Animal Dreams – Barbara Kingsolver

Animal Dreams - Barbara Kingsolver
Animal Dreams – Barbara Kingsolver

This tale of complicated family relationships is set in Grace, Arizona, home to populations of peacocks, Hispanics and Native Americans, which co-exist comfortably in this remote mining town.

Thirty-something Codi returns to Grace to take care of her father, Doc Homer, who’s self-diagnosed the early stages of Alzheimers. Her younger sister Hallie has recently left Tucson to put her agricultural skills to better use in Nicaragua where US-backed Contras are fighting the Sandinistas in theĀ Nicaraguan Revolution.

Back “home”, Codi reconnects with her High School world – some of it happy, most of it not. A strong environmental / ecological strand weaves around her rekindled relationship with Loyd Peregrina, a Native American she knew in her teenage years.

As the story progresses, Grace slowly starts to find herself less of the outsider she always felt herself to be.

Author page: Animal Dreams – Barbara Kingsolver

Pigs in Heaven – Barbara Kingsolver

Taylor Greer and her adopted Cherokee daughter, Turtle, are on the run from Annawake Fourkiller, an attorney for the Cherokee Nation who is challenging Turtle’s adoption under the Indian Child Welfare Act.

As the Wikipedia page mentions, the book provides plenty of detail on the customs, history, and present living situation of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. I knew nothing about any of these, and as well as illustrating all, Pigs in Heaven also provides food for thought on how opposing parties in a tug of love can both have the child’s best interests at heart.

One of Barbara Kingsolver’s earlier novels – and if you’ve enjoyed the later ones, there’s no reason not to enjoy this one too.

Author’s webpage: Pigs in Heaven – Barbara Kingsolver

Flight Behaviour – Barbara Kingsolver

The consequences of climate change and society’s various responses to it are explored through the prism of an autumn / winter /spring in the Appalacians when millions of monarch butterflies arrive out of the blue. As events are narrated by Dellarobia Turnbow, on whose inlaws land the King Billies settle, we learn as much about life in rural mountain towns as we do about butterfly ecology and what this tells us about the existence and impact of global warming.

Long and a little slow/heavy going at times but ultimately very much worth the read.

Author page: Flight Behaviour – Barbara Kingsolver
Review: Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver – Climate change fears are given wings in Barbara Kingsolver’s well observed Appalachian tale (The Observer, Sunday 11 November 2012)

Prodigal Summer – Barbara Kingsolver

Set in a remote Appalachian Mountain community in the American south, Prodigal Summer tells of relationships and love, for people, plants and animals.

We meet incomer Lusa who finds herself widowed and running a farm, a task for which her expertise in moths leaves her ill equipped, as well as struggling with her husband’s family. Hermit-like forest ranger Deanna finds herself an unexpected lover, and struggles with the threat he poses to the newly returned coyote families growing up in the safety of the mountain forest. Grumpy Garnett pours his love into rescuing the American Chestnut, and battles his pro organic neighbour, Nannie.

Lots of lovely characters, a beautiful setting and wonderful focus on nature and man’s relationship with it.

Amazon.co.uk link: Prodigal Summer – Barbara Kingsolver

The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver

I must have looked at this book countless times in libraries and bookshops, but somehow something always put me off. I’m glad that I broke through that “bible” barrier in my last Barbican browse as The Poisonwood Bible is a fantastic book. It provides a great story, told by 5 of the female players, with the action moving from the root of the saga set in 1960s colonial Africa, onwards through events and locations in 1970s and 1980s in both America and Africa.

Buy it: Amazon link