Flight Behaviour

Flight Behaviour (2012) is the latest novel from Barbara Kingsolver (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_KingsolverĀ and http://www.kingsolver.com/), who grew up in eastern Kentucky. It is in running towards a rendezvous with a lover that the principal character, Dellarobia Turnbow, a farmerā€™s wife, encounters what looks like a hillside on fire. In fact it is the sight of clouds of orange monarch butterflies flaming the landscape. This revelation provides a means of escape from the dullness of her life and marriage on an Appalachian farm in Tennessee. The phenomenon is not supernatural or imaginary, though. Entomologist Ovid Byron explains that the butterflies have been diverted from their normal migratory patterns by climate change. Change, of all sorts including that of the climate, is the central theme of the novel. Are we really in serious danger of trashing our own nest? Kingsolver brings across an unsettling sense of the fragility of existence.

Complex, with many subsidiary themes such as class, poverty, survival and transformation this is a closely observed novel delivered in often beautiful and vivid prose. I found the characters did have the power to involve whilst the setting was brought clearly to mind. It is also a highly contemporary novel. If you have never tried a KingsolverĀ this is probably the best to get a measure of the authorā€™s style.

 

608 pages in Faber & Faber paperback edition

First published 1 Nov 2012

ISBN 978-0571290802

 

Barbara Kingsolver

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