January 13, 2013

Flight Behavior

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
2012 HarperCollins
Finished 11/14/12
Rating: 4.75/5 (Terrific)

One of the gifts of a Kingsolver novel is the resplendence of her prose. She takes palpable pleasure in the craft of writing, creating images that stay with the reader long after her story is done.
—Dominique Browning (The New York Times Book Review)


Dellarobia Turnbow is a restless farm wife who gave up her own plans when she accidentally became pregnant at seventeen. Now, after a decade of domestic disharmony on a failing farm, she has settled for permanent disappointment but seeks momentary escape through an obsessive flirtation with a younger man. She hikes up a mountain road behind her house toward a secret tryst, but instead encounters a shocking sight: a silent, forested valley filled with what looks like a lake of fire. She can only understand it as a cautionary miracle, but it sparks a raft of other explanations from scientists, religious leaders and the media. The bewildering emergency draws rural farmers into unexpected acquaintance with urbane journalists, opportunists, sightseers, and a striking biologist with his own stake in the outcome. As the community lines up to judge the woman and her miracle, Dellarobia confronts her family, her church, her town, and a larger world, in a flight toward truth that could undo all she has ever believed.

Flight Behavior was a wonderful read and, I believe, Kingsolver's best yet. The writing is exquisite and captivating and after two months, I'm still thinking about Dellarobia, Ovid Byron and the Monarch butterflies. I marked several passages in my book, but then made the decision to give up blogging and loaned my ARC to a friend. Now I don't have any to share with you, but perhaps that's for the best. This is a novel you will want to discover on your own. 

With the exception of The Lacuna and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I've read all of Kingsovler's novels and essay collections. I've enjoyed each book, but my favorites are The Poisonwood Bible and High Tide In Tuscon, both of which I'd love to re-read someday. Flight Behavior is now at the top of the list. Highly recommend!


  1. Oh my gosh, this sounds marvelous. I need to make time for it soon.

  2. Oh, I love the sound of this one! I need to catch up on Kingsolver books anyway and will start with this one. I've loved the ones I've read.

  3. If you think this is her best yet then I must pin it to my 2013 board!!!

  4. Les,
    This might be the one book of fiction that I can read.
    (So happy to see you write this post!)

  5. I loved this book, too. Excellent writing and very meaningful, I thought.

  6. I've only read her Poisonwood Bible (which I loved and just purchased for my Kindle so I can easily re-read) but I collect her books. I'm glad that this one didn't disappoint--I have been hearing good things about it so will scoop up a copy when I find one.

  7. Nancy, you (and Bellezza) wrote a much more eloquent review than I did! Wonderful book, isn't it?!

    Trish, if you loved The Poisonwood Bible, you'll really enjoy this one. Get a copy ASAP!

  8. I loved it, but it made me sad. I know that Dellarobia felt the need to get on with her life, but her husband? Her children? My heart breaks for them. Still, as far as writing goes, this novel is exquisite.

  9. Hmmm. This may sound odd, but the cover doesn't appeal to me at all.

    1. Joy, I wish the publisher had chosen a different cover. This one doesn't appeal to me at all, either! I wonder what the paperback cover will look like. Hopefully, it's an improvement!


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