Flight Behaviour – Barbara Kingsolver

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Flight Behaviour – Barbara Kingsolver

Post by Graham on Mon Oct 08, 2018 6:02 pm

I read a slew of Kingsolver’s novels a few years ago and each one left me content and uplifted. She had a knack of combining the personal and the universal that made me feel for a short time that the world was a better place.

This one concerns the acrimonious marriage of Dellarobia and Cub Turnbow. Hastily wed in their teens they now scrape a living on land belonging to Bear and Hester, Cub’s parents. In the forest above the farm Dellarobia discovers a phenomenon she cannot comprehend. Monarch butterflies have descended in their millions to roost thousands of miles from their natural habitat.

Kingsolver is best on women, possibly why this was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2013 but the entire cast of characters is fully formed. Into this life of sheep-shearing and hand-me-downs comes the exotic Dr Ovid Byron to study the aberrant butterflies. His presence stirs in Dellarobia not just lust but also a longing for the education and life she could have had.

It is not just a heart-tearing story of the toils and tribulations of farming families and the secrets that are tearing at their relationships but at the same time it is an acute analysis of the denial in ordinary minds that will not see the truth that science displays, but one with compassion for everyone. In the end the environmental message though clear and present is softened by the emotional denouement to make this another erudite and satisfying Kingsolver novel.

Graham
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