Dorothy Allison
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3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  2,901 ratings  ·  203 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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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...more
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
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
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...more
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...more
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...more
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
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.
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.
Bastard Out of Carolina is a book that stole my heart away, and so I have to admit that I had extremely high expectations for Cavedweller. Probably too high, which is totally unfair. So I'll just say: This book felt like two books, not one. The first half is really in-the-moment in a particular place in time and felt like a solid story by itself. The second half just sort of zipped through about 10 years, which felt sort of disorienting to me and like a separate book. I was a little disappointed...more
This starts with a compelling idea, but Allison gets lost in the tangential elements of the narrative.
Having a hard time putting it his down!
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
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...more
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...more
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
Kate (sleepy kitten)
Delia Byrd is a woman running from the past yet the death of her ex partner see's her heading back. Her 10 year old daughter Cissy worshipped her recently deceased father and has no desire to be dragged towards the two sisters she has always known about and never met. Uprooting from California to Cayro (in the deep south)Delia drives a half dead car and uncooperative daughter until she reaches her unemotional Gradnfather Byrds house.
The desertion of their mother, being left with their violent f...more
Althea Ann
I picked this up after having read Allison's most famous work, Bastard out of Carolina, which was one of the most harrowing emotional reading experiences I have ever had. This book is not nearly so rough to read, but it is still a cutting, insightful and frank exploration of the small-town lives of people often dismissed as "white trash." Not my usual favorite topic, but Allison is an absorbing and talented writer, really able to draw the reader in.
I am STILL impatiently waiting for Allison's pr...more
It's the characters, and especially Delia's daughters, Cissy, Amanda and Dede, that make this novel a good read. Each of their personal trials and heartaches are richly portrayed and deeply felt. At times the novel felt a little long. The original conflict of the mother trying to reclaim and reconnect with her children, is resolved relatively early on in the novel, but I appreciated watching the characters evolve and reconcile themselves to the hurts and tragedies of their lives. Also, the descr...more
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
I had a hard time getting in to this one and almost put it down and quit reading it, which I rarely do. However, my 10 year old picked it out for me to read and I didn't want to hurt his feelings so I stuck with it. Towards the middle, I got a bit more in to it and kept going back and forth between not wanting to put it down on certain chapters, to just wishing it was over already in other chapters.

I didn't like how the author would just give little snippets of back story throughout the book, n...more
Jesse Nolan
I was surprised at how good this book was. I might have said this about other books I have posted, but this book was literally the last book on the bookshelf and I was forced to read it due to a lack of other available options. The plot of the book follows the life choices of Delia, a single mother who abandons two young daughters she had with an abusive husband in Cayro, Georgia. Delia gets picked up on the road by a singer in a band, who she then falls for and moves to California with. She has...more
Cavedweller is a novel filled with strong women, but these women are strong because they have been hardened by life. Despite that, the women are ultimately sympathetic. Allison tells the story of these women mostly through dialogue which is believable and at times lyrical, and each of the women is unique in not only voice but in how she deals with loss, pain, and anger. While there are some key men are the cause of the women's pain or were just weak, fortunately Allison didn't feel the need to d...more
This was my first read by Dorothy Allison, and I thought it was an excellent novel. Romance, tragedy, insanity, all made real and tangible by Allison's wonderful writing. She writes the characters so beautifully, I felt like they were real people telling what seems like ordinary family stories, but the way Allison writes makes these stories suddenly important and moving and terribly exciting. I loved how the book's focus changed from Delia to each of her daughters. I loved everything about it. W...more
Gritty and guttural narrative that captures the essence of redemption. Not about music but about prose, Allison composes passages built upon ethereal images of the sung blues - "When Nolan played for her, Cissy felt like a Baptist child at a Catholic mass - intimidated, awed and suspicious. It was gorgeous and scary. The melodies, almost recognizable or fully familiar but extraordinary at the same time, sometimes sent shocks through her nervous system... Baking-powder memories rose with the casc...more
Melissa Rice
I both loved and hated the characters in this book, but regardless of how I felt about them, I was totally drawn into their story. It reminds me a bit of the "Ya Ya" books, but there is far less humor, and more raw emotion. This is a "gritty" story on a number of levels, and there were times I felt emotionally flayed by what the main characters were going through. This author also wrote "Bastard Out of Carolina," which I'll now add to my "to read" list.
Another "soap opera" book. I'm just not into this type of fiction. Once again, I finished it only to get to the ending and see how everyone's crazy life turned out. Was left with a "so that's it?" feeling when I closed the book.
I liked this book, and I almost "really liked it". I would have given it a 3.5 if that was possible to do on Goodreads. I especially enjoyed the first half of the book, and although the second half "held up", the tone and focus of the book changed. The character focus shifted from Delia's story to the story of her daughters, and I would have appreciated more of Delia's story. I liked the way in which the metaphor of the caving supported the evolving character of Delia's daugher, Cissy. The autho...more
Krista Danis
Jul 05, 2008 Krista Danis rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those looking for a novel to inform theory
There are so many parallels between Cavedweller and Bastard out of Carolina. The complexities of motherhood remains a striking commonality for both novels, as well as race, class, gender, religion, the rural white south, and abuse. Though this seems like alot to tackle in one novel, Allison is successful because she highlights the multi-faceted nuances of location and identity.

Initially unimpressed, I found myself sobbing on the couch at 4am, unable to part from the pages of this lengthy novel....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...more
More about Dorothy Allison...
Bastard Out of Carolina Trash Two or Three Things I Know for Sure Skin: Talking about Sex, Class and Literature Bastard Out of Carolina / Two or Three Things I Know For Sure

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