I usually read non-fiction – much of it about sustainability and climate change. I heard the author in an interview discussing the fact that many people who are climate-change-deniers can’t be persuaded by facts and science. She believed that by incorporating the message into a story there was a greater chance of convincing people of the reality. I read this book because I was curious to see how effective this strategy would be.
The protagonist is a young woman, Dellarobia, trapped in a bleak marriage and a life of poverty, both material and intellectual, in Appalachia. She discovers a miracle of nature – masses of Monarch butterflies in the woods on her farm. These are butterflies that should normally be wintering in Mexico. This specific premise is fictional but is a plausible result of climate change.
Much of the novel describes the dreary tedium of Dellarobia’s daily life. Interwoven, is the story of how the news of the butterflies gradually spreads, eventually attracting a famous scientist who specializes in studying the Monarch butterflies and the effects of climate change. Dellarobia works with the scientist and his team, learning about the reality of climate change, and experiencing the excitement of her broadening world.
The book is well written but it felt to me rather contrived – that it was simply a vehicle for describing climate change and its effects and explaining the social and cultural reasons for people in areas such as rural Appalachia not accepting these facts. These aspects form only a relatively small portion of the book. The primary story is about Dellarobia and her awakening and growth.
How successful is the author likely to be in achieving the goal of educating those who still deny the science? My guess is not very. If any of these people read such a book, they would likely regard it all as part of a fictional story. It is, however, worth the try – even if it results in only a few converts.
I am finding it difficult to rate this book, possibly because I so seldom read novels. It is a nice story of a young woman who is brighter than those around her and whose intellect is gradually stimulated and freed. There is not a lot of action; many would find it slow-moving, especially in the first hundred pages. I will give it 3 stars.
Everything you ever wanted to know about butterflies! .Set in Southern Appalachia, a wife and mother's life is turned upside down when a swath of Monarch butterflies nests in her family's mountain. This has never happened before, and leaves people seeking various explanations from religion and science. The book seems to lose its ooomph after a particular event in the novel.
Requesting to check out for 1st Tuesday book group for November 22nd
Everyone lives their everyday lives in family and community until the butterflies arrive, bring scientists and compel the folks to reconcile science, God and nature. I liked the main character who discovers she is out of her element in her home like the butterflies on the Southern hillside.
Exquisite language, compelling story. Grabbed me from the first sentence.
It has been awhile since I read a Kingsolver. Very interesting book discussing personal growth as well as climate change and species at risk without being 'preachy' about it all. Characters are interesting, absorbing and easily identified with. A compelling read, as well as providing some general information.
Barbara Kingsolver can do no wrong. Her books are consistently great and her characters consistently compelling. Each time I read one of her novels I feel that my world is opened and my life is altered. Flight Behavior is an excellent example of her capacity to write about themes/issues that are dark, frightening, disturbing (and important!), but always leave the reader with a sense of hope.
This is not a book for those who prefer their fiction to be heavy on plot and action, but it’s likely to be a treat for readers who enjoy beautiful language, rich characterization, and pitch-perfect observations about everything from marriage and parenthood to social class and battles related to climate change.
I liked this book - didn't love it. If written by another author it would have been great, but for Ms Kingsolver it was only 'good'. The arrival of the butterflies heralds a change - for individuals, the community, scientists, the environment . . .
Alas, the characters seem too predictable and the story struggled.
I was disappointed with this one. It is beautifully written and undoubtedly a clever take on the themes of environmentalism and global warming but the woman was a very self-centred character and the preaching and barrow-pushing were intrusive. Poisonwood Bible it was not.
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