Monday, 29 October 2012

The Behaviour of Moths by Poppy Adams

I came across this book via a review from For Books Sake on scary sisters in literature. This is a book I might previously have overlooked whilst browsing the library bookshelves, but I’m so glad I have read this now.

The story starts with elderly reclusive Ginny in a decrepit mansion waiting for the return of her younger sister Vivien to their childhood home after nearly fifty years of absence. With Vivien’s return, untold secrets begin to emerge as the sisters rediscover each other. Ginny is the narrator and often recalls the dark past events that shape the sisters as they are today.

The family profession was lepidoptery and the mansion house is a museum of moth collections, scientific equipment and academic papers dedicated to generations of lifetime works all centred around moths. The expansive grounds of the Dorset mansion was also where Ginny and Vivien were taught to observe, hunt and capture moths, which Ginny continues even after Vivien had left. As a prolific moth expert, Ginny goes into great detail about moth classifications, the breeding, care and killing of moths and her studies of them. I thought the scientific details were amazingly researched and surprisingly interesting.

All the characters are well formed and the sisters’ relationship is strangely fascinating. I found this story to be elegantly morose and yet full of heart at the same time. Overall it is a striking read.

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