Retired to mountains of California. Sell on eBay as Prsilla. No TV. Volunteer in wildlife rehab. Knit, sew or embroider while listening.
This is top drawer literature -- by a young woman of our own times. I think the story was harder to craft than Prodigal Summer where the pieces fit together and are so wonderfully thought out; that book took me several listens to get -- and, well, that would be my desert island book if I needed one. This book was perhaps more ambitions; the elements were more difficult to deal with -- an hypothetical natural phenomenon, and a nearly hopeless family structure going back generations. A completely happy ending would have been phoney. The ending we get is plenty good.
I love Kingsolver's use of words and her own reading which gets the accent of her own people, even as she is educated and speaks standard English. Even if she didn't get the accent of the doctor very well, she did okay, and it would be a shame to let an actor try to read her Appalachian characters. As I listened, I wondered how many edits that took and imagined her choosing the exact words. The writing is a treat with exquisite descriptions and situations.
I wanted to cry when Dellarobbia and Cub were Christmas shopping in the dollar store and also having a fight. They kept picking up possible gifts for their precious children, and everything they could remotely afford was inadequate trash. Anybody who doesn't know about poverty might get a feel for it here. It seemed that their whole lives were "You can't get there from here!" All the characters seem trapped by poor choices in the past. I wondered if Dellarobbia was going to fall for Ovid, make a fool of herself, etc. But I recently had a similar experience with a married man who was at a higher level and much more fortunate circumstances. I loved being with him and felt lifted by the new vistas he showed me in a perfectly innocent chat during a four-hour drive. I had not met such an interesting man in decades -- never mind that he went home to a wife! And that is how I believe Dellarobbia felt. Having Ovid's wife show up -- and to see what a pistol she is and how happy he is with her -- that put things in place. Developments toward the end show me what loving parents can do if they bend every prayer and effort to improve the lives of their kids if not their own. The story is quite pithy at family level with secrets coming out and people taking their stands. Several re-listens will only be a richer experience for all this.
Oh, yeah, the book is full of butterflies and ecology and sheep farming. I almost fell out of my chair when mother-in-law Hester got out her niddy-noddy and was weighing and winding yarn! They dyed yarn, and Dellarobbia saved the life of a lovely black female lamb. Some listeners thought there was too much boring ecology preaching, but Prodigal Summer has a bit of that, and science is complicated. We used to ask my physician father questions at the dinner table; he always took a long time to answer because he knew the complications we couldn't imagine. I say let's let Kingsolver educate us a little while she's telling a great story. Let's not be knee-jerk with eyeliner like the awful TV anchor woman. But I begin to blather. Get the book!
I do recommend this to friends! The issues are facing all of us, and Kingsolver wraps them in great writing and humor.
The story creates empathy for different perspectives on the pressing issues of climate change, and offers points of view that can easily be overlooked--i.e. if one lives close to the land in the South (or anywhere), what are the pressures that affect one's life as it relates to the environment, to education, to economics? I also found myself laughing aloud at her turn of a phrase and her ability to represent the variety of voices that make up a town, and a planet.
I enjoyed her characters, and felt she could bring nuance to their thinking and expression. She knows her subjects. She knows more about these characters and where they came from, and where they're headed than a 'professional' actor would.
I appreciate that Kingsolver is willing to invest her time and research into one of the most controversial issues of our times. That there remains uncertainty about the impact of climate change is unfathomable to me. The way she put the media in its place by the passionate scientist lampooning the superficiality of the interviewer was satisfying to me. The call to 'wake-up' was loud and clear. The story was engaging enough that her reason for writing it was not lost in the message--and I learned more about butterflies and the environment. Not to mention sheep, and the hope that we still may have to heed the wake up call and believe in the miracle of life.
I've not been a total Barbara Kingsolver fan... some of her books were amazing, and others lost me in the first chapter .... I did have to listen to the first part 3 times before I understood where she was headed, but after that I was hooked.
This is a story of culture clashes, environmental issues, and the human condition. Dellarobia, an unlikely heroine, is a bright and articulate woman who is married to the dullard who fathered her children, and stuck in a life of second hand stores and family dysfunction. As she witnesses an environmental oddity, she is thrust into a world that has been hidden from her by her own fate.
Kingslover weaves a great tale of values, yet some of the story lines get tied up in a hurried manner. Her narration is crisp, but the character voices are a bit beyond her range. That aside, the story is satisfying and enlightening on many levels.
Beautiful! Everyday I looked forward to listening to this. Its a good story, beautifully written with some interesting science. I loved Barbara Kingsolver as a reader for this book. Her voice has great authenticity and always seemed on target.
This book is well worth reading.
This is a phenomenal book. Set in Tennessee,in Appalachia, it is the story of the disruption caused by a monarch butterfly community that is misplaced from Mexico to a Tennessee mountain. The story is narrated through Dellarobia Turnbow. She is a high school graduate whose education was interrupted by a premarital miscarried pregnancy, followed by marriage and 2 children. She is married into a family of sheep breeders who do not accept her, and to their son who is not her intellectual equal. She accidentally discovers the displaced monarch community occupying the fir forests above her house, while on a tryst. The book describes the social, environmental and scientific ramifications of the butterfly relocation. Along the way, Ovid Byron, a butterfly biologist arrives and rekindles in Dellarobia an academic interest in learning which had been dormant since high school. All this and much, much more, including family politics, insight into how a child sees the world and sympathy for every one. Also, there is the amazing biology and life cycle of the monarchs and interpretation of how global warming is affecting this planet.
There is description of the press distortions of events and the effect of Dellarobia suddenly being a celebrity.
This book is definitely a romantic book, in that everyone is seen through rosy and sympathetic filters. For instance, I have not run into any young mothers who have the innate intelligence, inquisitiveness, imagination and thirst for knowledge attributed to Dellarobia. On the other hand that is the charm which makes you enthralled with her.Also, as a doctor and scientist, I have yet to know anyone with the purity of motive and idealism of Ovid Byron, but I would like to think they exist. This is the best book I have listened to on books on tape and it is read lovingly by its creator,
The lightness and humor in the story. Liked least - the surprise attack of environmentalist "speech-ifying", that made the story seem as if it transitioned from a light and airy sailboat ride to being imprisoned on a stranded oil barge.
The professor's wife, because of the author's skill in describing a character so well that it seemed almost as if she could have walked off the page into real life.
Dinner with the professor.
Yes, but only if the preaching were excised in its entirety. If an author feels that she has a good story with a good message, why does she feel the need to pause and batter the reader with the message?
The author's reading of her work is better than most of the professional readers the audiobook companies employ.
I grew up near the area represented in this story, and could vividly picture real people in these characters' situations. The pace of the story was not too fast, not too slow, just as life in rural Tennessee can be.
I appreciated that each character had flaws and strengths; this kept each of them important to the story.
The central character, Dellarobia was my favorite character. She evoked sympathy as well as respect, as she managed her family and herself in a less than friendly situation.
The author/narrator did a good job of making Cub seem to be the affable, immature, little boy inside a man's body. But she also made him likeable in her slow way of speaking his lines.
I was definitely engaged in the story; I listen to audiobooks when I run, and wanting to hear the story helped motivate me to go out even on the cold, raw days!
Better might be difficult to discern. I might have read it with a Tennessee accent in my mind if reading, but Barbara wrote the words so the full intent of the phrasing came through beautifully.
The Language of Flowers. The main characters in both books had troubling childhoods with little parental supervision hence they had to work much harder at making the relationships in their lives work.
Hester was a favorite because her sarcasm gave her just the right piss and vinager to make her personal confession near the end seem real and sincere.
Ovid was to me the figure who stood out. An educator, devoted to his "flocks of subjects" was so very dedicated to his work and wife that he never even noticed that he was the source of much adulation.
Loved having this book read to me by the author. I would love it if more authors has the voice to do it.
Marriage and Family Therapist
The writing is pitch perfect. The characters are so well painted. You can hear their voices. They are real - not villains or heroes, but people struggling to do their best, given their live's struggles. As always, Kingsolver weaves these individual perspectives against a backdrop of the social, environmental and political aspects of climate change - allowing us, through fiction to see the potential losses heading our way.
In some ways, this is one of her sadder stories. But she brings hope into the picture as well, and a touch of redemption too.
Normally, I'm wary when an author reads their own work, but she did an amazing job bringing her story and characters to life.
Ultimately, a very satisfying listen!
Engaging, Enticing, Entertaining
Preston, a sweet child. I loved the Christmas watch. And the protagonist, who shown saintly restraint with Hester.
Barbara's voice was perfect for the Appalachian region of the setting. Of course, she knew what she wanted to convey and she is an excellent reader.
Yes, but that was impossible for me.I could not wait to get back to it at the end of the day.
Lovers of Barbara's earlier fiction will find this story more in the vein of Prodigal Summer and even Poisonwood Bible. I think Barbara is a solid writer with an engaging way with language, but I think she may want to consider a pen name for her more esoteric works like Lacuna.