Reviewed by Helen Clarry
I enjoyed reading Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver – it is a story that draws you into a world and is entertaining and educational.
It starts with Dellarobia – a farmer’s wife and mother of two young children living in an isolated environment both physically and emotionally. She is knowingly and determinedly on her way to ‘meet her demise’ and ‘wreck her reputation’ by meeting a man for an affair after having enough of having no excitement in her life or marriage, or identity of her own. However, on her way she is struck by the sight of a forest of trees which seem aflame and alive; and although not a believer, she thinks the vision was put there to ‘save her’ and turns back to her home and children. It transpires that the trees – set to be deforested by her father-in-law-are full of Monarch butterflies which have aberrantly changed their normal flight behaviour.
Scientists come to study the butterflies to help find out why, and the phenomenon is brought to the world’s attention through the media, with Dellarobia becoming a minor celebrity. The book highlights climate change through investigating the altered behaviour of the butterflies and changes in the farming world. It also touches on challenging old ways and beliefs, and the urgency of not ignoring the changes that are occurring to the earth and climate.
The mundane details of Dellarobia’s life were amusingly and identifiably written, and the life cycle behaviour of the Monarch butterflies surprisingly interesting. Relationships, behaviour, identifying other people’s point of view, challenging beliefs, and highlighting more important issues than seen insularly were all brought together in this story linking important world issues with people’s everyday lives.
RRP: £8.99 (Paperback)
Available to buy from Faber and Faber here.