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Social Concerns / Themes

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Piercy's eighth novel, Fly Away Home, is a most successful attempt to wed social consciousness with domestic drama. In this novel, Daria Walker awakens from the illusion — or delusion — of her upwardly mobile marriage, and her picture-perfect, sheltered, suburban life. Forced to confront her husband's adultery and his unethical, exploitive business practices, Daria does indeed grow, gain awareness, and become politicized. When she learns her husband, Ross, has been hiring arsonists to burn his own buildings, Daria draws her head out of the sand, and joins former tenants in their quest for safe shelter. Daria's postdivorce affair with a working-class carpenter (and bookworm) returns her to the core values — mutual and self-respect, the worth of work — with which she was raised, values she may have lost sight of during her years in "suburban semi-slumber."

Jane O'Reilly calls this tome "a romance with a social conscience, a tale of love, betrayal and revenge set against a backdrop of ... the evils of gentrification and the uses of arson as a slum-clearance tool." Ellen Sweet adds: "In place of large visionary utopias, Fly Away Home is about a "small" subject all too familiar in recent novels: a conventional woman coming to awareness because of divorce. But Piercy . . . manages to turn this hackneyed theme into something new and appealing: a romance with a vision of domestic life only a feminist could imagine. Although her novel has a strong subplot dealing with social change through political action, at its heart is Piercy's faith in the transforming value of love and intimacy."