by Barbara Kingsolver
Maria, Sandra, Susie and Andrew discuss the parallel storylines, contrasting characters, diverse themes and original narrative structure of the novel.
‘How could two hardworking people do everything right in life, and end up destitute?’
Willa and her husband, responsible parents and professionals, have nothing but debts and a house falling apart. Their unstable ‘shelter’ also houses a disabled father-on-law and an exasperating, free-spirited daughter. Their son’s wife has just committed suicide to add to their worries…
In a parallel story, set in the 1870s, a troubled husband and progressive science teacher asks:
‘How can a man tell the truth, and be reviled for it?’
Trump’s reactionary America and a reactionary 19thc. New Jersey are related.