Archive for June 18th, 2013

A species’ survival and a housewife’s future hinge upon the ‘Flight Behavior’ of Barbara Kingsolver’s latest outing

June 18, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
June 18, 2013

Dellarobia Turnbow is a woman with a kindergartner, a toddler and a problem: She feels trapped and bored by her marriage. What she doesn’t realize at the opening of Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver’s 2012 novel, is that her life is about to undergo an amazing transformation.

The change is prompted by the migration of monarch butterflies to the Tennessee mountaintop owned by her husband’s family. The unexpected winter visitors attract the attention of one Ovid Byron, lepidopterist extraordinaire, and trigger all sorts of upheaval in the Turnbow clan.

Kingsolver, a former scientist, is a tremendously gifted writer with twin specialties: The American makes both complex biological systems and rural American culture seem equally understandable to outsiders. Both subjects receive prominent play in Flight Behavior, which takes place during one winter outside the fictitious village of Feathertown.

This book makes a fascinating companion to Kingsolver’s 2000 outing, Prodigal Summer, which was set in the Virginia mountains in, obviously, a much warmer season. But whereas the earlier book was told from the perspective of three different characters, Flight Behavior never strays out of Dellarobbia’s head. Read the rest of this entry »

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