After reading and adoring The Lacuna and The Poisonwood Bible, I was eager to read this and spent an age waiting to get it from the library. In a nutshell, it is about a young Tennessee mother of two who comes across a huge colony of monarch butterflies in the woods on her husband’s family farm, while going up there to meet a man with whom she is starting an affair. It turns out these butterflies should not really be there and come to be studied by a handsome scientist and his team. Dellarobia, the main character, becomes fascinated by both the butterflies and the scientist as they provide some escape from her humdrum life with a husband she doesn’t really love, a mother-in-law who can barely contain her contempt for her, a prying community and very little money.
It’s a hugely ambitious novel, attempting to marry the everyday lives of poor “redneck” Americans with the impending (currently occurring, in fact) doom of global warming. It has a satisfying, bitter sweet ending and an interesting revelation towards the end which serve as a reward for most of the novel in which not a lot happens; I felt it could have been considerably shorter and lost nothing. The writing is not quite as poetic as found in the other two of Kingsolver’s books I have read and Dellarobia’s character, the girl whose dreams if going to college were thwarted by teen pregnancy now stuck in a rut, is a little clichéd but maybe it’s a cliche because it’s so true?
Up next Persuasion by Jane Austen