Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver: June 2013 book of the month
Barbara Kingsolver is a particularly fearless author. She tackles complex subjects with passion and vast knowledge; her books have consistently engaged with the cause and effect of human frailty, morality and politics of the world around us.
Her latest book, Flight Behaviour, tackles one of the most contentious and tricky contemporary issues: climate change. But because this is Kingsolver, the subject is explored with empathy, understanding and a richly observed, witty prose style that makes the theme come alive.
Dellarobia Turnbow, a young, inquisitive mother of two small children is living on her in-laws farm in rural, Bible-Belt Appalachia. A shotgun marriage to Cub, a sweet but unadventurous man from a fierce and god-fearing family, has left her dissatisfied and trapped, a stay-at-home mum who was the 'loneliest kind of lonely, in which she was always and never by herself.'
Everything changes on the autumn day that she sees a miracle on the mountain – a burning lake of fire that turns out to be millions of orange butterflies. The insects have been diverted from their usual journey to Mexico by the unpredictable weather that is also creating havoc on the failing farm. The media soon leaps on the story of 'Our Lady of the Butterflies', and scientists arrive to study the phenomenon, battling against the farmers who need to clear the land for their livelihood.
This novel is about the fragility of existence. Everything – the farm, the ecosystem, marriages, putting food in children's mouths - is in a state of flux, dangling precariously on the edge of survival. It is not a page-turner but a powerful, meaningful read that understands how difficult it can be to do the best for humanity when your own survival is at stake.
About Barbara Kingsolver
Barbara Kingsolver was born in 1955, and grew up in rural Kentucky. She is the author of 14 books, including the global bestseller The Poisonwood Bible, and Orange Prize winner The Lacuna. Her work has been translated into more than 20 languages. Before she made her living as a writer, Kingsolver earned degrees in biology and worked as a scientist. She has two daughters, and now lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia.
Book club discussion: Tuesday 25 June, 9-10pm
We are thrilled that Barbara will be answering questions about her writing career and all her novels, including Flight Behaviour, in an emailed Q&A. So please feel free to discuss the book here throughout the month, pop up your questions (about this book or any of her others) by Tue 18 June, and we will post the answers on the bookclub night, Tue 25 June, 9-10pm.
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