Book Beginnings & The Friday 56: Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading. You can also share from a book you want to highlight just because it caught your fancy.

I’ve borrowed Demon Copperhead from the library and I’ve started reading it – even though I’m currently in the middle of two other books. As it’s had such good reviews, I’m a bit worried that it won’t live up to all the hype for me. It’s a retelling of David Copperfield, which I read earlier this year.

My Book Beginning:

First, I got myself born. A decent crowd was on hand to watch, and they’ve always given me that much: the worst of the job was up to me, my mother being let’s just say out of it.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an eBook), find one or more interesting sentences (no spoilers), and post them.

Page 56:

Finally Miss Barks turned round with her elbow on the back of the seat and said let’s talk about where we are going. I’d be staying with a gentleman named Mr Crickson that took kids for short-term only. He had boys there now. The Cricksons had been regular fosters until his wife passed away, and now he just took in the odd hardship case.

So, I’m guessing Miss Barks and Mr Crickson are the equivalent characters of Mr Barkis and Mr Creakle in David Copperfield. I have a feeling I should not approach this book as a retelling of David Copperfield, or I’ll be forever comparing the two and not really reading it as a book in its own right, as it were.


Demon’s story begins with his traumatic birth to a single mother in a single-wide trailer, looking ‘like a little blue prizefighter.’ For the life ahead of him he would need all of that fighting spirit, along with buckets of charm, a quick wit, and some unexpected talents, legal and otherwise.

In the southern Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, poverty isn’t an idea, it’s as natural as the grass grows. For a generation growing up in this world, at the heart of the modern opioid crisis, addiction isn’t an abstraction, it’s neighbours, parents, and friends. ‘Family’ could mean love, or reluctant foster care. For Demon, born on the wrong side of luck, the affection and safety he craves is as remote as the ocean he dreams of seeing one day. The wonder is in how far he’s willing to travel to try and get there.

Suffused with truth, anger and compassion, Demon Copperhead is an epic tale of love, loss and everything in between.


What do you think? Have you read it, or are you going to read it? Do you like books that retell classics?

15 thoughts on “Book Beginnings & The Friday 56: Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

  1. That’s an interesting idea, to retell David Copperfield that way, Margaret. It sounds as though it could be a good story in its own right, and I think you’re being wise to consider reading it as it is, and not comparing it to the Dickens. It’s hard not to, but still… At any rate, I hope you’re enjoying it!

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  2. I haven’t actually read David Copperfield (yet, I am planning it at some point) but this sounds super intriguing. I really like how Kingsolver writes her characters, so I wonder what she does with a character that is already so famous. I do really like the tone of the book though. I hope you have a lovely weekend 🙂
    Juli @ A Universe in Words

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Freda. I have read on a little further than the opening pages and so far I’m not sure I want to finish it. I’ll a bit more before deciding.


  3. Not for me. Generally speaking retellings and updatings just annoy me. I can’t see why authors don’t create their own stories rather than using other people’s. Hope you enjoy it, though! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can understand that. I have read some retellings, prequels and sequels that just don’t live up to the original story. So, I’m hoping this won’t be one of those. But, I have read on a little further than the opening pages and so far I’m not sure I want to finish it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve not read a retelling of a classic before, I’m not sure how I feel about them. Retellings of fairy tales is expected, but classics not so much 🙂 I think they’d be a bit of a letdown, especially Dickens – he’s one of my favourite authors! Still, the first line sounds like the character is going to be pretty cocky lol.


  5. I like Barbara Kingsolver, and I love David Copperfield. I’m intrigued by the premise, and nervous that I will end up disappointed. I think you are wise to try not to compare the two books. I will probably wait until after the holidays to give this a go.


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