In Hovering Flight Paperback – Aug 2 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
In this provocative and page-turning debut novel, Hinnefeld (Tell Me Everything and Other Stories) recounts the life of bird-lover, environmental activist and artist Addie Sturmer Kavanagh. Opening with Addie's death from cancer, and her troublesome dying wish—clear orders for a brazenly illegal burial—Hinnefeld's narrative migrates to Addie's days as a college art student, when she fell in love with birds and with the professor teaching her their biology, Tom Kavanagh. The early years of Addie and Tom's romance follows their birding and collaboration on an environmental, antiwar birding book destined to become a classic. Soon enough, though, the birth of their daughter, Scarlet, along with Addie's growing political and environmental awareness, relegate romance to the back seat. As Addie's creative vision shifts from avian homage to political tirade, the effects of her outspoken eco-outrage on her daughter, husband and two closest girlfriends are predictable but authentic, and at times moving. Hinnefeld's drama soars, especially in its depiction of Addie's complicated relationship with Scarlet, who's also trying to find her wings. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"One to look out for: a rare, delicate novel...You can't help but be caught up in the way Hinnefeld portrays their hunger for winged creatures, and for each other...lovely." --Ron Charles, The Washington Post Book World "Engaging, smart." --The San Francisco Chronicle "Rich...interesting and intricate...highly original."--Dallas Morning News "[An] elegiac first novel...replete with plotlines, three dimensional characters, and multiple themes. That both makes it a candidate for multiple readings -- each time through you're likely to find something new to appreciate -- and a difficult book to review...a love story, or a tale about the complicated relationship between mothers and daughters, or the choices cancer forces upon you. Others may see it as the story of longtime friendships between women, or the development of an eco-activist. In truth, Hinnefeld is writing about all of these things, and she weaves them together seamlessly, in prose that is both poetic and understated...Hinnefeld not only knows birds and their songs, she understands how relationships change, both subtly and overtly, how love matures, how daughters grow up, how mothers die, and how, in the end, the reality of change is all we have to hold on to."--Nancy Pearl, KUOW and Pearl's Picks "A rich first novel about love, loss, and the fragile beauty of nature...Particularly notable for its engrossing details about bird life... moving."--Library Journal, starred review "A worthwhile read...Even if you don't normally read character dramas such as this, give it a shot. I was glad I did."--Birder's Library "A reverence for motherhood and the environment pervades Hinnefeld's quite sad novel, her first. That and the importance of finding a way to keep fighting from the grave."--The New York Times Book Review "Provocative and page-turning...Hinnefeld's drama soars..." --Publishers Weekly "A compelling and mysterious novel." --Ursula Hegi "I loved Joyce Hinnefeld's debut novel In Hovering Flight so much that I'm at a loss for the right words to adequately portray it. How to describe this unusual novel that is part field notes of a radical environmentalist, part ornithology lecture (complete with beautiful Latin names for birds like Zenaida Macroura, more commonly known as Mourning Dove), part unconventional love story, and part confessional? In a word--breathtaking."--The Internet Review of Books "Elegant and entrancing."--Feminist Review.orgSee all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Author: Joyce Hinnefeld
Publisher: Unbridled Books
'In Hovering Flight' is an impressive debut novel about relationships. Relationships between lovers, friends and children. Addie Sturmer begins school studying to become a teacher, shortly before graduating she throws caution out the window and decides to paint and study birds. She no longer wants the stability of a teaching degree. One class seems to change the course of her life. She falls in love with her married professor, waits for his inevitable divorce and marries him shortly after. She gives birth to their daughter and together they follow their passions. Standing beside her are her best friends Cora and Lou.
The novel begins with Addie succumbing from her second bout with cancer. After refusing treatment her daughter Scarlet has come to say goodbye. Addie has chosen to die at the home of her best friend Cora, afraid to taint the history of their home together and wanting to be surrounded by her friends. Cora, Lou, Scarlet and Tom reminisce about their final moments with Addie. Scarlet had the only parents who voluntarily worked on weekends and every chance they had.Their work was very much a part of their lives. They did not have a 9-5 job that they left at the office. Her father, a respected Ornithologist and mother a well known artist and environmentalist. Scarlet grew up feeling secondary in her parents lives. She never felt like she was their primary concern and her relationships with them became strained. She was named after a bird her mother loved to paint. Through conversations, memories and her mothers field journals, Scarlet begins to understand the woman she called her mother. The woman she felt was so different.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
debut novel--it's clearly the start of what will be a brilliant career for her.
Bird lovers will appreciate the poetic voice Joyce Hinnefeld lends to the descriptions of the patient wait in the woods to see a scarlet tanger, a wood thrush or a beautiful cardinal, and the mysterious deciphering of a bird song heard in the distance. I've actually gone to Cape May birding during fall migration and this story captures the wonder of it all...
It's a beautifully written story. One that you may find yourself reading passages from again just to revisit the beauty of nature....
I was privileged to receive a review copy of this from the publisher to share my opinion with my readers of my blog, Chick with Books.
The novel opens on the day Addie has passed away from breast cancer, with daughter Scarlet, husband Tom, and dear friends Cora and Lou in attendance. Told through Addie's field journals and multiple points-of-view, In Hovering Flight portrays the evolution of an earnest college student into a protest artist and activist, through the stages of love, motherhood, and friendship that define her. Because Hinnefeld often uses indirect characterization, through the experiences and reactions of the other characters, Addie remains somewhat unknowable, even by the end, contributing to the central mystery of the novel: Who was Addie, and why did she choose the paths she did?
The best novels offer wisdom, even if it is a quiet truth, and this novel does not disappoint. In Hovering Flight is a celebration of birds, love, and art. I highly recommend this book to readers of literary and women's fiction. Its hauntingly beautiful story will stay with you long after you have finished the last sentence.
-- Debbie Lee Wesselmann
The tale begins immediately after Addie's second bout with cancer and her death after refusing traditional treatment. At the home of best friend, Cora, Addie draws her last breath, surrounded by her loved ones, Tom, her daughter, Scarlet, Cora and the third member of an unbreakable trio, Lou. Never conventional, Addie has requested an unusual solution for her remains, perhaps illegal, the family sorting through the inevitable complications of fulfilling her wishes. Grieving, Scarlet listens as Cora, Lou and Tom reminisce, searching for answers about an enigmatic mother whose early enthusiasm for her chosen career is later sidetracked by the despoiling of the environment, her embrace of lively winged creatures turned to obsession with the dead and dying birds that reflect a poisoned land. It is this complex, inscrutable mother with whom Scarlet seeks finally to make her peace.
While Hinnefeld's prose attempts to soar above the petty dramas of marriage, family, career and society's abominable environmental failures, the curious, inspired Addie of the first part of the novel is, by the end, an embittered, intractable and tedious Janie-one-note. Her response to the unfairness of life is shrill and angry, her art focused on dead birds at the same time she battles cancer. Tom's constant adoration and Scarlet's ambivalence about her mother cannot rise above the image of a talented woman grown cynical and disappointed. In spite of the love affair between these two east coast ornithologists, there is a palpable lack of passion, the author failing to garner even my reluctant sympathy for these characters, Addie, Tom and Scarlet as remote as the campus where Tom teaches. Weighed down by time and circumstance, Addie remains tethered to the earth. Luan Gaines/2008.