Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

flight behaviorThis is one of those posts that just won’t write itself. I keep getting bogged down in the plot summary, when really all I want to do is post my favorite quotes from this novel and let you decide. It’s pretty, and I truly enjoyed reading about the characters, but it is flawed.

It is a novel about global warming and it is not subtle about it. Sometimes the story is sacrificed to get that message across. Lengthy discussions of global warming and what it means and how hopeless it is. Things that aren’t untrue, but perhaps could have been more artistically woven into the story.

But it’s also a novel about a marriage and a mother and a friendship and a mother-in-law. And in those moments, it’s lovely. Now, for the quotes:

They faced each other, a towering, morose man and his small, miserable wife, both near tears. How could two people both lose an argument? (174)

My favorite quotes are ones that express something you’ve seen but never known how to describe.

She could see that his old generosity was still there, but was sometimes being held captive by despair, like a living thing held underwater. (239)

It was hard to feel the remotest sympathy for any of the fools she had been. As opposed to the fool she was probably being now. 394

In one transcendent moment buoyed by two ounces of Riesling she saw the pointlessness of clinging to that life raft, that hooray-we-are-saved conviction of having already come through the stupid parts, to arrive at the current enlightenment. The hard part is letting go, she could see that. There is no life raft; you’re just freaking swimming all the time. (394)

I feel like the quotes I picked aren’t even particularly beautiful. They are just ones that I liked. If blog posts are supposed to recommend a book or not, I’m not sure I could tell you one way or the other. You might be put off by the constant reminder that this is a novel with an issue at its heart instead of a plot. Or maybe you’ll get something out of this book, like I did, even if it’s only a few quotes and a pleasant reading experience.

3 thoughts on “Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

  1. Well, I don’t think this title is for me (the thought of an issue book makes me shudder right now), but those quotes convinced me that I need to try other things by Kingsolver. Do you have a favorite?

  2. I thought this was a really ambitious novel that didn’t quite live up to my expectations though it’s hard to say why exactly. It was fine, but I guess I was expecting a tour de force like The Poisonwood Bible, and this just felt a bit watered down in comparison.

    That said, there was one quote that really struck me and has stuck with me months after having read this, and that is the opening line! I just loved that bit about how a certain feeling comes over you when you go to throw your good life away and it is one part rapture. That is just gorgeous writing.

    On the other hand, I also recall a really clunky terrible bit of writing where Kingsolver describes Dellarobia’s fling as having a “grin that rhymed with chin.” I do not even know what that means, but I do know that that writing is about as bad as that first line was good!

  3. I want to read this, but I’ll definitely have to keep in mind what you’ve said about the message, it sounds like a lot of preaching. I guess it’s just something I don’t understand – include the message, yes, but don’t let the plot get lost otherwise a reader might wonder whether having a plot/characters at all was pointless.

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