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Prodigal Summer: A Novel by Barbara…

Prodigal Summer: A Novel (original 2000; edition 2001)

by Barbara Kingsolver

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7,156154497 (4)304
Title:Prodigal Summer: A Novel
Authors:Barbara Kingsolver
Info:Harper Perennial (2001), Paperback, 464 pages
Collections:Your library

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Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver (2000)

  1. 40
    The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (Booksloth, Anonymous user)
  2. 20
    State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (BillPilgrim)
    BillPilgrim: I heard the comparison/recommendation here: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2011/07/25/midmorning2/
  3. 00
    Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators by William Stolzenburg (Othemts)

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English (152)  French (1)  All languages (153)
Showing 1-5 of 152 (next | show all)

A really lovely story, this, of three parallel narratives of lonely people finding their own paths in an Appalachian backwater community, the three stories turning out to be closely linked together (in a gutwrenching but joyful revelation on page 400). Lots of lovely observations about nature and human nature, with the core character a half-Palestinian, half-Polish widow who realises that she can adapt to her new environment and make it adapt to her. I was unaware that the American chestnut was all but wiped out by imported fungus in the early twentieth century; one of Kingsolver's characters is striving to undo that historical mistake, but by producing something new and better rather than retreating into the past. Greatly enjoyed it. ( )
  nwhyte | Apr 17, 2016 |
Told from three loosely interconnecting perspectives: Deanna, a forest ranger, who has lived off-grid in a remote mountain cabin alone for two years until hunter Eddie Bondo crosses her path; Lusa, whose farmer-husband Cole has died a year into their marriage; and finally Garnett, an elderly widow, who disapproves of (but is obsessed with) his neighbour Nannie.

I am giving this book five stars because I found it captivating and a page-turner, despite the fact that very little really happened and most of it is about nature and food chains and pesticide use and preservation. Deanna's passion is the coyote family which has moved onto her mountain and protecting them from Eddie. Lusa is a moth scientist who takes up goat farming and Garnett is trying to produce a blight resistant strain of chestnut tree while mocking Nannie for having an organic orchard. Somehow Kingsolver made me extremely interested in these issues; a small miracle.

I spent the book changing my mind about which sections I enjoyed the most, deciding in the end on Garnett's, but the shifts in perspective work well. I am curious about whether the enormous hollowed out tree was in fact logged or downed by a storm - there were two different versions of this story. It took me longer than it should have done to work out who Garnett's son was. The storyline concerning the softening of Cole's family towards Lusa was well and realistically done, although of the three main protagonists Lusa was the least clearly drawn in my opinion. Sometimes she seemed to exist merely in opposition to the other family members and I kept forgetting she was part Palestinian, despite the fact that this seemed to be very important to her.

The final chapter from the perspective of a coyote drew attention to the similarities between her perspective and that of Deanna. I am curious to read other novels by this author. ( )
  pgchuis | Apr 6, 2016 |
This is closer in style to her earlier novels. Set in Appalachia, it follows three "couples" - Dianne Wolf & Eddie Bando; Lusa & Cole/Rickie; and Garrett & Ninnie. There's lots of description of the interconnectedness of nature, the wonder of nature, how no one is ever really alone. I'm having a difficult time describing it, but it's a good book. I enjoyed it immensely ... and would hope for a sequel. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 26, 2016 |
I really loved this book. I'm a big fan of Kingsolver's anyway, but I can't believe I waited so long for this one. I did choose the audio version, which was read by the author, and I have to say her voices and accents and pace really transported me there. As usual, she weaves so many important lessons into her narrative. ( )
  bjoelle5 | Feb 10, 2016 |
This is the first fiction work of Barbara Kingsolver that I have read - I know, I don't know how I've escaped her until now! Just kidding. I really liked this book. At first I was sort of put off by the multiple character viewpoints, but I really came to love how the stories touched each other, just barely, and how the characters themselves changed. This is a wonderful exploration of solitude, family, belonging, and change. And there's a definite thread of sensuality woven throughout. Having read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, you can definitely see Kingsolver's views on modern farming, food politics, and our destruction of the natural world coming out of the mouths of her characters. Luckily for me, I hold similar views with her about 95% of the time, so this wasn't a detraction from the story. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves nature or anyone who has ever felt like an outsider looking in at the lives of others, and felt uncertain about whether they even wanted to be included in the first place. ( )
  chessakat | Feb 5, 2016 |
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Readers hoping for the emotional intensity and wide-angle vision of ''The Poisonwood Bible,'' Kingsolver's magnificent 1998 epic about a self-destructing missionary family in the newly independent Congo, will most likely be disappointed. But the legions of fans primed on earlier books like ''Animal Dreams'' and ''The Bean Trees'' will find themselves back on familiar, well-cleared ground of plucky heroines, liberal politics and vivid descriptions of the natural world.
In an improbably appealing book with the feeling of a nice stay inside a terrarium, Ms. Kingsolver means to illustrate the nature of biological destiny and provide enlightened discourse on various ecological matters.
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Come, all you who are not satisfied
as ruler in a lone, wallpapered room
full of mute birds, and flowers that falsely bloom,
and closets choked with dreams that long ago died!
Come, let us sweep the old streets--like a bride:
sweep out dead leaves with a relentless broom;
prepare for Spring, as though he were our greem
for whose light footstep eagerly we bide.
We'll sweep out shadows, where the rats long fed;
sweep out our shame--and in its place we'll make
a bower for love, a splendid marriage-bed
fragrant with flowers aquiver for the Spring.
And when he comes, our murdered dreams shall wake;
and when he comes, all the mute birds shall sing.
--Aaron Kramer
--for Steven, Camille, and Lily,
and for wildness, where it lives
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Her body moved with the frankness that comes from solitary habits.
Arguments could fill a marriage like water, running through everything, always, with no taste or color but lots of noise.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060959037, Paperback)

There is no one in contemporary literature quite like Barbara Kingsolver. Her dialogue sparkles with sassy wit and earthy poetry; her descriptions are rooted in daily life but are also on familiar terms with the eternal. With Prodigal Summer, she returns from the Congo to a "wrinkle on the map that lies between farms and wildness." And there, in an isolated pocket of southern Appalachia, she recounts not one but three intricate stories.

Exuberant, lush, riotous--the summer of the novel is "the season of extravagant procreation" in which bullfrogs carelessly lay their jellied masses of eggs in the grass, "apparently confident that their tadpoles would be able to swim through the lawn like little sperms," and in which a woman may learn to "tell time with her skin." It is also the summer in which a family of coyotes moves into the mountains above Zebulon Valley:

The ghost of a creature long extinct was coming in on silent footprints, returning to the place it had once held in the complex anatomy of this forest like a beating heart returned to its body. This is what she believed she would see, if she watched, at this magical juncture: a restoration.
The "she" is Deanna Wolfe, a wildlife biologist observing the coyotes from her isolated aerie--isolated, that is, until the arrival of a young hunter who makes her even more aware of the truth that humans are only an infinitesimal portion in the ecological balance. This truth forms the axis around which the other two narratives revolve: the story of a city girl, entomologist, and new widow and her efforts to find a place for herself; and the story of Garnett Walker and Nannie Rawley, who seem bent on thrashing out the countless intimate lessons of biology as only an irascible traditional farmer and a devotee of organic agriculture can. As Nannie lectures Garnett, "Everything alive is connected to every other by fine, invisible threads. Things you don't see can help you plenty, and things you try to control will often rear back and bite you, and that's the moral of the story."

Structurally, that gossamer web is the story: images, phrases, and events link the narratives, and these echoes are rarely obvious, always serendipitous. Kingsolver is one of those authors for whom the terrifying elegance of nature is both aesthetic wonder and source of a fierce and abiding moral vision. She may have inherited Thoreau's mantle, but she piles up riches of her own making, blending her extravagant narrative gift with benevolent concise humor. She treads the line between the sentimental and the glorious like nobody else in American literature. --Kelly Flynn

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:03 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

A hymn to wildness that celebrates the prodigal spirit of human nature, and of nature itself. It weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives amid the mountains and farms of southern Appalachia.

(summary from another edition)

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