Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Book Review: "Animal Dreams"

Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Dreams takes Thomas Wolfe's "you can't go home again" as its main theme, beginning as it does with main character Cosima (Codi) Noline returning to the small mining town of Grace, Arizona where she grew up but which she thought she'd long ago left behind. Codi is forced to grapple with all the trials of a new life in an old place, where long-buried secrets lurk in the shadows. She must also deal with the growing senility of her father and the absence of her sister, who's gone to Nicaragua to help the farmers defend themselves from the Contras.

Kingsolver's prose, as with everything of hers I've read, is excellent. Her ability to describe elements of both the natural world and human nature is well honed, and she puts it to as good use here with the pueblos and arroyos of the Southwest as with the verdant forests of Appalachia in Prodigal Summer.

What this novel lacks in suspense or plot twists it makes up for with its elegance and simplicity.

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