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Cavedweller: A Novel by Dorothy Allison

Cavedweller: A Novel (edition 1999)

by Dorothy Allison

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95189,132 (3.67)27
Title:Cavedweller: A Novel
Authors:Dorothy Allison
Info:Plume (1999), Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:Your library

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Cavedweller by Dorothy Allison


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It was well written and it had wonderful character development. I tried very hard to fall in love with it, but it let me down. ( )
  AaronKappel | May 22, 2014 |
Delia Byrd Windsor escaped an abusive marriage by running off to California with a rock band, leaving her two young daughters back in Cayro, Georgia. The story begins ten years later, when her almost famous, not quite rich rock star partner is killed in a car crash. Delia is left with the product of their liaison, ten year old Cissy. Delia decides to return to Cayro, dragging along a kicking and screaming Cissy, to reunite with the children she left behind.

Ex-husband Clint agrees to return her daughters provided she will care for him as he is dying of cancer. Delia acquiesces. But her daughters, all three, are unenthused. The eldest, Amanda, prefers to act the martyr, holding a grudge against the mother who abandoned her. Second daughter, DeDe, is a wild child who has learned to push the envelope at every opportunity. Cissy, still indignant at having been thrust into a lifestyle she never wanted, pouts overtly. In addition, many of Cayro’s citizens (including her ex-mother-in-law) treat Delia like a pariah who doesn’t deserve a chance at redemption. Delia perseveres, building a small business; fixing up a house; reconciling with her daughters. By the end of the book the family seems to have achieved a tenuous normalcy.

Good writing, a cohesive story, and richly drawn characters elevate this book beyond a depressing soap opera. While the characters are not extraordinarily flawed, when their flaws are combined with incredibly poor life choices, the results are destructive to all. The consequences of Clint’s sadism, Delia’s flight, Delia’s substance abuse, Grandmother Windsor’s cold-heartedness, the girls’ attitudes – and so forth – have a dramatic impact on everybody else. Even the minor characters are relevant to the plot.

I enjoyed Cavedweller and recommend it to readers who like character driven books. ( )
  refice | Dec 7, 2012 |
Starts with alcoholic rock singer Delia, the mother of 3 daughters. The youngest daughter is dragged away from California back to Georgia after her rock singer father dies in a car crash. Delia is obsessed with regaining custody of her other two daughters who she abandoned when she left their violent father, who's now dying of cancer. Delia makes a deal to look after him in exchange for getting her daughters back. I'll stop there in order to not give away too much.

I like how thoroughly the author worked each of the very many characters. Initially, I wasn't that taken with the book, but glad I continued reading. ( )
  shesinplainview | Aug 19, 2012 |
Story of a woman, Delia, whose life in California falls apart when the father of her daughter dies in a car accident. She decides to pack up their life and return home to Georgia where she left a husband she never divorced and two other daughters. Delia has to comfort all the demons she left behind including an abusive husband, his unforgiving mother, and a whole town of people who thought she left her daughters to become a rock star. Delia leaves the life of luxury everyone thought she had as a beautiful singer, only for everyone she loves to slowly learn that life isn't always what they read in the magazines. Turned into a film, only the first third of the book is made into a movie, and even that it almost a story all on its own. You can almost watch the two and never even make the connection. ( )
  blondierocket | Jul 7, 2008 |
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For Wolf and Alix, my son and my beloved.
They have taught me all I know about healing the heart.
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Death changes everything.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0452279690, Paperback)

"Death changes everything." So begins Dorothy Allison's sprawling, ambitious, and deeply satisfying second novel, Cavedweller. For Delia Byrd, Randall Pritchard's death in a motorcycle accident launches a journey of several thousand miles and almost two decades, a rebirth of sorts that's also a return to her roots. Years before, the handsome but untrustworthy rock star Randall helped Delia flee an abusive husband; Delia escapes physical danger but leaves her two small children behind. In California, her abandoned daughters haunt her dreams and preoccupy her waking hours, even as she sings in Randall's band and gives birth to another daughter, Cissy. But when Randall is killed in a motorcycle accident, Delia packs rebellious Cissy into a broken-down Datsun, bound for Cayro, Georgia, and the one thing that suddenly matters more than anything else: her abandoned children and the chance to be a mother to them once again.

Cayro's poverty is emotional as well as material; the town is a hard place, full of hard people. To them, Delia will always be "that bitch" who abandoned her babies, "that hippie" living a life of sin. Nonetheless, Delia forges a cruel bargain with her former husband: in exchange for Delia's agreeing to care for him as he dies, he gives her a chance to reclaim her daughters. Like Bastard out of Carolina, Allison's acclaimed debut novel, Cavedweller is a chronicle of rage, strength, and survival. Here, however, Allison is equally concerned with the redemptive power of love and forgiveness, and a novel that began with death ends on an unexpectedly sanguine note: "'Yes, it's time for some new songs.'" There are no victims in Dorothy Allison's work; Delia triumphs through sheer force of will, bringing her family together despite the contempt of almost everyone around her.

The novel has its flaws--including occasionally flat-footed prose--but it is in the end compulsively readable, and it's populated by some of the most memorable characters in recent fiction: tough, prickly, flawed, and deeply human, Delia and Cissy are literary creations of the first rank. In describing the complicated emotions that bind and divide them, Allison demonstrates a profoundly unsentimental understanding of the way the human heart works. Cavedweller is the work of a mature artist, her best fiction to date.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:03:58 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A Georgia woman who abandoned her family to become a singer in California, returns 10 years later. It happens after Delia Byrd's new man dies in an accident, leaving her with a child. The novel describes the family's adjustment, including that of her teen daughters. By the author of Bastard Out of Carolina.… (more)

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