Tuesday, May 13, 2014
The book had a lot of issues and it was long so not everyone was able to finish in time, but in the context, it didn't seem to matter. We never got to the publishers questions and the discussion never flagged. We pretty much agreed that the first couple of chapters were hard to get into and perhaps it's because we trusted the author, we continued. Peggy said she didn't really start to enjoy it until half way.
She had taught school in a poor Appalachian town for three years and told us that it's pronounced, Apaha-lach-ee. Her principal had corrected her and when she said, I was always taught to say, Apah-lay-chee, he said - yeah, we get stuff wrong down here. She said it let her know where she stood.
Several of the ladies had lived in poor communities in the south and we spent some time talking about the grinding hopelessness of their lives. Kingsolver wrote a dialogue between Ovid and Dellarobia, talking about her abysmal science and math scores on the college entrance test. She explained that it was because the teachers didn't like those subjects and substituted PE instead. Peggy said that the weakest teachers she had taught with were at that school.
We also talked about the role of the church in a community. They all said that it was huge, about as huge as football. Hester's was heavily involved in their church. I thought it was because it gave her legitimate contact with Bobby, but they said no - a church is core to a community. I thought when Bear said that weather was the Lord's business, he was using that as an excuse. The ladies said no - remember that he was willing to turn to their pastor for advice and mediation. Did Bear know that Bobby was his own son? I didn't think to wonder until I was driving home.
We talked about Dellarobia and Hester's parallel stories and how circumstances provided different outcomes. Hester always felt that Dellarobia would leave one day. Maureen reminded us that is why she remained distant to her grandchildren, knowing she would lose them. Dellarobia's flight fantasies were always with other men, until she began to awaken to her own potential. We all said that we had hoped that she and Cub would make things work, but what Hester had anticipated was right. We liked Cub and after batting it around, agreed that he would be happier not feeling like he had to apologize and maybe get some praise.
Mary asked what we thought about the ending. I was struck by the house with all their living and all their experiences just lifted up and floated away, like it erased their marriage. Everyone was taken by Dellarobia's bold step, a result of a slow blooming over the course of tracking the butterflies and what a change this also meant for her children. It was hard to end a book with the end of a marriage as a means to a future - we had hope for some kind of bridge between their two world. At that point there was no going back, and as Maureen said, she had no choice. We had a couple of flights - the Monarchs and Dellarobia. She wasn't the same woman anymore. Brilliant book! This is on college reading lists and I think we did a good job parsing out points in our limited time.