Barbara Kingsolver’s FLIGHT BEHAVIOUR – a grand model for the environmental novel

May 3, 2014

13438524-1I’m tracking through a lot of books as I tackle my own nonfiction project, on climate change and environmental law. Novel reading offers some light relief of an evening – Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behaviour nimbly blends both worlds.

It was the voice of Dellarobia, the main character, which drew me in – a young mother in the Appalachias, uneducated but bright (with a tart line in dialogue). It was the voice of a place and community I did not know … one suffering a deluge. Then clouds of millions of monarch butterflies amass themselves on the trees of the neighbouring hill. This is a fictional take on life, as the monarchs are seen as being moved up north from Mexico by climate change. A professor comes in hot pursuit. The dynamics of family and media and strangers are done extremely well. Sometimes, just sometimes, you sniff a bit of didacticism but then the lessons on climate change that are delivered are worth learning. The whole is very artfully structured, the people all so real. It’s a hearty recommendation.

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