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Pigs in Heaven

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Overview

When six-year-old Turtle Greer witnesses a freak accident at the Hoover Dam, her insistence on what she has seen and her mother's belief in her lead to a man's dramatic rescue. But Turtle's moment of celebrity draws her into a conflict of historic proportions. The crisis quickly envelops not only Turtle and her mother, Taylor, but everyone else who touches their lives in a complex web connecting their future with their past. A deeply felt novel of love despite the risks, of tearing apart and coming together, Pigs...
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1993 AUDIO CASSETTE Good Audio Book 9 RELIABLE audio cassettes withdrawn from the library in the clamshell case published by Recorded Books. Some shelf wear and library markings ... to the box and the cassettes. The audio tapes are sturdy and presentable. Enjoy this UNABRIDGED audio performance! Read more Show Less

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1993 Audio cassette Good 9 AUDIO CASSETTES, tested for your satisfaction for a worthwhile set, in the clamshell case withdrawn from the library collection. Some shelf wear and ... library marking to the box and the tapes. The Audio Cassettes are in individual slots, protected and clear sounding. Enjoy this worthwhile AUDIO CASSETTE performance. Read more Show Less

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1994 audio Book Good 9 RELIABLE audio cassettes withdrawn from the library in the clamshell case published by Recorded Books. Some shelf wear and library markings to the box ... and the cassettes. The audio tapes are sturdy and presentable. Enjoy this UNABRIDGED audio performance! Read more Show Less

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Pigs in Heaven

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Overview

When six-year-old Turtle Greer witnesses a freak accident at the Hoover Dam, her insistence on what she has seen and her mother's belief in her lead to a man's dramatic rescue. But Turtle's moment of celebrity draws her into a conflict of historic proportions. The crisis quickly envelops not only Turtle and her mother, Taylor, but everyone else who touches their lives in a complex web connecting their future with their past. A deeply felt novel of love despite the risks, of tearing apart and coming together, Pigs in Heaven travels the roads from rural Kentucky and the Urban Southwest to Heaven, Oklahoma, and the Cherokee Nation. Along the way it introduces a vivid cast of characters, including Jax, Taylor's insecure boyfriend, who plays in a band called the Irascible Babies; Barbie, a perky young woman who has modeled her life on Barbie the doll, except for her habit of crime; Alice, Taylor's mother, who is on the verge of leaving a silent husband whose idea of partnership in marriage is to spray WD-40 on anything that squeaks; and Annawake Fourkiller, an idealistic young attorney for the Cherokee nation, who must learn to reconcile the truths in her heart with those in her head. As this spellbinding novel unfolds, it draws the reader into a world of heartbreak and redeeming love, testing the boundaries of family and the many separate truths about the ties that bind. With Pigs in Heaven, Barbara Kingsolver has given us her wisest, most compelling work to date.
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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
Possessed of an extravagantly gifted narrative voice, Kingsolver blends a fierce and abiding moral vision with benevolent concise humor. Her medicine is meant for the head, the heart and the soul.
Newsweek
A crackerjack storyteller. . . Kingsolver has a way with miracles. One is the way she opens her plot to them. The other is the way she makes us believe.
People
Full of wit, compassion, and intelligence.
Washington Post Book World
There is no one quite like Barbara Kingsolver in contemporary literature. Her dialogue sparkles with sassy wit and the earthy poetry of ordinary folks' talk; her descriptions have a magical lyricism rooted in daily life but also on familiar terms with the eternal.
San Francisco Chronicle
Kingsolver makes you care about her characters to the point of tears; she is bitingly funny—and she writes like a dream.
Cosmopolitan
Breathtaking. . . unforgettable. . . . This profound, funny, bighearted novel, in which people actually find love and kinship in surprising places, is also heavenly. . . . A rare feat and a triumph.
Los Angeles Times Book Review
That rare combination of a dynamic story told in dramatic language, combined with issues that are serious, debatable and painful...[it's] about the human heart in all its shapes and ramifications.
Boston Globe
Immensely readable, warmhearted...brim[ming] with down-home wisdom and endearing characters.
Kirkus Reviews
For what's hoped to be a "break-out book," a greatly gifted storyteller returns to the characters and settings of her celebrated first novel (The Bean Trees, 1987). Kingsolver previously tracked plucky ex-Kentuckian Taylor Greer as she made her way west to Tucson, struggling to earn a living and to deal with the frightened, wounded toddler Turtle, who had been abandoned in Taylor's care in Oklahoma. Now it's three years later. Settled Tucsoners Taylor and Turtle are on vacation at the Hoover Dam when six-year-old Turtle witnesses an accident—a retarded man has fallen into a spillway. When the man is rescued, Turtle becomes a celebrity—which brings self-confidence but also the attention of Cherokee Nation authorities in Heaven, Oklahoma—especially that of Indian-activist lawyer Annawake Fourkiller, who recognizes Turtle as a missing Cherokee child called Lacey Stillwater; Lacey, it turns out, is the daughter of a deceased Cherokee woman whose alcoholic sister's abusive boyfriend broke both of Turtle's arms before the sister and boyfriend ditched her and disappeared. When Fourkiller pays an ominous visit to Taylor, whose adoption of Turtle may have been illegal, Taylor packs up the child and goes on the lam. As their flight becomes more punishing, Turtle regresses severely. Meanwhile, Taylor's spirited mother Alice Greer, remembering she has a Cherokee cousin in the town of Heaven, pays a visit, snoops around, and falls in love—with Cash Stillwater, Lacey/Turtle's grandfather and only living relative. Soon Taylor (no mother, not even those in the Indian myth of the odd title, is more loving) shows up to spare Turtle the trials of flight. All will be amicably,hilariously, and heartwarmingly settled to everybody's satisfaction. Not the truly wonderful book it might have been—characters who seem important disappear; carefully marked trails turn out to be merely picaresque, leading nowhere—but a terrific read nonetheless. (First printing of 100,000)
From Barnes & Noble
When 6-year-old Turtle Greer witnesses a freak accident at the Hoover Dam, her insistence on what she has seen leads to a man's dramatic rescue. But Turtle's moment of celebrity soon draws her and everyone in her life into a conflict of historic proportions.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556909368
  • Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
  • Publication date: 12/28/1993
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged

Meet the Author

Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver's work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has earned a devoted readership at home and abroad. She was awarded the National Humanities Medal, our country's highest honor for service through the arts. She received the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for the body of her work, and in 2010 won Britain's Orange Prize for The Lacuna. Before she made her living as a writer, Kingsolver earned degrees in biology and worked as a scientist. She now lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia.

Barbara Kingsolver's work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has earned a devoted readership at home and abroad. She was awarded the National Humanities Medal, our country's highest honor for service through the arts. She received the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for the body of her work, and in 2010 won Britain's Orange Prize for The Lacuna. Before she made her living as a writer, Kingsolver earned degrees in biology and worked as a scientist. She now lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia.

Biography

According to the biography on her website, Barbara Kingsolver began writing around the age of nine. Her early "oeuvre" included poems, short stories, and essays, including one noteworthy piece on school safety that was published in the local newspaper, helped to pass a local bond issue, and netted the author a $25 savings bond -- "on which she expected to live comfortably into adulthood."

Kingsolver left her native Kentucky to attend DePauw University on a piano scholarship; but intellectual curiosity (the same quality that informs her writing) prompted her to transfer from the music school to the college of liberal arts where she majored in biology. Immediately after college, she traveled in Greece and France and returned to the U.S. to pursue her master's degree in science from the University of Arizona. She worked for a while as a science writer for the university before becoming a freelance journalist. In 1986 she won an Arizona Press Club Award.

Kingsolver's first novel, The Bean Trees, was composed entirely at night during a period of chronic, pregnancy-related insomnia. Published in 1988, this story of a young woman transplanted from Kentucky to Tucson was reviewed enthusiastically by critics. " As clear as air," rhapsodized The New York Times Book Review. "It is the southern novel taken west, its colors as translucent and polished as one of those slices of rose agate from a desert shop." Readers, too, proclaimed the story a delight.

Since then, Kingsolver has produced a string of bestselling novels, including Pigs in Heaven, The Poisonwood Bible (an Oprah's Book club selection), and Prodigal Summer. She has also authored collections of her poems (Another America), short stories (Homeland), and essays (Small Wonders); as well as nonfiction narratives like Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

Good To Know

In 2008, Kingsolver delivered the commencement address at Duke University, offering graduates advice on "How to be Hopeful."

She is a member of the Rock Bottom Remainders, a rock and roll band consisting of published writers, including Amy Tan, Matt Groening, Dave Barry, and Stephen King among others.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      April 8, 1955
    2. Place of Birth:
      Annapolis, Maryland
    1. Education:
      B.A., DePauw University, 1977; M.S., University of Arizona, 1981
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Queen of Nothing

Women on their own run in Alice's family. This dawns on her with the unkindness of a heart attack and she sits up in bed to get a closer look at her thoughts, which have collected above her in the dark.

It's early morning, April, windless, unreasonably hot even at this sun-forsaken hour. Alice is sixty-one. Her husband, Harland, is sleeping like a brick and snoring. To all appearances they're a satisfied couple sliding home free into their golden years, but Alice knows that's not how it's going to go. She married him two years ago for love, or so she thought, and he's a good enough man but a devotee of household silence. His idea of marriage is to spray WD-40 on anything that squeaks. Even on the nights when he turns over and holds her, Harland has no words for Alice--nothing to contradict all the years she lay alone, feeling the cold seep through her like cave air, turning her breasts to limestone from the inside out. This marriage has failed to warm her. The quiet only subsides when Harland sleeps and his tonsils make up for lost time. She can't stand the sight of him there on his back, driving his hogs to market. She's about to let herself out the door.

She leaves the bed quietly and switches on the lamp in the living room, where his Naugahyde recliner confronts her, smug as a catcher's mitt, with a long, deep impression of Harland running down its center. On weekends he watches cable TV with perfect vigilance, as if he's afraid he'll miss the end of the world--though he doesn't bother with CNN, which, if the world did end, is where the taped footage would run. Harland prefers the Home Shopping Channel because he can follow it with the sound turned off.

She has an edgy sense of being watched because of his collection of antique headlights, which stare from the china cabinet. Harland runs El-Jay's Paint and Body and his junk is taking over her house. She hardly has the energy to claim it back. Old people might marry gracefully once in a while, but their houses rarely do. She snaps on the light in the kitchen and shades her eyes against the bright light and all those ready appliances.

Her impulse is to call Taylor, her daughter. Taylor is taller than Alice now and pretty and living far away, in Tucson. Alice wants to warn her that a defect runs in the family, like flat feet or diabetes: they're all in danger of ending up alone by their own stubborn choice. The ugly kitchen clock says four-fifteen. No time-zone differences could make that into a reasonable hour in Tucson; Taylor would answer with her heart pounding, wanting to know who'd dropped dead. Alice rubs the back of her head, where her cropped gray hair lies flat in several wrong directions, prickly with sweat and sleeplessness. The cluttered kitchen irritates her. The Formica countertop is patterned with pink and black loops like rubber bands lying against each other, getting on her nerves, all cocked and ready to spring like hail across the kitchen. Alice wonders if other women in the middle of the night have begun to resent their Formica. She stares hard at the telephone on the counter, wishing it would ring. She needs some proof that she isn't the last woman left on earth, the surviving queen of nothing. The clock gulps softly, eating seconds whole while she waits; she receives no proof.

She stands on a chair and rummages in the cupboard over the refrigerator for a bottle of Jim Beam that's been in the house since before she married Harland. There are Mason jars up there she ought to get rid of. In her time Alice has canned tomatoes enough for a hundred bomb shelters, but now she couldn't care less, nobody does. If they drop the bomb now, the world will end without the benefit of tomato aspic. She climbs down and pours half an inch of Jim Beam into a Bengals mug that came free with a tank of gas. Alice would just as soon get her teeth cleaned as watch the Bengals. That's the price of staying around when your heart's not in it, she thinks. You get to be cheerleader for a sport you never chose. She unlatches the screen door and steps barefoot onto the porch.

The sky is a perfect black. A leftover smile of moon hides in the bottom branches of the sugar maple, teasing her to smile back. The air isn't any cooler outside the house, but being outdoors in her sheer nightgown arouses Alice with the possibility of freedom. She could walk away from this house carrying nothing. How those glass eyeballs in the china cabinet would blink, to see her go. She leans back in the porch swing, missing the squeak of its chains that once sang her baby to sleep, but which have been oppressed into silence now by Harland's WD-40. Putting her nose deep into the mug of bourbon, she draws in sweet, caustic fumes, just as she used to inhale tobacco smoke until Taylor made her quit.

She raised a daughter in this house and planted all the flowers in the yard, but that's nothing to hold her here. Flowers you can get tired of. In the record heat of this particular Kentucky spring the peonies have blown open their globes a month ahead of Memorial Day. Their face-powder scent reminds her of old women she knew in childhood, and the graveyard. She stops swinging a minute to listen: a huffling sound is coming from the garden. Hester Biddle's pigs. Hester lives a short walk down the road and has taken up raising Vietnamese miniature potbellied pigs for a new lease on life after her stroke. She claims they're worth two thousand per pig, but Alice can't imagine on what market. They're ugly as sin and run away for a hobby, to root in Alice's peony beds. "Go on home," Alice says in a persuasive voice. The pigs look up.

"I mean it," she says, rising from the porch swing, her hands on her hips. "I'm not above turning you all into bacon."

In the dim light from the kitchen their eyes glow red. Pigs are turning out to be the family curse: Alice's mother, a tall, fierce woman named Minerva Stamper, ran a hog farm alone for fifty years. Alice picks up an empty flowerpot from the porch step and throws it at the pigs. The darkness absorbs it. She throws a dirt clod and a pair of pruning shears, which also vanish. Then a medium-sized aluminum bowl. Harland ordered the Cornucopia Of Bowls from the shopping channel for their wedding anniversary, so now their home has a bowl for every purpose. She picks up another one and gives it a fling. She'll have to pick them up in the morning, in front of God and the Biddles, but she wants those pigs out of her life. She finds a galvanized watering can and lifts herself on the balls of her feet, testing her calves. Alice is in good shape, despite her age; when she concentrates she can still find all her muscles from the inside. When her first husband left her the house fell apart but she and her daughter held up well, she thinks, everything considered.

She heaves the watering can but can't tell where it's gone. It lands with a ding--possibly it struck a member of the Cornucopia. The red pig eyes don't even blink. Alice feels defeated. She returns to the porch to collect her losses.

She's not walking away from here. Who would take her in? She knows most of the well-to-do women in town, from cleaning their houses all the years she was raising Taylor, but their respect for Alice is based on what she could tell the world about their basements. On Fridays, Alice plays poker with Fay Richey and Lee Shanks--cheerful, husky-voiced women who smoke a lot and are so thankful to still be married, if she left Harland they'd treat her like she had a virus. Minerva and the hog farm are both gone, of course, the one simply dead and buried, the other sold to pay its own debts. It depresses Alice deeply to think how people's lives and all other enterprises, like life insurance, can last long enough to cancel themselves out.

A mockingbird lands on the tip of a volunteer mulberry that has grown up through the hedge. Flapping to stay balanced, he makes the long branch bob and sway like a carnival ride. His little profile flails against a horizon the color of rising dough. In the few minutes it took Alice to make an accounting of her life, dawn was delivered to this address and the automatic spotlight on Biddles' barn winked off. No matter what kind of night you're having, morning always wins.

The mockingbird springs off his mulberry branch into darkness and then materializes up on the roof, crowing to this section of the county that her TV antenna is his and his alone. Something about the male outlook, Alice thinks, you have got to appreciate. She stands with her arms crossed against her chest and observes the dark universe of the garden, which is twinkling now with aluminum meteorites. She hears the pigs again. It's no wonder they like to come here; they get terrified down at Biddles' when Henry uses more machinery than he needs. Yesterday he was using the hay mower to cut his front yard, which is typical. The poor things are just looking for a home, like the Boat People. She has a soft spot for refugees and decides to let them stay. It will aggravate Hester, who claims that every time they eat Alice's peonies they come home with diarrhea.

Copyright © 1994 by Barbara Kingsolver.

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Table of Contents

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Reading Group Guide

Plot Summary
We don't think of ourselves as having extended families. We look at you guys and think you have contracted families.
- Annawake Fourkiller in Pigs in Heaven

"Women on their own run in Alice's family." So thinks Alice Greer, sixty-one years old, as she is about to leave her second husband, Harland; and the novel appears to offer no argument against this. She, her daughter Taylor, and Taylor's informally adopted daughter, Turtle, all seem fated to lives uncomplicated by relationships with men. But simplicity is gone forever when Taylor and Turtle (who is Cherokee) appear on TV by a coincidence of fate, and come to the attention of Annawake Fourkiller, a lawyer for the Cherokee nation. Taylor finds herself in a conflict between her own and what she thinks of as Turtle's best interests, and those of the tribe. Citing the Indian Welfare Act, which states that all adoptions of Native American children must be authorized by their tribes, Annawake detrmines to try to invalidate Turtle's adoption. Meanwhile, fearing that she will lose her daughter, Taylor takes Turtle and flees Arizona, leaving behind her devoted boyfriend, Jax. Along the way to resolution of this seemingly irresolvable conflict, many lives are changed.

-1993 Los Angeles Book Award for Fiction
-1994 Mountain and Plains Booksellers Association Award

Kingsolver on Pigs in Heaven:
"Every book I write begins with a question. With Pigs in Heaven the question had to do with ideas of community and individualism, and how we can integrate those very different -- sometimes even antagonistic--senses ofvalue. Living in the West, I've seen many real-life cases of Native American kids who've been taken outside their tribes to be raised by non-native parents, and whose tribes later want them brought back. The way these cases are played out in the media is very telling. The mainstream media focus on the adoptive mother and child; that's a holy icon, literally, in our culture. The news stories ask, how can it be in the best interest of this child to lose its children? When you think about it, those questions are coming from very different assumptions about what is most important in this world. What's best for the individual? What's best for the group? Those questions seem to pass each other in the air. I began to wonder if there was any point of intersection in that dialogue. I decided to try to write a story that would compel you to think, and laugh, and really love both sides of that particular fight.

For additonal copies, contact your local bookseller.

Topics for Discussion
1. When Annawake first meets Taylor, she states the book's central problem this way: "There's the child's best interest and the tribe's best interest, and I'm trying to think of both things." What is Turtle's best interest -- in Taylor's view? in the tribe's view? in your view? Did the book change the way you might respond to such a case if you read about it in the newspaper? Do you think the events of the novel relate at all to the complexities of interethnic adoptions in general? Particularly in a racist society?

2. What motivates Taylor when she runs away? What motivates Annawake's pursuit of Taylor? How do you feel about these two women? In what ways are they similar? How do they change, and why?

3. Talking to Annawake, Jax poses the question: "How can you belong to a tribe, and be your own person, at the same time? You can't. If you're verifiably one, you're not the other." (chp. 15, "Communion"). Are there ways to reconcile the claims of individuality and those of the group? Does the novel suggest any of them? What does Alice discover, for instance, during the stomp dance (in Chp. 26, "Old Flame")? How do the values of the Cherokee community described here differ from those of dominant U.S. culture, particularly around this question of community vs. individualism?

4. The novel seems to suggest that cultural emphasis on independence, mobility, and self-reliance can lead to loneliness and alienation. How do individual characters -- Alice, Barbie, Rose, Cash, Taylor, Jax -- reflect this view of independence as isolation? Do you agree with the novel's judgement? How have you, or people you know about, been affected by the cultural celebration of "self-reliance?" Do you think men and women relate differently to this cultural value?

5. In explaining why it's important for the tribe to get Turtle back, Annawake tells Alice, "We've been through a holocaust as devastating as what happened to the Jews, and we need to keep what's left of our family together" (Chp. 27, "Family Stories"). How does the novel go about demonstrating the validity of this comparison? How do you feel about it? How should people living today deal with histories of oppression?

6. The title, Pigs in Heaven , refers to the Cherokee legend about the six bad boys that got turned into pigs before their mother's eyes. Annawake tells this story -- in two entirely different ways -- on page 87 and again on page 313. How does this story, in its two versions, demonstrate the book's theme, and Annawake's growth? In what other ways do pigs enter the story, as symbols of renegade individualism and community spirit?

7. How -- physically and spiritually -- does povery affect people's lives? How does poverty affect Taylor? Does this novel offer a judgement on poor people? On our society's attitudes towards poor people?

8. The novel is divided into three sections: Spring, Summer, and Fall, written in English and Cherokee. What significance for you is there in the fact that the novel is structured according to the cycles of nature, ending during harvest, just short of winter?

9. When Cash shoots his TV at the end, it's a rather complex image. If you think about the other scenes in which TVs and TV-watching figure, or how TV may be said to function in the U.S. culture at large, what possible meanings might his gesture have?

10. Occasionally, readers have felt that Kingsolver's heroines and endings are idealized -- that is, too good to be true. How do you feel about this criticism? First of all, would you agree that this is so in Pigs in Heaven ? Second, do you think that good fiction ought not to idealize its characters or situations?

About the Author: Barbara Kingsolver was born on April 8, 1955. She grew up "in the middle of an alfalfa field," in the part of eastern Kentucky that lies between the opulent horse farms and the impoverished coal fields. While her family has deep roots in the region, she never imagined staying there herself. "The options were limited--grow up to be a farmer or a farmer's wife."

Kingsolver has always been a storyteller: "I used to beg my mother to let me tell her a bedtime story." As a child, she wrote stories and essays and, beginning at the age of eight, kept a journal religiously. Still, it never occurred to Kingsolver that she could become a professional writer. Growing up in a rural place, where work centered mainly on survival, writing didn't seem to be a practical career choice. Besides, the writers she read, she once explained, "were mostly old, dead men. It was inconceivable that I might grow up to be one of those myself . . . "

Kingsolver left Kentucky to attend DePauw University in Indiana, where she majored in biology. She also took one creative writing course, and became active in the last anti-Vietnam War protests. After graduating in 1977, Kingsolver lived and worked in widely scattered places. In the early eighties, she pursued graduate studies in biology and ecology at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where she received a Masters of Science degree. She also enrolled in a writing class taught by author Francine Prose, whose work Kingsolver admires.

Kingsolver's fiction is rich with the language and imagery of her native Kentucky. But when she first left home, she says, "I lost my accent . . . [P]eople made terrible fun of me for the way I used to talk, so I gave it up slowly and became something else." During her years in school and two years spent living in Greece and France she supported herself in a variety of jobs: as an archaeologist, copy editor, X-ray technician, housecleaner, biological researcher and translator of medical documents. After graduate school, a position as a science writer for the University of Arizona soon led her into feature writing for journals and newspapers. Her numerous articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including The Nation, The New York Times, and Smithsonian, and many of them are included in the collection, High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never. In 1986 she won an Arizona Press Club award for outstanding feature writing, and in 1995, after the publication of High Tide in Tucson, Kingsolver was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from her alma mater, De Pauw University.

Kingsolver credits her careers in scientific writing and journalism with instilling in her a writer's discipline and broadening her "fictional possiblities." Describing herself as a shy person who would generally prefer to stay at home with her computer, she explains that "journalism forces me to meet and talk with people I would never run across otherwise."

From 1985 through 1987, Kingsolver was a freelance journalist by day, but she was writing fiction by night. Married to a chemist in 1985, she suffered from insomnia after becoming pregnant the following year. Instead of following her doctor's recommendation to scrub the bathroom tiles with a toothbrush, Kingsolver sat in a closet and began to write The Bean Trees, a novel about a young woman who leaves rural Kentucky (accent intact) and finds herself living in urban Tucson.

The Bean Trees, published by HarperCollins in 1988, and reissued in a special ten-year anniversary hardcover edition in 1998, was enthusiastically received by critics. But, perhaps more important to Kingsolver, the novel was read with delight and, even, passion by ordinary readers. "A novel can educate to some extent," she told Publishers Weekly. "But first, a novel has to entertain--that's the contract with the reader: you give me ten hours and I'll give you a reason to turn every page. I have a commitment to accessiblity. I believe in plot. I want an English professor to understand the symbolism while at the same time I want the people I grew up with--who may not often read anything but the Sears catalogue--to read my books."

For Kingsolver, writing is a form of political activism. When she was in her twenties she discovered Doris Lessing. "I read the Children of Violence novels and began to understand how a person could write about the problems of the world in a compelling and beautiful way. And it seemed to me that was the most important thing I could ever do, if I could ever do that."

The Bean Trees was followed by the collection, Homeland and Other Stories (1989), the novels Animal Dreams (1990), and Pigs in Heaven (1993), and the bestselling High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now and Never (1995). Kingsolver has also published a collection of poetry, Another America: Otra America (Seal Press, 1992, 1998), and a nonfiction book, Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike of l983 (ILR Press/Cornell University Press, 1989, 1996). Her most recent work is The Poisonwood Bible, a story of the wife and four daughters of a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. A tale of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction, over the course of three decades in post-colonial Africa, The Poisonwood Bible is set against one of history's most dramatic political parables. It is a compelling exploration of religion, conscience, imperialist arrogance and the many paths to redemption?and Barbara Kingsolver's most ambitious work ever.

Barbara Kingsolver presently lives outside of Tucson with her husband Steven Hopp, and her two daughters, Camille from a previous marriage, and Lily, who was born in 1996. When not writing or spending time with her family, Barbara gardens, cooks, hikes, works as an environmental activist and human-rights advocate, and plays hand drums and keyboards with her husband, guitarist, Steven Hopp.

Given that Barbara Kingsolver's work covers the psychic and geographical territories that she knows firsthand, readers often assume that her work is autobiographical. "There are little things that people who know me might recognize in my novels," she acknowledges. "But my work is not about me. I don't ever write about real people. That would be stealing, first of all. And second of all, art is supposed to be better than that. If you want a slice of life, look out the window. An artist has to look out that window, isolate one or two suggestive things, and embroider them together with poetry and fabrication, to create a revelation. If we can't, as artists, improve on real life, we should put down our pencils and go bake bread."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 79 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(42)

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(22)

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(9)

2 Star

(5)

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(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 80 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 27, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Surprisingly appealed to my tastes.

    Pigs in Heaven is a book I was really not looking forward to read at all. I chose it for the theme, and going into this I was dreading reading it, as there's nothing worse than having to read a really bad book, but I came out of it with a book that I can definitely call one of my favourites now.
    The real story begins with Taylor Greer on a sort of soul searching trip with her adoptive daughter, Turtle, a six year old girl Taylor was just handed three years earlier. They visit the Hoover Dam, and Turtle witnesses a near death, which lands them in the public eye for saving a man's life. It brings attention to Turtle's heritage, a void adoption, and a sudden battle to sort a girl into one of two cultures under what each think her best interests would be. Along the way, they meet strange characters, both for their gain and detriment, and the story not only follows them but a variety of characters all centered around the same plot. The relationships of every individual character that Kingsolver rotates through each chapter, and the development of their lives in relation to each other, highlights the actuality of personality in comparison to one's perception of themselves and the continuous segregation of culture and races in modern times.
    I can't really think of anything I didn't like about the book. The voice was really well executed, and the story line unlike anything I've read before. Somewhat educational, and research was obviously done to write the novel. One should read this book not for any particular reason than to read. It could aid in perhaps gaining a better understanding of modern segregation, but it's no history lesson.
    And although I tend to gravitate towards the 'New Science Fiction' section of the bookstores I frequent, there is a timeless quality that some books seem to have, this included, where you're not focusing on how it shallowly relates to your own life. You just read it.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2012

    Mithos thinking

    Sits on a rock and thinks about Silence and Jag but mostly Silence. He lets goid memories xome flooding back. He smikes when he thinks about when he restored sight to her.

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2011

    An Annoying and Somewhat Boring Book.

    Possible Spoilers.
    This book is definitely not the worst book out there. It has a lot of great description and characters and in all honesty at points it gets pretty interesting. However, the outcome of the book and the entire premise annoyed me to no end. The entire custody battle was annoying mostly because I felt more sympathy towards Taylor than Annawake, probably with the way things were presented between the two. The ending was far too disappointing for my taste as a result.
    Barbara Kingslover's writing is fine. It is beautiful and nobody can argue that. However, at one point when you're being told all the flowers in a field someone is passing by, you get really bored. I know I did. The over enthusiastic description is unnecessary a lot of the time. If you are one of those people that likes fast-paced storylines or a story with more dialogue than description, this is certainly not a book for you.
    Overall, it was not a great book. If I didn't have to read it for school I would have stopped reading it within the first cumbersome chapter. The story drags on and the long paragraph descriptions make you wonder how anyone could get through this book in the first place.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 12, 2011

    Great book

    Loved this book as much as I did Bean Trees!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 17, 2009

    Pigs Really Can Fly in Kingsolver's world!

    Kingsolver weaves the characters into a story that is unforgetable, building on culture of the localities involved. Great reading for pleasure and learning about differences.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    More Turtle, Please!

    What a wonderful follow-up to The Bean Trees! With Turtle finally settled with her "adoptive" mom, Taylor, officials from the Cherokee nation threaten her security. Taylor flees Tuscon, trying to make a safe home for Turtle, but she cannot run away from her sense of responsibility for Turtle's heritage. While swept away in this wonderful novel, I also found myself learning things about the history of Native Americans, and the horrible treatment they received from the white culture. An amazing book that I wanted to go on and on. Any chance of a sequel?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2007

    A reviewer

    The story of Taylor and Turtle continues but it doesn't feel the same this go round. Not a bad book just not as good as the first... Sorry.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2005

    This is a really good book to read.

    I think this is a really good story for people who usually don't read. Its easy to follow the more you get into it. It's kind of sad at first and then at the end it all comes together to be a really good novel. I don't really read much but I couldn't put this book down. It had intresting characters in the story that you become to like because of how they handle certain situations. This is a really good book to read if you like to know a little about the Cherokee culture.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2004

    Great

    This book was much better than the first book 'The Bean Tree' it has drama, action and keeps your interest page after page. Barbara Kingslover did a wonderful job.This is a must read book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2014

    Pigs in Heaven, the sequel to The Bean Trees, is a great book to

    Pigs in Heaven, the sequel to The Bean Trees, is a great book to read. It keeps you on your toes and wanting to know what happens next. Taylor has very interesting and unique relationships with her daughter Turtle, her mother Alice, and her boyfriend Jax. They aren’t the “typical” relationships but that’s what made it such an amazing book. While reading the book I thought about what was the “right” thing to do? Should Turtle have been raised by someone from her culture/ background or raised by Taylor? Taylor may not have the same nationality, but loves Turtle and cares for her no matter what. At the end of the novel, the answer about what happens to Turtle isn’t completely defined, but it keeps you thinking. I loved the way the characters are revealed in the story. One example is, like the loneliness, and lack of success to keep healthy relationships, that were clear about Alice. Alice’s marriage with Harland gives judgment into her life of love troubles. While reading further into the book the reader gets a sense of community when Taylor and her mother Alice, visit the Cherokee town Heaven. Everyone knows everyone else's family history, children, and especially gossip. The author stresses how important being close family is in her description of the neighborhoods in the small town of Heaven. "It was Roscoe's mama's homestead land, sixty acres. Every one of them got sixty acres, back in the allotments. Most of them sold it or give it away, or got it stole out from them in some way. I don't know why she didn't, probably didn't get no offers. So we ended up here. When the kids each one got big, we told them to find a place to set a trailer house and go ahead” (page 221). A huge theme in this novel would definitely be the importance of family because it ties all of the characters together.

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  • Posted June 20, 2013

    Loved it!

    This is the second book I have read by Barbara Kingsolver, choosing it because I liked the other one. I was not disappointed. Although at times the story is almost...I say ALMOST...unbelievable, it was an amazing read. She is a master story-teller. Read it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2013

    One of my faves

    I loved this book. It is preceded by "The Bean Trees" and continues the saga of a Native American baby adopted by a well meaning but down on her luck white woman. In this story, inter racial and inter cultural issues are raised on the one hand while on the other it is a heartfelt story of loving relationships. I only wish Ms Kingsolver had continued the story of Turtle in yet a third novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2013

    Ccccccccocoa::):):):):)

    Me toooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!@#$%&*-+(!"':;/,):):):):):):)

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2012

    Crystal

    I AM very please that the other took out so much time to write this book my favorite part was when lidia was LOCKED OUT OF the dungan because the pig took the keys and ran away ALL BOOKS should be just like this one SOME ONE HELP ME

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2012

    To anno

    I kessage d u

    0 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2012

    Haliey

    Hi

    0 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A great story.

    This is one of those great struggles of right, wrong, and what is best for a person. Turtle the young girl who was illegally adopted is an Indian. The tribe has a great responsibility to this child who was adopted by a white woman. Her new Mom is a great Mom. The struggle is when an Indian attorney discovers the mistake. The dilemma of right and wrong pulls every reader in different directions. It's a great story of quirky people trying to do what is right, but so heartbreaking you can hardly put the book down.

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  • Posted March 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Eh

    It was kind of boring and there were entire paragraphs that I skipped. It was redeemed though by the ecentric characters and the parts that made me laugh out loud.

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  • Posted March 1, 2009

    Wonderful Read

    After having read The Bean Tree I couldn't wait to read this book! It brings Taylor and Turtle closer as they share their relationship with Jax, Taylor's devoted boyfriend.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2005

    Pigs in Heaven

    Pigs in Heaven is a story of hope, love and inspiration. Taylor Greer, a devoted mother, lives in Tucson, AZ and raises an adopted child, Turtle. While visiting the Hoover Dam, Turtle sees someone struggling in the water below. Their heroic efforts to save the man bring them national attention (an appearance on a popular talk show) and unwanted questions about Turtle¿s adoption status. Annawake Fourkiller, a Cherokee lawyer, immediately recognizes the heritage of Turtle, and suspects her adoption was done illegally. ICWA requires tribal approval for adoptions to non-tribal members. This did not happen in Turtle¿s case. Because of this investigation, Taylor goes on the run with Turtle to Seattle and ultimately to a nearby Native American community. There are many numerous and touching events on their journey. This story is based on the life of a loving mother who goes to extreme measures to keep from being separated from her adopted daughter, who she views as her own. After reading this book, I felt like I knew the characters personally and was concerned about their well-being. I formed a bond with Taylor and supported her actions as a mother. This novel is an emotional and heartfelt story of the cultural differences.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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