The Behaviour of Moths – marks for originality

So the Literary Kitty has a new batch of books from Lovely Mum and the one that drew my attention first was The Behaviour of Moths by Poppy Adams. Billed as a story of “two sisters and the ties that bind- sometimes a little too tightly”, the book follows the fortunes of one Ginny Stone and her sister Vivien, who are born in a crumbling Dorset mansion in the 1940s.

It is the voice of Ginny that guides us through this story, and it is a strange voice, one that has been cleverly crafted by Adams, a matter-of-fact voice in which the discordant experiences of others can be heard. When Ginny relates the story of the gruesome childhood accident that rendered her sister infertile, we learn that their mother blamed Ginny, and though Ginny herself is nonplussed by her mother’s hysteria, the reader gets the impression that there’s something not quite right here….

Certainly there are strange things afoot in the Moth House, as the local children call the Stones’ desolate mansion. Ginny’s father, Clive, is a lepidopterist  who seems, like Ginny, to care for nothing but moths. He is utterly obsessed -studying them, killing them, collecting them, while his vivacious wife, Maud, turns to sherry and Ginny’s wild and narcissistic sister, Vivi, runs away to London.

This is a creepy tale, not without its dry spells- when Ginny explains her various fascinations with moths. However, it is also incredibly original and the relationship between the sisters was genuinely compelling. Adams creates as real a personality for Vivien as she does for Ginny and I could never quite decide whose side I was on. Ginny with her uncomplicated, unselfish rationality or Vivian with her lively and decidedly more warm-blooded ways?

Decide for yourself, I say. Give The Behaviour of Moths a try. It’s a quirky, entertaining read that pulls you quickly into its murky world and holds you there. I’ve certainly never read a book that’s anything like it.

Buy this book

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2 Comments

Filed under fiction

2 responses to “The Behaviour of Moths – marks for originality

  1. Eva

    Creepy sister books always get my attention, lol. I wonder what my sister thinks of that! 😉 Your review is the first one of Poppy Adams that makes me interested in reading her!

  2. I loved this book! I couldn’t believe how interesting moths were! I actually found them better than the story! She has a new book out later this year – I’m going to try to get hold of a copy as soon as I can!

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