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

by Barbara Kingsolver

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6,829136538 (4)262
Member:EsotericMoment
Title:Prodigal Summer: A Novel
Authors:Barbara Kingsolver
Info:Harper Perennial (2001), Paperback, 464 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Fiction

Work details

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver (2000)

  1. 40
    The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (Booksloth, Anonymous user)
  2. 10
    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 by William Stolzenburg (Othemts)
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» See also 262 mentions

English (134)  French (1)  All languages (135)
Showing 1-5 of 134 (next | show all)
I approach Barbara Kingsolver's books with the expectation that they will be wonderful - and Prodigal Summer did not disappoint!

This is the story of four main characters during one summer in the Appalachians. Deanna is a forest ranger living an isolated life in the mountains. Lusa is a young widow faced with running a farm on her own and looking for ways to do so that are contrary to the established way of doing things. Garnett is an old widower at odds with his 'eccentric' neighbour. And the fourth character? That would be nature and the environment itself.

These main characters - as well as a number of secondary ones - are beautifully written. It is as though Barbara Kingsolver has given each a soul.

I would highly recommend this - and all other books by this author. ( )
  EvelynBernard | Jul 28, 2014 |
Read during Winter 2003/2004

It took a while to get going, perhaps 2/3 of the book but finally started to pull together all the threads and make some headway. I found the ecology and conservation parts, even for a tree-hugger like me, a bit pedantic and I never warmed up to Deanna, park ranger but the descriptions of nature and particular the coyotes were well down and the whole book turned out much more enjoyable than I expected from the start.
  amyem58 | Jul 14, 2014 |
Prodigal Summer is the story of three women in various stages of life. Each is seeking to live an authentic life on their own terms. Other characters include a man in his later years, a younger man entering adulthood, a young girl struggling with her identity, her mother; a woman facing devastating illness. Their stories, although separate, are linked together. Interwoven through all of their stories are the prose and beauty of nature. This book is filled with the oftentimes harshness of life's realities, but Barbara Kingsolver's words shine through like poetry. ( )
  Dmtcer | Jun 3, 2014 |
Prodigal Summer is the story of three women in various stages of life. Each is seeking to live an authentic life on their own terms. Other characters include a man in his later years, a younger man entering adulthood, a young girl struggling with her identity, her mother; a woman facing devastating illness. Their stories, although separate, are linked together. Interwoven through all of their stories are the prose and beauty of nature. This book is filled with the oftentimes harshness of life's realities, but Barbara Kingsolver's words shine through like poetry. ( )
  Dmtcer | Jun 3, 2014 |
I can hardly find words to describe how delicious Prodigal Summer was. I have loved everything I've read by Barbara Kingsolver, but if I had to pick a favorite by her this would definitely be in the running. The scope of the story-line is small, but the themes are large. It follows three characters in the Southern Appalachians, who are loosely connected, through one summer. Biology and nature play a large role; describing it to my husband I called it an "ode to ecology." But Kingsolver also goes beyond that: while the non-human ecological systems of predator/prey and mating are important to the story in their own right, they are also a reflection of these processes as they occur between the humans in the story. Kingsolver's writing is sumptuous and atmospheric and she makes the weather and the setting feel almost like additional characters in the story. I highly recommend this quiet and beautiful novel! ( )
  sbsolter | Feb 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 134 (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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Barbara Kingsolverprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kingsolver, BarbaraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Prothalamium
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
Dedication
--for Steven, Camille, and Lily, and for wildness, where it lives
First words
Her body moved with the frankness that comes from solitary habits.
Quotations
Arguments could fill a marriage like water, running through everything, always, with no taste or color but lots of noise.
Last words
(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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:53 -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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