Saturday, October 25, 2008

Food, home, and rurality in Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I started listening to the audio version of Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (2007) several weeks ago. I found the first few chapters delightful, so I decided the book would be a good one to share with my family as we drove through the Southwest on vacation. The book chronicles the Kingsolver-Hopp family’s year as “locavores.” Their year of living locally began with a move from their long-time home in Tucson to a small farm in Southern Appalachia (SW Virginia to be exact), a region where both Kingsolver and her husband had roots.

I’ve had the same experience both times I’ve listened to the first few chapters of the book. It’s made me cry. What is it, I have pondered, about Kingsolver’s tale, her use of language, or her lovely voice that keeps bringing tears to my eyes? I’ve finally concluded that the book is emotive for me on three bases:

  • Kingsolver’s tender descriptions of her garden, orchard, and the food they produce;
  • Her incredible sense of place and home, as evinced in the chapter titled "Called Home"'
  • Her extraordinary respect for her rural neighbors and their ways, reflected in rich and authentic depictions of both
Kingsolver writes lovingly of all these, which is the joy of the book for anyone with an appreciation for any or all of the three. (Photo of Kingsolver in her garden is from

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