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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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7,033145515 (4)299
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)
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    State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (BillPilgrim)
    BillPilgrim: I heard the comparison/recommendation here: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2011/07/25/midmorning2/
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English (143)  French (1)  All languages (144)
Showing 1-5 of 143 (next | show all)
Saccharine and preachy. ( )
  countrylife | Nov 4, 2015 |
One summer in the lives of three people in southern Appalachia. It's clear what message Kingsolver is trying to give - respect for the natural order and hope that changing farming practices can start to undo the damage of ecological disaster. The characters are developed and likable, I came to care what was happening to them. I only wish the novel hadn't come across as so preachy. It's always risky to assume that what you learn in a book of fiction is actually true, not just created by the author for the purpose of her story, but I think I learned some interesting things about the part of the country where I now live. I'm going to go look for an American chestnut out in the National Forest. ( )
  TerriBooks | Aug 30, 2015 |
Kingsolver has a magical way of subtly interweaving characters and story lines to illustrate the theme of interconnectedness. Solitude is an illusion--nothing's separate from anything else. Her style is a celebration of language....would make anyone want to read and write as well! Like a short story, every word in this novel is important to the meaning...an analytical reader's paradise! She utilizes language to create structures that parallel the points she makes about nature and life in general--lush with literary allusion and rich metaphor.

What I can take away from this novel is a new understanding of nature (like a science textbook but delightful to learn!) including a lot of technical information about specific insects and animals. I was overcome with emotion midway through the novel as I realized what was happening--how everything was going to come together. This novel inspires hope for the future and faith in the universe, as problems and people in the novel are the types we see every day. You can put this book down with a renewed sense of purpose and fate; believing that there may really be reason behind tragedy and seemingly random choices and chance occurrences. I was in tears a few times while reading...
I loved the humor in Walker's character...he reminds me of my grandfather although there's no hope for my grandfather having such an epiphany. Kingsolver showed me the truth of some statements that people have made to me about my choice to become vegetarian. There are some things that people can say that I'll just ignore with contempt for such stupidity....but I am now able to see the truth behind the claim that things are not that simple....being a bleeding heart animal loving vegetarian is not the answer. Everything is so much more complex than that!
I felt that the ending provided total closure...every character accounted for and the big picture was obvious. I loved how the story ended just as it began like all natural cycles. A brilliant author and a beautiful, attitude-altering novel.
( )
  engpunk77 | Aug 14, 2015 |
I absolutely loved this novel! Just like the other two books by Kingsolver which I've read, it took me several pages to get into it; but I was soon hooked. I think her way of dropping the reader into the story midstream, then allowing the background and details to evolve, make it more like getting to know people in real life. My only disappointment is that it ended. ( )
  BethieBiker | Mar 31, 2015 |
4.5 stars

Deanna is a forest ranger and has no desire to see other humans, so she has spent two years in a cabin on a mountain on her own, working and enjoying the natural world around her. City girl and bug scientist Lusa has just married Cole, a farmer, and has moved with him onto his family farm. Garnett is an old man who seems to be living decades ago (based on his attitudes).

Deanna's life is turned around when a young hunter, whom she is very attracted to, arrives on her mountain. Lusa's world changes when Cole dies suddenly only a year after they married and she isn't sure how to fit in to his family, but she doesn't want to leave the farm, either. Garnett has to deal with the hippie-like old woman living next door, with her organic farm, who refuses to let him spray even close to their property line.

I really liked this. I loved learning about all the animals and natural life in the area, and of course, I was nodding along and agreeing with the three women as they tried to protect the natural land and creatures around them. I have to admit that the last chapter confused me a bit, though. I've had a slow reading year to start (in terms of how much I've enjoyed what I've been reading) and this is the best one to date. It will make my favourites list this year. ( )
  LibraryCin | Mar 1, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 143 (next | show all)
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
First words
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)

» see all 9 descriptions

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