Customer Review

50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting, Informative and Involving Read, 29 Oct 2012
This review is from: Flight Behaviour (Hardcover)
Barbara Kingsolver, Pulitzer Prize finalist and winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction, has written a powerful message about the consequences of climate change with her latest novel 'Flight Behaviour'. Set in present day rural Appalachia, the novel's main protagonist is Dellarobia Turnbow, a young, bright and attractive mother of two small children who married when she fell pregnant at seventeen. Dellarobia feels stifled in her marriage to her husband, Cub, an unadventurous young man who works resignedly on his family's failing farm. Although Dellarobia loves her children, she considers being a stay-at-home mum the "loneliest kind of lonely, in which she was always and never by herself."

One autumn day, after a summer of heavy rains, Dellarobia throws caution to the wind and struggles up a slippery mountain track to secretly meet up in the woods with a young man she has developed an obsession for. But the meeting never takes place because before Dellarobia arrives at her destination, she sees what she initially believes to be a lake of fire with every tree blazing - but when there is no heat, she decides the bright orange glow must be some sort of vision or warning. Described by her mother-in-law as: "a 911 Christian; in the event of an emergency, call the Lord" Dellarobia is initially reluctant to share her vision, but when she discovers that her husband's family are selling the land to loggers to help keep the farm afloat, she encourages them to go up to the woods so they can see for themselves that something unusual is happening. Well, there is something very unusual happening, for fluttering amongst the trees are millions of orange Monarch butterflies which, we later learn, have been diverted from their usual destination of Mexico by the effects of pollution and climate change. (No spoilers here - we learn this early on in the novel).

At first the 'Bible-belt' Turnbows and their neighbours, encouraged by the town's pastor, see this as a miracle of sorts, some even viewing it as a lucrative tourist attraction; but when a research team arrives headed up by the attractive Ovid Byron, the dangers of climate change are really brought home - if not to all of the characters in the story, then certainly to the reader. When Byron notices Dellarobia and her natural intelligence and curiosity, she is hired to help with the project, throwing her into a confrontation with her family, her town, her church and, ultimately, the wider world.

Although I did not initially find Dellarobia an entirely appealing heroine, I did find her an interesting character: spirited, self-deprecating, with some cynical and amusing views on her husband's family and their neighbours and I felt her appeal grew as I watched her undergo a metamorphosis and a late coming of age during the course of the story. Barbara Kingsolver, a scientist before she was an author, writes convincingly and lucidly about the dangers of pollution and climate change, enabling the reader to easily absorb the worrying and frightening possibility of the collapse of the world's eco-system. I recently read an interview with the author where she stated that she didn't want to write a trivial novel, she doesn't tackle easy subjects, and she didn't want to waste the reader's time; well Barbara Kingsolver definitely hasn't tackled an easy subject here; it's not trivial, and she certainly hasn't wasted my time.

4 Stars.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 14 Nov 2012 12:12:56 GMT
Madzie says:
susie - please look up the word "review" in a dictionary! It does NOT mean 'tell most of the story'. I might have bought this book but having seen your 'review' ie retelling, I don't now need to. Thanks for nothing, MBF

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Nov 2012 20:17:14 GMT
Last edited by the author on 14 Nov 2012 20:18:17 GMT
Susie B says:
Madzie. The word review means to critically assess, to inspect or examine - which, I hope, is what I have achieved with my review. I certainly haven't retold the story and there is a lot more to this book than the four short paragraphs I have written - in fact you would discover more from reading a review in one of the broadsheet newspapers than you would from my review. However, I am sorry if you feel I have included too much information and have found it necessary to vote my review as unhelpful.
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