Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Cavedweller” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  3,099 ratings  ·  219 reviews
When Delia Byrd packs up her old Datsun and her daughter Cissy and gets on the Santa Monica Freeway heading south and east, she is leaving everything she has known for ten years: the tinsel glitter of the rock 'n' roll world; her dreams of singing and songwriting; and a life lived on credit cards and whiskey with a man who made promises he couldn't keep. Delia Byrd is goin ...more
ebook, 448 pages
Published May 1st 1999 by Plume Books (first published January 1st 1998)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Cavedweller, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Cavedweller

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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
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
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
The writing was beautiful and the characters were interesting. I liked the way they weren't perfect, how everything didn't work out perfectly in the end, however it did just kind of end in an anticlimactic way, like life just kept trucking along after the last page. Nothing was really resolved and everyone would continue working out their problems. Like a window into the life of the characters rather than a well constructed story. By the second half of the book the author is skipping ahead years ...more
This starts with a compelling idea, but Allison gets lost in the tangential elements of the narrative.
Nancy Doerrer
Delia Byrd leaves CA after her semi-rock star lover Randall is killed in a motorcycle accident. Randall "Saved" Delia from a life of abuse from her former husband, Clint. But Delia left behind her two daughters in GA to become a singer in Randall's rock band. Driving cross-country with nothing to her name but a young rebellious daughter Crissy by Randall, Delia returns to GA to reclaim her two daughters---now teenagers. But the only way she can claim them is to strike a deal with Clint to care f ...more
Having a hard time putting it his down!
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
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
Lisa Ann 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
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
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
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
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
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • My Dangerous Desires: A Queer Girl Dreaming Her Way Home
  • Hot, Throbbing Dykes to Watch Out For (DtWOF, #7)
  • The Passionate Mistakes and Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America
  • S/He
  • Cool for You
  • What Night Brings
  • After Delores
  • My Sisters Made of Light
  • Massacre of the Dreamers: Essays on Xicanisma
  • Hood
  • More of This World or Maybe Another
  • Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman
  • Allegra Maud Goldman
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 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

Share This Book