TITLE: THE BEHAVIOUR OF MOTHS
AUTHOR: POPPY ADAMS
PUBLISHER: VIRAGO BOOKS
GENRE: GENERAL FICTION
COVER TYPE: PAPER BACK
BLURB FROM THE COVER
From her lookout on the first floor, Ginny watches and waits for her younger sister to return to the crumbling mansion that was once their idyllic childhood home. Vivien has not set foot in the house since she left, forty-seven years ago. Ginny, the reclusive moth expert, has rarely ventured outside it.
But with Vivien’s arrival, dark, unspoken secrets surface. Told in Ginny’s unforgettable voice, this debut novel tells a disquieting story of two sisters and the tied that bind – sometimes a little too tightly…
I thought The Behaviour of Moths was a fantastic book. It was unique reading experience. I hope Poppy Adams writes more novels. They’ll be a treat if they’re remotely like The Behaviour of Moths.
The Behaviour of Moths is narrated by Ginny. Her voice is unique. Adams makes it clear from the start Ginny isn’t completely normal. She hasn’t left the house in decades. She’s reluctant to interact with the local community. She indulges in obsessive behaviour. I thought she was a great narrator. I liked her slightly skewed viewpoint. One of my favourite scenes is when Vivi finds out Ginny’s sold almost everything in the mansion for her ‘pension’. Vivi is distraught that the family’s heritage is gone. Ginny doesn’t understand why Vivi’s so upset. Her concept of anything outside her own reality was very limited. I felt she was a very real character.
Adams is a very competent writer. I like her descriptions and detail. I like the dialogue. I felt like every word was necessary. She did a great job of creating the characters of Ginny and Vivi and developing the relationship between them. She created a very realistic setting.
Ginny, like her father is a lepidopterist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lepidopterist), someone who specialises in the study of moths, butterflies, skipper butterflies and moth-butterflies. She specialised in moths as did her father. Ginny was quite famous before she retired. Adams includes a lot of detail about this in The Behaviour of Moths. I actually really enjoyed this. I usually loathe it when writers go into a lot of details about things not connected to the main plot. However, all the information Adams includes about being a lepidopterist is interesting and does a great job of creating the character of Ginny, her father and showing family relationships.
I loved the structure of The Behaviour of Moths. Adams effortlessly moves the narrative back and forth in time. There are some chapters set in the present that deal with Vivi and Ginny trying to re-bond after so many years. Vivi hasn’t been home since their mother died after falling down the cellar stairs. At time this was written off as an accident. Ginny reveals, through time shifts that their mother was an alcoholic and she covered for her. In the present, Vivi reveals everyone knew about her mother’s alcoholism. She thinks their father murdered their mother to stop her drunken violence towards Ginny. Adams hints Vivi had come back to make Ginny accept the reality of how their mother really died. Ginny thinks Vivi’s lost her marbles. Adams gradually weaves back story into the present narrative of The Behaviour of Moths. She does this really well. I felt all the backstory was necessary. I loved the insight she gave into Ginny and Viv’s past.
There’s a wonderful twist towards the end of The Behaviour of Moths. Ginny’s perfectly controlled little life falls apart when some of what Vivi tells her sinks in. She does something shocking. Her actions left me reeling. I never saw them coming. I love it when writers take me by surprise. Ginny’s actions knocked the wind out of me.
I can’t think of a single one. I enjoyed everything about The Behaviour of Moths.
THE OPENING LINE
It’s ten to two in the afternoon and I’ve been waiting for my little sister, Vivi, to arrive since one thirty…
I thought The Behaviour of Moths was a great novel. It captivated me, held my attention and moved me in a way a novel hasn’t in a long time. It was an unexpected pleasure to read.