Review: The Behaviour of Moths

In The Behaviour of Moths the I-narrator Ginny (Virginia), a lepidopterist, is living in her crumbling family mansion Bulbarrow. In the here and now of the novel she is waiting for her estranged sister Vivi (Vivienne) to arrive after a nearly 50 year long absence. Vivienne returns and with her Virginia´s memories of their relationship and her family.
The actual events taking place in the present of the story only span three days, the rest is filled with Ginny´s memories. Through her eyes the reader learns of the sister´s bond, their parents and how they came to stay apart for such a long time.

The Behaviour of Moths does not offer a lot of plot or action, this is not a novel of grand gestures! However I did not find the pace too slow because of it. Adam´s novel is quite atmospheric and gripping in quietly creepy way. From the very beginning Ginny´s narrative is darkly foreboding but, although there seems to be something off about her, she remains an interesting and not unlikable character, and I had to keep reminding myself that Giny is an unreliable narrator.

I had a great time reading this book. Both sisters were a puzzle in their own right, very different from each other, and I´m always interested in reading about bonds between sisters (maybe because I only have a brother). The ending is not perfect, I thought some aspects were left unsatisfactorily open, although the end of the relationship between Ginny and Vivi is very well-done. For a first-time author this is very well-written, and I like that Poppy Adams did a lot of research about moths, the parts about lepidoptery are fascinating and I think the analogies she draws about the behaviour of moths and that of the sisters are very interesting.

I´ll cautiously compare this book to Shirley Jackson´s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Of course Jackson´s work is a masterpiece and perfectly constructed (in my humble, completely subjective opinion), but with The Behaviour of Moth, Adams follows in the tradition of atmospheric, psychological stories with an unreliable narrator and the bond of two sisters at the center, and I like to think that, if she continues writing, Poppy Adams might reach Jackson´s level.

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3 thoughts on “Review: The Behaviour of Moths

  1. Beautiful review! It is interesting that the story compares the behaviour of moths with the relationship between the two sisters. Must be fascinating!

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