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Flight Behaviour

Barbara Kingsolver    
Format: Paperback - C format
Pages: 448

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Flight Behaviour

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From the Orange Prize-winning author of The Lacuna comes a suspenseful and brilliant new novel about catastrophe and denial.

Description

Discontented with her life of poverty on a failing farm in the Eastern United States, Dellarobia, a young mother, impulsively seeks out an affair. Instead, on the Appalachian mountains above her farm, she discovers something much more profoundly life-changing - a beautiful and terrible marvel of nature. As the world around her is suddenly transformed by a seeming miracle, can the old certainties they have lived by for centuries remain unchallenged?

Flight Behaviour is a captivating, topical and deeply human novel touching on class, poverty and climate change. It is Barbara Kingsolver's most accessible novel yet, and explores the truths we live by, and the complexities that lie behind them.


Barbara Kingsolver's thirteen books of fiction, poetry and non-fiction include the novels The Bean Trees and the international bestseller The Poisonwood Bible which, amongst other accolades, won the 2005 Penguin/Orange Reading Group Book of the Year award. Her most recent novel The Lacuna, won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2010.

ISBN: 9780571290789
Australian Pub.: November 2012
Publisher: Faber
Imprint: Faber Fiction
Subject: Literary fiction
Edition Number:

Listen to Barbara Kingsolver discussing Flight Behaviour on ABC Radio National

Read an interview with Barbara Kingsolver in the UK Telegraph

Read the Guardian review of Flight Behaviour

Read the Independent review of Flight Behaviour

Reader reviews

'Flight Behaviour takes us to fairly uneasy country for Australians - the Appalachian Mountains of rural Tennessee with their poverty and revivalist religion. However, Barbara Kingsolver gives us a sympathetic guide in Dellarobia, a young woman who is isolated on a struggling farm with young children and a debt to the bank. Climate change brings an amazing and unexpected beauty to her mountains, which at the same time are threatened with logging to keep the families afloat financially. This event pries open Dellarobia's life as she awakens and evolves to meet the challenge.

'Dellarobia's intimate story contains the bigger frightening story of climate change and all that revolves around this debate, but the focus is on the characters. Barbara Kingsolver has a keen sense of human interaction and a very pithy sense of humour; her observations are economical and often give a start of surprise. She moves the story along skillfully, without resorting to blow-by-blow thoughts, but makes very penetrating insights into Dellarobia's internal life which apply to many of us. This book can be read on diverse levels and occupies your thoughts long after you have closed the cover. It is fluidly written and a joy to read.' - J. Collin, NSW

'Flight Behaviour is the 5th stand-alone novel by Barbara Kingsolver. In the Appalachian Mountains above her home, eastern Tennessee farm wife and mother of two, Dellarobia Turnbow is about to take a step that will change her unsatisfactory life forever when she is arrested by a vision of something she has never before encountered. What seems like a miracle is, however, threatened by her father-in-law's decision to allow the mountain to be clear-felled by a logging company. Those who start reading and think this is the formulaic righteous woman plus scientist battling against hick farmers and loggers to save endangered species will need to think again! Of all the things I predicted about this novel at the beginning, the only one I got right was that it is very, very good. I was assured of that in just the first few pages by prose like "How they admired their own steadfast lives. Right up to the day when hope in all its versions went out of stock, including the crummy discount brands, and the heart had just one instruction left: run." and "Whoever was in charge of the weather had put a recall on blue and nailed up this mess of dirty-white sky like a lousy sheet-rock job." I also loved "His moustache made two curved lines around the sides of his mouth like parentheses, as if everything he might say would be very quiet, and incidental."

'This novel has a plot that didn't go where I expected; the characters, too, surprised me when I thought I had their measure. Kingsolver skilfully conveys the desperation of poverty in everyday life and its effect on education, life choices and what people come to believe. She also highlights the importance of the manner in which scientists convey their message to the general public. This novel had me laughing out loud (especially at Dovey's church marquee sayings), choking up, giving a cheer (for Facebook of all things!), moved to caring about the fate of certain insects and thinking about many things: climate change, poverty, the decline of craftsmanship in the face of mass production, the cost of research, the disposable society and the increasing waste of goods. Kingsolver manages to make a huge amount of information about lepidoptery, sheep farming and lambing, global warming and the environment, easy to assimilate by incorporating it into this wonderfully uplifting tale. Her passion for the environment and our role in climate change is apparent in every paragraph. A brilliant, thought-provoking read, probably her best yet!' - M. Vincent, NSW

'As expected, I loved Barbara Kingsolver's latest book Flight Behaviour, but even more than than just loving it, it reminded me that seeing the butterflies overwintering in Mexico has always been on my bucket list! The descriptions are just so vivid and I found myself becoming a tree-hugger overnight! Reading this book brought me to the realization of just how tenuous nature is. What an excellent writer she is, I have enjoyed every one of her books, and this is so different to all others she has written - elevating her far above other run-of the mill authors.' - G. Vance, QLD

'To say this book is about climate change would be misleading. The topic of climate change is a mere trigger for an enthralling portrait of human behaviour - one which will have you disappearing into a small rural community in the Appalachian mountains, very reluctant to leave after some 400 pages.

'Written by Orange Prize-winning author of The Lacuna and The Poisonwood Bible, this is literary fiction with well-developed characters authenticated by credible and endearing dialogue. Kingsolver has an  impressive way with words. I loved her aphorisms: "Everyone had a mother and a God. They were standard issue." I loved her metaphors - e.g. aligning Dellarobia's status with a school group as "on a par with the principal or Dora the Explorer". I loved Dellarobia's hilarious bestie, Dovey. I loved the way Kingsolver can move the narration along, skipping out the boring bits!

'Barbara Kingsolver’s novels have always explored the ways that individuals deal with change in their lives. Her characters are people we can care about and empathise with and she makes their dilemmas as daring and suspenseful as an action thriller, if rather more realistically. In Flight Behaviour, she focuses on the issues and arguments surrounding climate change. With her captivating prose and affectionate wit she explores the human consequences at the ground level. The fate of some misguided butterflies wintering unusually in the Smokey Mountains becomes bound to the life of an Appalachian community and the claustrophobic marriage of Dellarobia and Cub. Like a stone thrown into a pool, the effects of this extraordinary event radiate to a wider world, attracting scientists, tourists and the media. The moral tensions and opportunities for growth that are created by this phenomenon offer a fresh outlook on the contentious subject of global warming – and on the equally contentious possibility of miracles. It is certainly a novel for our time and will challenge every reader to review various perspectives on a range of ideas so easily left in the "too hard basket".' - P. Miller, VIC

'A rewarding, stunning book which well repays the time taken to read it.' - M. Kriewaldt, QLD

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