It is summer in the Appalachian mountains and love, desire and attraction are in the air. Nature, too, it seems, is not immune. From her outpost in an isolated mountain cabin, Deanna Wolfe, a reclusive wildlife biologist, watches a den of coyotes that have recently migrated into the region. She is caught off guard by a young hunter who invades her ...
It is summer in the Appalachian mountains and love, desire and attraction are in the air. Nature, too, it seems, is not immune. From her outpost in an isolated mountain cabin, Deanna Wolfe, a reclusive wildlife biologist, watches a den of coyotes that have recently migrated into the region. She is caught off guard by a young hunter who invades her most private spaces and interrupts her self-assured, solitary life. On a farm several miles down the mountain, Lusa Maluf Landowski, a bookish city girl turned farmer's wife, finds herself marooned in a strange place where she must declare or lose her attachment to the land that has become her own. And a few more miles down the road, a pair of elderly feuding neighbours tend their respective farms and wrangle about God, pesticides, and the possibilities of a future neither of them expected. Over the course of one humid summer, these characters find their connections of love to one another and to the surrounding nature with which they share a place. With its strong balance of narrative and drama, Prodigal Summer is stands alongside The Poisonwood Bible and The Lacuna as one of Barbara Kingsolver's finest works.
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Sep 24, 2009
Love, Lust and Natural Procreation
The intricate web of an alive and evolving ecosystem is explored in depth from three different viewpoints in this engaging, amazing novel. Kingsolver takes an Appalachian mountain valley?a place of small farms and forests?and explores the myriad dramas, both micro and macro, that take place in one ?prodigal summer.? From humans and coyotes, moths and phoebes, wild honeysuckle and Chestnut trees, the theme here is life in all its messy, amazing, procreating, preying, mutating, and adapting glory.
Kingsolver?s intricate knowledge of the natural world and rich descriptions are unsurpassed and bring to mind naturalist author Peter Mathiessen. Ms. Kingsolver, however, has just as good a touch with the people in her story. Her characters are sympathetic, deep and flawed. They are mere humans living in a small valley, trapped in a web, where everything is interconnected. It?s a place ?where every quiet step is thunder to beetle life underfoot, a tug of impalpable thread on the web pulling mate to mate and predator to prey, a beginning or an end.?
Though at times she flirts with preachiness, overall Ms. Kingsolver strikes a perfect balance of biological detail, natural dramas and human relationships. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the natural world.
Sep 23, 2007
Once in a decade or so, you get to read an unforgettable novel that is both intelligent and heart-rending. The Poisonwood Bible is such a novel. The writer, Ms. Kingsolver, has the insight of a mystic, but writes in a language that touches your heart as well as satisfies your intellect. This is a first rate novel about life, its foibles and aspirations; about the missteps and the courage to be human - all written in beautiful and credible prose. This is an exemplary novel. Simply beautiful and brillant.
Publishers Weekly, 2000-10-02 HA beguiling departure for Kingsolver, who generally tackles social themes with trenchantly serious messages, this sentimental but honest novel exhibits a talent for fiction lighter in mood and tone than The Poisonwood Bible and her previous works. There is also a new emphasis on the natural world, described in sensuous language and precise detail. But Kingsolver continues to take on timely issues, here focusing on the ecological damage caused by herbicides, ethical questions about raising tobacco, and the endangered condition of subsistence farming. A corner of southern Appalachia serves as the setting for the stories of three intertwined lives, and alternating chapters with recurring names signal which of the three protagonists is taking center stage. Each character suffers because his or her way of looking at the world seems incompatible with that of loved ones. In the chapters called "Predator," forest ranger Deanna Wolfe is a 40-plus wildlife biologist and staunch defender of coyotes, which have recently extended their range into Appalachia. Wyoming rancher Eddie Bondo also invades her territory, on a bounty hunt to kill the same nest of coyotes that Deanna is protecting. Their passionate but seemingly ill-fated affair takes place in summertime and mirrors "the eroticism of fecund woods" and "the season of extravagant procreation." Meanwhile, in the chapters called "Moth Love," newly married entomologist Lusa Maluf Landowski is left a widow on her husband's farm with five envious sisters-in-law, crushing debtsDand a desperate and brilliant idea. Crusty old farmer Garnett Walker ("Old Chestnuts") learns to respect his archenemy, who crusades for organic farming and opposes Garnett's use of pesticides. If Kingsolver is sometimes too blatant in creating diametrically opposed characters and paradoxical inconsistencies, readers will be seduced by her effortless prose, her subtle use of Appalachian patois. They'll also respond to the sympathy with which she reflects the difficult lives of people struggling on the hard edge of poverty while tied intimately to the natural world and engaged an elemental search for dignity and human connection. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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