Addie and Tom Kavanagh met in the mid-sixties, when she was a student in his Biology of the Birds class with her best girlfriends, Cora & Lou. She was entranced by Tom that very first lecture, an introduction to the wonder of the world of birds.
"Hollow bones. Imagine what this means. Strength and lightness. Flight and surety. They hover too magnificently between the practical and the whimsical, the rational and the exquisitely nonsensical, for any student of their physiology and habitat and history to dare to linger too long at either pole, the strictly 'scientific' of the purely 'poetic'."
When Addie fell for Tom she also fell for the birds and birdsong that he so loved. She was an accomplished artist and in the early days of their marriage they collaborated on Tom's one and only book, "A Prosody of Birds," for which Addie did the illustrations and gained some recognition for her work.
But as the years pass, Addie finds that she can't appreciate the wonders of the natural world because she is constantly worn down by the worry that humans are destroying it at every turn. Having their only daughter, Scarlet, serves to deepen Addie's concern for the environment and she becomes involved with extremists. Her activities create a distance between her and her family and friends who are hard pressed to understand her single-minded purpose.
When Addie is dying of breast cancer, her family and friends gather at Cora's house on the Jersey shore. Cora's home has been a refuge for the whole family in the last twenty years. Cora has provided caring friendship to both Addie and Tom and has played a very maternal role in Scarlet's life. Though she loved her child very much, the kind of mothering care Cora provided to Scarlet seemed to be the thing missing in Scarlet's relationship with Addie.
In these last days of Addie's life, the complex history and relationships of these individuals will be relived. A tangled web of emotions and motivations exist between this group of people. But, just as Addie was their common denominator in life, her death brings clarity and healing in ways that none of them can imagine.
This is a beautifully written, richly layered novel. Joyce Hinnefeld has painted a realistic and powerful story about the ways that relationships change over time, between husband and wife, parent and child, even close friends. And her lovely, lyrical prose make it a book that is not to be missed.
In Hovering Flight is published by Unbridled Books. ISBN 978-1-932961-58-4
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