Tremendous, spare, modern tale of a couple who marry within 3 weeks of meeting and move to Berne, Switzerland for the hubby’s job. She finds out he’s a birder on their wedding day, when he presents her with a pair of $2,000 binoculars. The opening scene is of a car accident that causes her miscarriage, he had swerved to avoid hitting a bird (a wallcreeper) that then gets taken home with them. As she learns more about him, she finds she does not love him. Affairs begin on both sides, openly. They move to Berlin, she becomes more into birding while he devolves into clubbing and drugs. Zany eco-pranks ensue, like dismantling the bank of the Elbe River stone by stone, causing flooding of a nearby forest. The hubby falls into drug hazes in the opium fields of Albania (birding and drugging) while she gets preggered by a nineteen year old tourist, causing her to fly back to the US for the necessary procedure only to find that she was not actually pregnant. While in the US, she snares her sister into returning to Berlin with her, saving her from a strip club job. The sister becomes a middle class teacher in Berlin, success story! Meanwhile, the couple are broke and floundering around in the wilds of Europe looking for the next big eco adventure, and he dies in a lake. She immediately slips into the promise of marriage with one of her lovers, who hates her as soon as she moves in. At the end, she stamps her foot, “hopping in place on the snow like an angry robin,” claiming to be tired of being people’s sex slave, that she wants to study organic forestry. She finally settles on living with the old priest, who lets her live rent-free as long as she decorates. When she asks if she can take up the carpeting, he sighs:
Stop following orders. Do what you want. Work selfishly. Without the experience of control, you will never have the experience of creativity. Stop giving yourself away, and you will have more to offer than your body and soul. Keep them and cultivate them. Learn, learn, and once again learn!