Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingslover

Returning to the theme of positive-spirited entertainment, I’d like to recommend another book by Barbara Kingslover: Pigs in Heaven. It was a real pleasure to read a story about fundamentally decent people, even if the happy endings which they had coming were quite apparent early on. I found it rather comforting, and the book left me with this sentiment that, of course, life is not a novel, but really what is there to stop us all from behaving decently and enjoying our happy endings?

Kingslover has a knack for intimate stories that incorporate bigger themes, social, sometimes political issues. Some time ago I’ve written about my admiration for The Lacuna. Pigs in Heaven is Kingslover’s earlier novel, published in the early nineties. Thinking about it in retrospect, it strikes me as not as layered and complex as The Lacuna, nor as the book that Kingslover is best known for, The Poisonwood Bible. The social theme is rendered here with less subtlety and the narrative is not as strong either. Nonetheless, reading Pigs in Heaven, I was very much captivated and I enjoyed the ride from start to finish. I especially enjoyed how the protagonists had clashing agendas, but none of them were evil or even ruthless. Rather, they interpreted the good in different ways, and I sort of rooted for each and every one of them at same time. And the author made it worth my while giving them all a resolution.

By the way, only afterwards I discovered that Pigs in Heaven is a sequel to Kinglsover’s first novel, The Bean Trees. So if you want to meet the strong ladies of the Greer family, you might want to start with this one. I still have to get around to it.

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