Come and chat to BARBARA KINGSOLVER in a Q&A, Tue 25 June, 9-10pm - and read her latest book, FLIGHT BEHAVIOUR

(74 Posts)

Barbara Kingsolver is a particularly fearless author. She tackles complex subjects with passion and vast knowledge. She is also one of America's most feted writers, author of the global bestseller The Poisonwood Bible, and the Orange Prize winner The Lacuna. Her latest book, FLIGHT BEHAVIOUR, is on the shortlist for the 2013 Women's Fiction Prize. It tackles one of the most contentious and tricky contemporary issues: climate change. Dellarobia Turnbow, a young, inquisitive mother of two small children is living on her in-laws farm in rural, Bible-Belt Appalachia. A shotgun marriage has left her dissatisfied and trapped, a stay-at-home mum who was the 'loneliest kind of lonely, in which she was always and never by herself.' Everything changes on the autumn day that she sees a miracle on the mountain - a burning lake of fire that turns out to be millions of orange butterflies. The insects have been diverted from their usual journey to Mexico by the unpredictable weather that is also creating havoc on the failing farm. The media soon leaps on the story of 'Our Lady of the Butterflies', and scientists arrive to study the phenomenon, battling against the farmers who need to clear the land for their livelihood. Kingsolver's understanding of her subject combined with her empathy for those on struggling on the breadline, makes this a meaningful, deeply affecting novel.

You can find details on every Kingsolver book at her official website. It includes a fascinating autobiography with slides, giving an insight into how close she came to throwing her first novel away...

Faber have 50 copies to give to Mumsnetters - to claim yours please go to the book of the month page. We'll post here when all the copies have gone. If you're not lucky enough to bag one of the free books, you can always get your paperback or Kindle version here.

We are thrilled that Barbara will be answering questions about her writing career and all her novels, including FLIGHT BEHAVIOUR, in an emailed Q&A. So please feel free to discuss the book here throughout the month, pop up your questions (about this book or any of her others) by Tue 18 June, and we will post the answers on the bookclub night, Tue 25 June, 9-10pm.

suzannened Thu 16-May-13 13:34:21

I loved this book - I was as concerned for the fate of Dellarobia as I was for the butterflies. I'd like to know how closely Barbara still follows the plight of the Monarch butterflies now - for me the book really raised awareness without being overtly 'preachy' and the environmental issues didn't detract at all from the compelling story of her life in such a small community & the problems she faced
Will try really hard to be here for the chat on 25th June.

Spikeinhiscoat Thu 16-May-13 19:00:29

I haven't read her new book yet, but it's exciting to hear that there is a new one out. I've been a fan of her writing since I read The Poisonwood Bible and it really stayed with me. On a trip to the US I found more of her books, I especially like Bean Trees and the story of Turtle. Her books have a very well-written and evocative sense of location, and strong female characters (Leah and Adah in The Poisonwood Bible).

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 20-May-13 12:20:07

Our free copies giveaway has now closed.

If you applied for a copy and haven't had an email from us by the end of today, please assume you didn't get a free copy this time round, but do buy a copy and post your question for Barbara (ditto if you DID get a free copy) about Flight Behaviour, or any of her other wonderful novels.

We'll be chatting about her writing and Barbara's answers to your questions on Tues 25 June at 9pm. See you then...

Teladi Fri 24-May-13 20:49:35

I was one of the lucky people who got a copy in the giveaway. I'm about 100 pages in and I'm really enjoying it. Dellarobia is great. She feels so real to me and her life, while mundane, really jumps off the page. Dellarobia is one of these fictional characters that you'd really like to be friends with. I'm looking forward to seeing where the story goes.

girlie26 Fri 24-May-13 21:20:56

Ive just received mine too. Just about to start it. Only normal read 'chick lit' fancied something different.

Spikeinhiscoat Mon 27-May-13 08:19:52

I was lucky enough to get a free copy of Flight Behaviour, and it was so exciting to have an actual book delivered (due to lack of additional bookcase space, I now have a kindle, so don't buy proper, paper books, so this was definitely a treat). I got into the story quickly and found Dellarobia a very well-written character. A lot of what she was experiencing was familiar to me, especially in relation to her children (quiter, more serious dc1, and force of nature dc2). I have a background in science, and found it all well-handled (Dr Byron's "this is what science looks like" was great.) None of it was preachy, and Dellarobia's discussion with Leighton Akins about his pledge really made me think. I said upthread about Barbara Kingsolver's sense of location, and that's very apparent here as well. I could picture the farm and mountain very clearly in my head. I really enjoyed this book, much more than The Lacuna. I'll definitely it again.

Best of luck to all the Women's Prize for Fiction finalists (winner announced tomorrow), including Hilary Mantel (previous guest author) and Maria Semple (future guest author, coming in September).

But especially good luck to Barbara. Keeping fingers crossed.

Dunlurking Wed 05-Jun-13 14:45:34

Sadly I didn't get a free copy, but the kindle copy is £2.66 atm smile

Looking forward to 25th June....

funmummy48 Wed 05-Jun-13 16:07:39

I was lucky enough to receive a free copy of this and I'm about half way through it. I'm enjoying reading it but am finding Dellarobia a little bit hard to warm to. I can understand her disallusion with the life she leads and how she got there but find it difficult to feel sympathetic towards her. I'm hoping that this feeling will change as the story progresses. Anyone else feel the same? (I enjoyed The Poisonwood Bible)

annie06 Wed 05-Jun-13 19:49:51

Thank you very much for my copy. I have just started to get into 'Flight Behaviour' and after a slow start I'm starting to warm to Dellarobia. The book is undoubtedly beautifully written and the themes are refreshingly different from my usual 'chicklit'.

girlie26 Thu 06-Jun-13 07:52:11

Three quarters of the way and surprised Ive actually enjoyed the read. The 'science and plight' is interesting without being boring, cant predict the ending.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 07-Jun-13 00:16:10

<marking place>

froggiebabies Fri 07-Jun-13 00:22:32

Great guest. I loved The Poisonwood Bible and Prodigal Summer. I am enjoying Flight Behaviour so far.

madhiker Sun 09-Jun-13 20:05:00

I enjoyed this book (thanks Mumsnet!). It was a particular joy to hold it in my hands, a wee weep-worthy realisation if ever there was one.

Kingsolver has a particular gift for exploring religion in relation to other cultural constructs. In The Poisonwood Bible, the exploration of the intersection of religion and colonialism was searing, devastating and (for me at least) eye-opening. In Flight Behaviour, by contrast, the juxtaposition of religion and science was no less skillfully and sympathetically handled but to a vastly different conclusion. In this story, the use of tropes and passages from the bible were a soothing balm, linking the humanity I know - one marked in spite of all of our scientific knowledge by a sense of powerlessness, confusion and anxiety- to stories of ancient peoples who also wondered and strove within a mysterious and often unforgiving world.

<SPOILERS follow>

I did, however, feel a little bit let down by the novel's conclusion.

At the end, Dellarobia leaves her marriage and the farm to take up study at the local community college, an escape neatly arranged by the visiting professor Ovid Byron. This felt like an ending for fifteen or twenty years ago. Today, the advice (in the media, on the web at least) seems to be that the young should forgo an overpriced education that holds no promise of a stable job afterward. Would a woman like Dellarobia really relish the prospect of such an education in today's political and economical climate? The notion that she might become a vet at the end of her studies was equally jarring: she spent the entire novel working with butterflies, not with the sheep to which she had had access to her entire married life.

Still, novels must end, and I enjoyed the journey to the end so much, I will not squabble anymore. Thank you Ms. Kingsolver!

gailforce1 Sun 09-Jun-13 20:23:47

Thank you for my free copy, I have just started it. I don't know how I have managed not to read any of Barbara Kingsolver's books before as they are often recommended on MN so am really looking forward to this.

alialiath Mon 10-Jun-13 18:22:42

I hope I get a copy in the post, as I was discussing Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible with my aunt, who was raving about it, and told me it's a must read.

girlie26 Mon 10-Jun-13 21:26:52

surprised at the ending I really thought she would give their relationship another chance. I loved the writing style-gentle but informative. I could picture the characters and setting just by Barbara 's descriptive writing. Trying to source the other books to read now. Thanks Mumsnet for opening my eyes to a new genre.

sydom0 Tue 11-Jun-13 12:09:23

I received a copy of this book and have been really impressed with the quality of the content and the way the story is written, it's not the usual type of book I would go for so it has opened up another pathway for me. I will looking into reading more books by this author! Thank You.

funmummy48 Tue 11-Jun-13 12:21:01

I've finished this now and in the end, I did manage to warm to Dellarobia.I found the book a bit difficult to get into but am very pleased that I stuck with it. It seemed that Dellarobia was no different from the Monarch butterfly.....she was off course and had ended up in the wrong place by accident. Like girli26, I was a bit surprised by the ending too.......I'd thought that she would stick with her family and see through what she'd started but I suppose, the butterflies were a catalyst and so something about her life had to change. I was relieved that the ending wasn't too obvious as at one point I was seriously worried that she'd throw herself at Ovid and end up in another mess. I also found Hester a very interesting character; it was good to discover her dark secret as right from the start, there was a feeling that she was carrying something deep within her.
This was an entertaining read which managed to focus on a very topical point without being at all sentimental or preachy. Thanks "mumsnet", I thoroughly enjoyed it.

oricella Wed 12-Jun-13 17:22:02

How did I miss this? [checks calendar and realises that there was no internet in the rainforest I was that week - I do recall lying in a stream and thinking that this reminded me somewhat of the Poisonwood Bible]

I first was told about your books, counts fingers, 18 years ago by an American dentist on a small market square in a remote Nepalese hill town and have been a big admirer of your writing ever since - it's good to read someone so grounded, and it's great you're not shying away from science. Anyway, having seen some pictures of you since, I just wanted to check that you weren't traveling incognito as a dentist at the time... as honestly, I couldn't tell you how we got to talk about the Bean Trees in such an odd location.

I love Vegetable, animal, miracle (or is it the other way around) and now very, very much want to get myself an asparagus bed.. sadly though, I think my plot is too windy and pretty cool - do you reckon I should give it a try?

Apologies for the offbeat questions - I'll be getting a copy of flight behaviour for my holidays

treefrog44 Fri 14-Jun-13 10:30:02

I was lucky enough to receive a copy so thank you!! I was very excited when it arrived as it is a very attractive cover and looked like it was going to be brilliant but... so far I am finding it quite hard going! The book has not captured my attention and I am finding it hard to get into but will keep going for a few chapters as the reviews are very good so I am hoping I will warm to it more...

funmummy48 Sun 16-Jun-13 14:10:31

I found it hard going at first too treefrog44 but am pleased I stuck with it as it did grow on me!

Just a reminder that this is an emailed Q&A so we'll be sending questions to Barbara soon, and posting her answers next week.

So do put all your questions up here asap - they can be about this book or The Poisonwood Bible, or any of Barbara's books. Or about any issue you like - the more the merrier.

EmpressOfTheSevenOceans Tue 18-Jun-13 10:00:31

Hello Ms Kingsolver

I read The Poisonwood Bible about 15 years ago now, but parts of it are still firmly in my head. I'm looking forward to starting Flight Behaviour.

I was reading the biography on your website and saw that you nearly threw your first novel, The Bean Trees, in the bin. My question is, if you had thrown it away do you think you would still have gone on to write your other books?

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