery.
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on 15 August 2014
I have always liked Barbara Kingsolver's writings and therefore came to this with high expectations, and was not disappointed. It is a story of relationships, and of the environment and is pulled together very well. The descriptions of how and why the butterflies choose their environment were most interesting and well done for the layman. The most unusual component of this book was that the heroine heard a view point of her behaviour from her mother in law that she had never considered and that made me think of how we view ourselves. The women's characters were very well done, the men featured less. The small twist at the end was very neat. And I liked how the butterflies were incorporated into the story; the flight behaviour is relevant both to the insects and the humans. Much enjoyed.
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on 28 August 2015
I can see the merits of this novel and friends have told me that if you carry on reading it to the end, it pays off - the characters develop, the story becomes more intriguing, etc. I'm sure it's just my personal taste and maybe because I went to Flight Behaviour after reading a novel by Murakami - a writer whose style is much more economical, sparse and lean - but I found this Barbara Kingsolver novel hard to get into. I read about as far as page 100 and gave up. Perhaps if it had been written in the first person (from the main character Dellarobia's POV) I'd have been able to care about Dellarobia and the other characters more. However it's written in the third person, and the authorial voice comes over too strongly, in my view. I found I was getting bogged down in detail. Kingsolver has a very good writing style but in this book it seemed uneven - lots of arresting images and analogies, but also a lot that didn't work. This author can't resist 'colouring in' the picture a lot, rather than letting the reader fill in the detail themselves. This spelling out tone also applies to the central message of the book, which is about the environment and climate change. It's a very worthy book, not preachy exactly but at times it was a little like listening to an episode of the Archers (a corny BBC radio drama soap set in a village) when they bring in an agricultural expert to deliver a message to the listener about some dire crop disease or other environmental concern. I'm sure this book will satisfy a lot of readers, but it might be a good idea to borrow a copy from a friend to try it rather than lashing out on buying a copy.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 February 2013
"Flight behaviour" is wordplay to cover both the distinctive orange monarch butterflies deflected from their usual migration patterns by the effects of climate change, and a Tennessee farmer's wife, symbolically also flame-haired, seeking to escape from the trap of her marriage to a kind but dull husband still ruled by his domineering parents.

Although her small daughter Cordelia has been nicknamed "Cordie", Dellarobia does not shorten her own distinctive name. An ill-judged attempt at adultery is averted when she is amazed by the sight of a lake of fire, which proves to be great clusters of butterflies clinging to tree trunks in the wooded slopes above her home. My interest was hooked when I realised that the incredible details of these insects and their life cycles are based on fact, the author being a trained biologist with a mission to inform us through fiction.

The arc of the overall story is strong, and Barbara Kingsolver explores some interesting themes, such as the varying attitudes to the butterflies when a team of scientists come to study them. The locals, for instance, tend to reject climate change because the popular media play it down, but the strongly religious community feels that the butterflies may have some special significance, even to the extent of questioning the right of Dellarobia's father-in-law to earn much-needed cash from felling the trees in which the butterflies have chosen to winter.

"The Poisonwood Bible" is a hard act for the author to follow, but I found "Flight Behaviour" hard-going, partly because it often gets bogged down in detail and long-windedness, crying out for a good edit. Although she is capable of sharp, funny dialogue, moving intimations of subtle human relationships and powerful descriptions, too often the prose grated on me - clunky and folksy in a way I had not expected, although I wondered whether it was intentional to convey a sense of a traditional "hillbilly" community, resistant to change. So, my four stars are for an original and thought-provoking storyline rather than the quality of the writing which often disappointed me.
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on 8 June 2013
I have read most of Barbara Kingsolver's books over the years and particularly enjoyed the earlier shorter ones. I found this one interesting, but overlong and needed some editing. For me the characters did not really work and in a book this size, it matters. I felt it was lazy in terms of its global change choice. And in the end did not care much what happened, even to Dellarobia. A bit too much like 'Educating Rita' and entirely predictable. The Lacuna was very much better and of course also long - and again I felt it needed tighter editing. Good authors also need confident and good editors!
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on 12 October 2013
It drags. Not her best work. One gets tired of the endless descriptions of the rain and the butterflies. So predictable.
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