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
weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives inhabiting the forested mountains and struggling small farms of southern Appalachia. 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 confounds 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 unexpectedly 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 neighbors 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, as the urge to procreate overtakes the countryside, these characters find their connections to one another and to the flora and fauna with whom they share a place. With the complexity that characterizes Barbara Kingsolver's finest work, Prodigal Summer embraces pure thematic originality and demonstrates a balance of narrative, drama, and ideas that render it an inspiring work of fiction.
"A 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....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." Publishers Weekly
This work weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives inhabiting the mountains and small farms of southern Appalachia. It portrays various people who find their connections to one another, and to the flora and fauna with whom they share a place.
Paperback edition of this intricately woven tale of an Appalachian farming community and its sometimes tense relationship with the surrounding wilderness, in which an array of vivid characters seek to establish connections both with one another and with the outside world. "...a rich and compulsive read. Its acute and sensuous observation of the natural world reveals an unexpected beauty..." "Guardian".