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Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver
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Flight Behaviour (edition 2012)

by Barbara Kingsolver

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1,6121174,484 (3.93)191
Member:infosleuth
Title:Flight Behaviour
Authors:Barbara Kingsolver
Info:Faber and Faber (2012), Edition: Export - Airside ed., Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:All books read, Your library, Favorites
Rating:*****
Tags:American fiction, literary, butterflies, Appalachia, North Carolina, families, environment, climate

Work details

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

  1. 00
    The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver (rockyblanco)
    rockyblanco: Same author but a very different subject.
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» See also 191 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 117 (next | show all)
Barbara Kingsolver has included a number of plot threads in her novel Flight Behavior, about subjects she cares about, including the primary one - climate change. Flight Behavior is more than either a story to get lost in or a carefully researched non-fiction book, because it is both and, to use a cliché, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The plot threads include: someone living a life that is less than her potential, bigotry against country culture, and the way the world is affected by climate change. These subjects seem unrelated, but Kingsolver makes them work together.

The novel opens with Dellarobia Turnbow walking up a mountain to throw her marriage away on an affair with an attractive telephone lineman. But along the path she encounters something that changes her life, thousands of Monarch butterflies wintering in southern Appalachia. When news of this event spreads to the people of Feathertown, most of the residents take it to be a miracle sent from God. The word spreads further than that small town and soon a scientist named Ovid Byron shows up to study the butterflies. Dellarobia's relationship with that man and with the event that brought him to her changes her life.

Dellarobia lives with her husband, Cub, and their two children in a house on land belonging to her in-laws. Prior to the arrival of the butterflies her life consists of taking care of the kids and shopping at second hand shops and dollar stores. Early in the novel Dellarobia thinks she's been named after a hand crafted wreath, something she isn't proud of. But she discovers later on that della Robbia is the name of a fifteenth century sculptor. Dellarobia's name is a great metaphor for her life, how she is much more than she thought she was.

One of my favorite quotes from the novel comes from a conversation between Ovid and his wife, Juliette. They are speaking about Dellarobia's theory concerning the reasons why many country people doubt that climate change exists. Ovid says, “Climate change denial functions like folk art for some people, a way of defining survival in their own terms.” Juliette's reply is that she had always thought the attitude came from “Corporate mantras via conservative media.” There is probably truth in both points, but Ovid's is less simplistic and respects the people of Appalachia for having the ability to come up with their own ideas.

I love Barbara Kingsolver's writing and her activism. This book is one of her best.

Steve Lindahl - author of White Horse Regressions and Motherless Soul ( )
  SteveLindahl | Apr 9, 2014 |
Not my favorite Kingsolver...a good read, but not quite what I expected. ( )
  CharlaOppenlander | Apr 4, 2014 |
Not my favorite Kingsolver...a good read, but not quite what I expected. ( )
  CharlaOppenlander | Apr 4, 2014 |
I thought this book was good. She could have done without all the very intricate explanations because There were times it was not necessary but the plot was good as were the characters. Towards the end of the book the ending starts to become obvious. Actually in regards to one of the character relationships it is semi obvious from the start.
  Swade0710 | Mar 20, 2014 |
What can I say, I love Barbara Kingsolver books and I loved ths one :). ( )
  KarenHerndon | Mar 20, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 117 (next | show all)
Climate change, for every good and topical reason, headlines Barbara Kingsolver’s marvelous eighth novel. But not to be undersold are its characters, rendered so believably and affectionately, they warm the atmosphere on their own.
 
...... Kingsolver's masterly evocation of an age – ours, here, now – stumbling wilfully blind towards the abyss is an elegy not just for the endangered monarch butterfly, but for the ambitious, flawed species that conjured the mass extinction of which its loss is a part. Urgent issues demand important art. Flight Behaviour rises – with conscience and majesty – to the occasion of its time.
added by marq | editThe Guardian, Liz Jensen (Nov 2, 2012)
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barbara Kingsolverprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kingsolver, BarbaraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
For Virginia Henry Kingsolver and Wendell Roy Kingsolver
First words
A certain feeling comes from throwing your good life away, and it is one part rapture.
Quotations
Realistically, it probably wasn't slave children, but there had to be armies of factory workers making this slapdash stuff, underpaid people cranking out things for underpaid people to buy and use up, living their lives mostly to cancel each other out. A worldwide entrapment of bottom feeders.
If people played their channels right, they could be spared from disagreement for the length of their natural lives. Finally she got it. The need for so many channels.
There are always more questions. Science as a process is never complete. It is not a foot race, with a finish line. He warned her about this as a standard point of contention. People will always be waiting at a particular finish line: journalists with their cameras, impatient crowds eager to call the race, astounded to see the scientists approach, pass the mark, and keep running. It's a common misunderstanding, he said. They conclude there was no race. As long as we won't commit to knowing everything, the presumption is we know nothing.
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Book description
Flight Behavior transfixes from its opening scene, when a young woman's narrow experience of life is thrown wide with the force of a raging fire. In the lyrical language of her native Appalachia, Barbara Kingsolver bares the rich, tarnished humanity of her novel's inhabitants and unearths the modern complexities of rural existence. Characters and reader alike are quickly carried beyond familiar territory here, into the unsettled ground of science, faith, and everyday truces between reason and conviction.
Dellarobia Turnbow is a restless farm wife who gave up her own plans when she accidentally became pregnant at seventeen. Now, after a decade of domestic disharmony on a failing farm, she has settled for permanent disappointment but seeks momentary escape through an obsessive flirtation with a younger man. As she hikes up a mountain road behind her house to a secret tryst, she encounters a shocking sight: a silent, forested valley filled with what looks like a lake of fire. She can only understand it as a cautionary miracle, but it sparks a raft of other explanations from scientists, religious leaders, and the media. The bewildering emergency draws rural farmers into unexpected acquaintance with urbane journalists, opportunists, sightseers, and a striking biologist with his own stake in the outcome. As the community lines up to judge the woman and her miracle, Dellarobia confronts her family, her church, her town, and a larger world, in a flight toward truth that could undo all she has ever believed.
Flight Behavior takes on one of the most contentious subjects of our time: climate change. With a deft and versatile empathy Kingsolver dissects the motives that drive denial and belief in a precarious world.
Haiku summary
One of the best novels by one of the best novelists currently writing.

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(see all 2 descriptions)

Set in the present day in the rural community of Feathertown, Tennessee, Flight Behavior tells the story of Dellarobia Turnbow, a petite, razor-sharp 29-year-old who nurtured worldly ambitions before becoming pregnant and marrying at seventeen. Now, after more than a decade of tending to small children on a failing farm, oppressed by poverty, isolation and her husband's antagonistic family, she has mitigated her boredom by surrendering to an obsessive flirtation with a handsome younger man. In the opening scene, Dellarobia is headed for a secluded mountain cabin to meet this man and initiate what she expects will be a self-destructive affair. But the tryst never happens. Instead, she walks into something on the mountainside she cannot explain or understand: a forested valley filled with silent red fire that appears to her a miracle. After years lived entirely in the confines of one small house, Dellarobia finds her path suddenly opening out, chapter by chapter, into blunt and confrontational engagement with her family, her church, her town, her continent, and finally the world at large.--publisher.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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