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Dorothy Allison
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3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  3,471 Ratings  ·  240 Reviews
When Delia Byrd packs her car and begins the long trip home from the rock & roll business and LA, she heads to Cayro, Georgia, and her past. Ten years earlier, she had left the husband who turned on her, abandoned her two daughters, and fled to California. But Delia is pulled back to Georgia -- to a world of convenience stores and kudzu, of biscuit factories and deeply ...more
Published by Dutton (first published January 1st 1998)
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Dec 05, 2007 Grace rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007
I love and admire Dorothy Allison. Both her non-fiction work (Skin, Two or Three Things I Know for Sure) and her fiction (Trash, Bastard out of Carolina) is extremely impressive on an intellectual level, as well as deeply moving on a gut level. So I expected no less from Cavedweller, her second novel. And I'm sure it is only because I went in to reading it with such very high expectations that it was disappointing.

Cavedweller is a very good book. It's just not as good a book as Allison's other b
Jun 23, 2012 Molly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was difficult to digest, but maybe that was for the same reason that it was so entrancing. Cavedweller is a book about women. Several generations of women who are all tied to a central character who, you realize as the book unfolds, had to make difficult choices. But, I related, or at least sympathized. What would you do if you had children with an abusive husband? What would you do when the next husband was a drug and alcohol addict? The story begins in the turmoil after she had made ...more
Jun 26, 2008 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had never heard of Dorothy Allision before, but I am so glad that I know of her now. I think she is a really smart author with important things to say. I started out really loving this book and not being able to put it down. Unfourtunately, towards the end I felt like the plot kind of fell apart and things began to get cheesy and predictable, almost like Allison had run out of creative steam. It is a very epic novel, in that it covers a long period of time, and the characters really go on a jo ...more
Apr 06, 2015 Gretel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Dorothy Allison's stories. I love the strong women she brings to life, the contexts she weaves around them, and her writing's descriptive power. I took a long time to finish this book, mostly because I didn't want to say goodbye to Delia and her girls. I found the spelunking passages especially compelling.
Sarah Beth
Ten years before, Delia Byrd left behind her abusive husband Clint and her two baby girls Amanda and Dede to follow the aspiring rockstar Randall. Randall and Delia find fame, alcoholism, and have a baby girl together, Cissy. After Randall drinks himself into an early grave, Delia packs up her youngest daughter and leaves California to return to Georgia to try to make amends for abandoning her two oldest daughters.

After Delia gets her girls back, the thread of the novel seems to split into five
Jun 02, 2009 mia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fic-lit
really probably 2 1/2. and i genuinely thought for awhile about giving it 3 stars, but i just couldn't do it.
where i talk about dorothy allison:
i thought Bastard Out of Carolina was amazing. this last book of hers that i read was NOT. and i don't know if i can gague an author opinion on two books. i obviously have to read another one to make a tie breaker. ugh. the book just flat out annoyed me. it was full of tangent after tangent. and it would be one thing if the book was following a FAMILY w
Sep 05, 2016 Miriam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the rhythm of this one. I liked the characters.

Overall, it's a bit choppy. Any one of the threads--the drive across the country, caring for Clint, Dede and Nolan, Cissy and the cave--could have been a whole novel. She doesn't dwell too long on any one incident or story (kind of like Delia!). There's a lot of death and despair and mistakes and betrayal, and all of it described really well and carefully. It's not rushed, but she doesn't linger.

Sometimes people aren't perfect. They make mis
Mar 31, 2009 Kevin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved Bastard Out of Carolina when I read it years ago in college, then really devoured Trash (short stories), Skin (critical theory) and at least loved the title of her poetry book, "The Women Who Hate Me." I bought Cavedweller in 1998, then promptly put it down after two pages.

Picked it up again last week. It's fine. Crafted like a page-turner, which it is and I know it was a bestseller, but it just left me disappointed. (Don't get me started on fears that if I read Bastard now I'll feel tha
Apr 04, 2009 Lfineberg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book late into the night because I found the characters fascinating (yet frustrating), and wanted to know what was going to happen next. There were parts at the end that kind of dragged, so it took me longer to read than most books, but overall it was a great story about how people cope with various life events. Although it wasn't the central focus, these lives were examples of how a tragedy and/or tragedies in the lives of young people, when not addressed, can recreate themselves in ...more
Sep 02, 2014 Hannah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer
Somehow didn't enter this one back when I read it, but I love-love-loved it. This piece, I thought, was how I feel about the ocean:

"Caving for her, Cissy understood, was like sex for most people. Though what other people thought about sex was nothing Cissy really understood. But in the dark she became for the first time fully conscious of her own body and curiously unself-conscious. Unseen, she moved freely. In the dark her body moved precisely, steadily, each foot placed exactly, while her hips
Sep 23, 2007 Nomy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
the thing i really loved about this book is the way she showed the characters going through profound life changes and basically becoming different people. that's something that happens in real life that you don't usually get to see in novels.
Melody Ulrich
After being floored and inspired by Bastard out of Carolina, I was seriously disappointed by the contrived mood of this book. Allison is trying too hard and almost forces these characters on the reader.
Doriana Bisegna
I was really enjoying this book by about pg 300 and then I just felt that it went on and on and on! I had planned to give it a 4 star rating but the length started to grate on my nerves. All in all a very good story about a dysfunctional family but just a tad too long!
Dec 27, 2013 Tabatha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
There was a little too much religion in this book for my taste. That would have been entirely fine but it's not what I was looking for. There was also too much random information about stuff that just didn't matter. That being said it was just an ok read.
Jun 29, 2012 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having a hard time putting it his down!
Jul 15, 2009 Anders rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This starts with a compelling idea, but Allison gets lost in the tangential elements of the narrative.
I should have read Bastard Out Of Carolina first.

Well, I’m a rebel. One who listens to the worst reviewed albums of artists, watches the camp classics of actor’s shame, and reads books out of the 'intended' sequence of an author's cache. It’s what I do. Still there is always a 50/50 percent chance that the unsung work is better than the touted one, so I gave Cavedweller a go. I've read some of Dorothy Allison’s work before, like her essays and her short story "I'm Working On My Charm, and I fin
Mar 20, 2017 Rainbowgardener rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written generational story about a woman growing up in a dysfunctional family and the effects on her and her three daughters. The characters are vivid, well developed, and keep growing and changing through the novel. They are all strong women who keep on coping with all the difficulties that life throws them, each in her own way. As other people have noted, it does tend to fall apart at the end, gets more sentimental and more fragmented between all the characters.
Kat B.
Nov 05, 2016 Kat B. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dorthy Allison is amazing. Her writing builds a believable world full of interesting characters. Her knack for dialogue that reads like real conversation is admirable. This story spreads across the span of about 10 years. While developing characters she manages to move the story along through events and problems that kept me hooked. The ending was one of my favorites. Definitely recommend!!!
Malia Moriarty
Feb 17, 2017 Malia Moriarty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story was a nice change of pace. gripping, interesting, and meaningful
Aug 14, 2007 Mikol is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Mom leaves abusive relationship and leaves children behind. Becomes a hollywood rockstar. Returns to Cayro, GA to see kids again.

This one will get a strong recommendation when I'm done with it.

I picked this up along with one of her other books, "Bastard out of Carolina". This one had personal relevance, so I started it first.

My mom "ran away from home". I would see her next 13 years later. I never asked her, "Why did you do that?". Another question, deeper than that would be, "What went through
Oct 01, 2011 Nelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cavedweller was disappointing because I expected so much from it, but it's a pretty OK book nonetheless. Dorothy Allison is a talented writer and although I don't think it's fair to compare Cavedweller to Bastard Out of Carolina because they are two very different works, as a stand-alone novel this wasn't the best of the best, but just barely acceptable.

My biggest complaint is how slow the story was. It was interesting, just veeeeeerrrryyy slooooooowwwww. There were times I thought about quitti
Cavedweller tells the story of a mother and her three daughters living in Cayro, Georgia. The mother, Delia, ran away from Georgia to escape her abusive husband, which also meant leaving her two daughters, Amanda and Dede, behind. In the 10 years that she as away, Delia built a new life for herself in Los Angeles, which including joining a band, becoming a famous singer/songwriter, and having a third daughter, Cissy. However, even though she saved herself from the abuse, Delia was overwhelmed wi ...more
Nov 30, 2013 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For some reason, I could never get past the opening of this book, until finally I decided that was dumb, and I was bound to enjoy this as much as the author's other books if I would just give it a chance. Happily, that turned out to be true: I am glad that I finally read this. I am embarrassed to admit that the title is part of what kept me from reading it all those years, and having now read it, I still don't like the title, so I am not as embarrassed as I should be. Also, I have a little naggi ...more
Stephanie Holcomb
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kat Masek
I liked this novel, and I wanted to liked it more than I did. It is ambitious, and the plot line has a strange shape because Allison tries to do so much, I guess. Perhaps I haven't quite figured it out, and maybe I won't because I don't think it's completely successful. Though the title is "Cavedweller" in the singular, only one of the main characters, one of the protagonist Delia's daughters becomes a spelunker. So surely the author must be referring to Delia, as well. And the characters in the ...more
Lisa Gallagher
I remember liking this book a whole lot more when I first read it, 15 years ago.

There's some good stuff here in this story of a rode-hard singer who returns to the small Georgia town where she once abandoned 2 young daughters, along with her youngest child, born when she was in California.

The first half of the book deals with Delia, who has just found sobriety and returns to Cayro, Georgia to finally fight for the daughters she had to leave behind.

The second half of the book is more about her yo
Sondra Wolferman
Delia, the recently widowed wife of a B-list rock star who died in a motorcycle crash, decides to leave sunny California with her eleven-year old daughter and head back east to her roots in rural Georgia, where she abandoned two children from a previous marriage before running away to join the rock band of her late husband. She drives across country in a jalopy with the precocious eleven-year-old, Cissy, hoping to reunite her family and settle down in the small town of her childhood. Upon arriva ...more
Amber Morrell
I was, overall, disappointed by this book. The climax for me was around page 200, and for the following 200 pages I felt like I kept reading because I hate putting a book down in the middle. Unlike Bastard out of Carolina, which I thoroughly recommend, Cavedweller did not have one major theme or message. It seemed rather scattered and trying to make a whole bunch of assumptions about life, death, and love all at once. Furthermore, it read like a first draft; there were numerous occasions where C ...more
Dec 04, 2009 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Allison is just a great writer--a feminist, good at character-building, descriptive detail and great plots. Her focus is on the "white trash" (her self-description) from the South that she came from, and her women characters are fighters, never just victims, although some of them are pretty unlikeable and nasty to others. Her male characters arent quite as believable as her women, but in this book Cavedrellers, her portrait of the abusive husband and father is really quite amazing in portraying ...more
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Dorothy Allison is an American writer, speaker, and member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Themes in Allison's work include class struggle, child and sexual abuse, women, lesbianism, feminism, and family.

Allison's first novel, the semi-autobiographical Bastard Out of Carolina, was published in 1992 and was one of five finalists for the 1992 National Book Award.

Allison founded The Independe
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