earning international acclaim with The
Poisonwood Bible, Barbara
returns in Prodigal Summer
to her childhood stomping grounds
of southern Appalachia, making a stop on the New York Times
along the way. This award winning fifth novel is somewhat lighter than her earlier
works, though no less meaningful and certainly just as entertaining. Kingsolver
deftly embraces new risks, largely in the interaction of setting and plot lines
that carry her message. High above the Zebulon Valley, a reclusive Forest Service
biologist is forced to consider her own connection with humanity when a young
bounty hunter trailing the same coyotes she's observing becomes her unlikely
companion. Down the mountain, a young widow faces a choice between protecting
her heart (by moving back to the city) or pouring it into the land to which
she has become deeply attached. Further down the road, two elderly neighbors
squabbling over pesticides and God are drawn together by their ideological differences
to share a lesson in interdependence. All three plots unfold as the nature within
and around them follows the abundant summer's urging to procreate. Where lesser
writers would turn these fertile scenes into a prodigal disaster, Kingsolver
weaves instead a beautifully detailed, touching meditation on nature and the
connection that all things share within it. Prodigal Summer
crafted ecological treatise is a love story told with Kingsolver's signature
keen observations and earthy, poetic wit. Powell's customers named Prodigal
among their favorites
and it's sure to please others in search of a richly refreshing, heartwarming
and thoughtful read. Lilus, Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Barbara Kingsolver, a writer praised for her"extravagantly gifted narrative voice" (New York Times Book Review
), has created with this novel a hymn to wildness that celebrates the prodigal spirit of human nature, and of nature itself.
Prodigal Summer weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives inhabiting the forested mountains and struggling small farms of southern Appalachia. At the heart of these intertwined narratives is a den of coyotes that have recently migrated into the region. Deanna Wolfe, a reclusive wildlife biologist, watches the forest from her outpost in an isolated mountain cabin where she is caught off-guard by Eddie Bondo, a young hunter who comes to invade her most private spaces and confound her self-assured, solitary life. On a farm several miles down the mountain, another web of lives unfolds as Lusa Maluf Landowski, a bookish city girl turned farmer's wife, finds herself unexpectedly marooned in a strange place where she must declare or lose her attachment to the land. And a few more miles down the road, a pair of elderly, feuding neighbors tend their respective farms and wrangle about God, pesticides, and the complexities of a world neither of them expected.
Over the course of one humid summer, as the urge to procreate overtakes a green and profligate countryside, these characters find connections to one another and to the flora and fauna with which they necessarily share a place. Their discoveries are embedded inside countless intimate lessons of biology, the realities of small farming, and the final, urgent truth that humans are only one part of life on earth.
With the richness that characterizes Barbara Kingsolver's finest work, Prodigal Summer embraces pure thematic originality and demonstrates a balance of narrative and ideas that only an accomplished novelist could render so beautifully.
"[An] extravagantly gifted narrative voice." New York Times Book Review
"A blend of breathtaking artistry, encyclopedic knowledge of the natural world...and ardent commitment to the supremacy of nature." San Francisco Chronicle
"Prodigal Summer is full of...tenderness, humour and earthy spirituality....Kingsolver's dialogue is absolutely natural, often funny, and sometimes heartbreaking." Christian Science Monitor
"[Kingslover's] sexy, lyrical fifth novel renders our solitary yearnings with a finely trained eye and ear." People
"A complex web of human and natural struggle and interdependency is analyzed with an invigorating mixture of intelligence and warmth....This deservedly popular writer takes risks that most of her contemporaries wouldn't touch with the proverbial ten-foot pole. Prodigal Summer is another triumphant vindication of her very distinctive art." Kirkus Reviews
"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." New York Times
About the Author
Barbara Kingsolver's work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has earned a devoted readership at home and abroad. She was awarded the National Humanities Medal, our country's highest honor for service through the arts. She received the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for the body of her work, and in 2010 won Britain's Orange Prize for The Lacuna. Before she made her living as a writer, Kingsolver earned degrees in biology and worked as a scientist. She now lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia.