Monday, 26 May 2008

The Behaviour of Moths by Poppy Adams

PUBLISHED as The Sister in the US - where perhaps the dissertive title wouldn't go down so well - this book has the kind of power that reminds you of the scene in Close Encounters where the giant ship comes rumbling over, the size of a town.
Ginny is aged and crippled with arthritis, but secure in her fame as a lepidopterist. Long ago, she made breakthroughs in the study of moths which won her worldwide fame.
Everything in this story by young documentary-maker Adams is mutative, scientifically observed, yet open to doubt.
Ginny's adored sister, who left years ago, has returned for an unknown purpose.
Vivien fell off the clock tower and ripped her womb, so could never have children; Ginny carried her baby.
In one of the most beautiful scenes, Ginny, crouched to watch the graveyard where her sister is paying court, sees a nest of frantic ants.
Probing with a finger she sees a larva, which has interfered with the ants' pheromonal signals to turn them into robots servicing its needs. She covers the nest.
"It might seem a hideous and ruthless creature now, but in time it will emerge transformed into a stunning iridescent blue butterfly, one of our rarest and most beautiful, and will be greatly admired as it shimmers in the sun with no knowledge or burden of guilt for its obscene past," she muses.
Excuse me. A little tired. Couldn't stop reading till I finished it at 3.30am. What a story.

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