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Prodigal Summer Paperback – 4 Jun 2001


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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; Re-issue edition (4 Jun 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571206484
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571206483
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 229,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Barbara Kingsolver was born in 1955 and grew up in eastern Kentucky. Her books include poetry, non-fiction and award-winning fiction, and in 1999 she was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for The Poisonwood Bible (recently voted Britain's favourite reading group book). She lives with her husband and daughter in southern Arizona and in the mountains of southern Appalachia.

Product Description

Amazon Review

In Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer the characters are intimately connected to the countryside that they inhabit and are seen as an integral part of the flora and fauna of the novel's setting--the Appalachian Mountains, in Alabama. The novel teems with life; everything is a-buzz with reproductive hormones--animals, plants and people alike. Up in the mountains nature is getting down to the business of keeping itself going, and the novel's characters are also consciously or instinctively caught up with procreation.

Deanna Wolfe, a reclusive wildlife biologist, wanders the mountain trails and watches a den of coyotes, while becoming involved with a young hunter; Lusa Maluf Landowski, who loves moths, finds herself mourning her farmer husband, surrounded by his relations and their children. Even those past child-bearing age, like grumpy old Garnett and his feisty neighbour Nannie wrangle over pesticides and weeds, and then succumb to love. All around them flowers bloom and trees blossom. It is a beautifully observed novel, reminiscent of the work of Annie Dillard and Rachel Carson. Deanna says: "So much detail goes unnoticed in the world" but Kingsolver has used her biologist eye to see even the smallest thing. Pulsing fire flies, the powdery scales on a moth's body, cub coyotes playing like swimming dolphins are caught in her gaze. The characters in thrall to their hormones and their hearts are regarded with the same attention.

Prodigal Summer is a hugely involving novel, written with a graceful compassion for all living things and their vital interactions with each other, making it a joy to read. Kingsolver's previous novels include The Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven. --Eithne Farry --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"'(Barbara Kingsolver's)...marvellously subtle and compelling tale of a southern Appalachian farming community in tense interplay with the wilderness on its doorstep, contains a deft parable of humankind's place in nature. Prodigal Summer is a rich and compulsive read. Its acute and sensuous observation of the natural world reveals an unexpected beauty, as it traces human love in the flight of a luna moth.' Guardian"

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 56 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 13 Aug 2001
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. It shares several themes - fundamentalist Christianity, the power of nature, family ties and the irresistible thrum of sexual attraction - with The Poisonwood Bible, which I also loved. This book is set more 'down home' in a southern state of the US, but is no less powerful for it. In fact the author seems more confident with this context. I learned a lot of interesting stuff about natural history from it and also fell in love with the characters and landscape. There is an erotic quality to Barbara Kingsolver's writing, which is totally devoid of sleaze and I think she is utterly brilliant. I am rationing the rest of her books out - I want to savour them.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Jan 2001
Format: Hardcover
A friend asked me what this book was about - I said "people" - which is true. But I later amended this to "coyotes" - because Kingsolver's passion and respect for nature provides the cement which binds this novel together.
I finished this book thinking "That is a once-in-ten-years experience" - the three subplots are skilfully woven together, and the charaterisations are brilliantly three dimensional and convincing. I find it incredible that an author can so convincingly portray, for example, both a crusty and nearly inarticulate octagenarian and also an alienated, unhappy and anti-social ten year old girl. Her touch is deft and sure - and the her command of language is exquisite. An experience I am delighted to have had.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Imperial Topaz on 8 Sep 2002
Format: Paperback
The other reviews of this book are so good, thoughtful, and complete, that I don't have much left to add!
This book is about ecology, biology, relationships, feelings, and sex. The book consists of three intersperced love stories-all three incredibly sensuous, intertwined with ecological themes (the author is trained as a biologist). This book was completely different from the Poisonwood Bible, an an easier read in terms of enjoyment. I loved the Poisonwood Bible, but it also disturbed me. This book was pure pleasure. I did have the feeling that this book might be too slow-paced for many men. It deals mostly with the intricacies of relationships between the characters, and their feelings.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and highly recommend it.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Oct 2000
Format: Hardcover
This new book by Barbara Kingsolver has a definite place in my list of the top 5 novels of this year. It consists of three interlocked tales set in the Appalachians. However, there are consistent themes running throughout all the stories, as tricky and cunning as the coyotes that roam invisibly into each of these character's lives. The community of Zebulon County is very closely knit, with each protagonist distantly related to the others. It is also, in a sense, a community that is dying. Farming has thrived for generations in the locale, but now sons are having a much harder time than ever their fathers had on the same land. Migration to outlying prosperous towns and cities seems ever more attractive to the local population. As one species seems to pause and move on, however, another is quick to move in.
Deanna Wolfe lives in the forest, a biologist by training. She is quick to spot that a small troupe of coyotes has moved into the area. This reflects an unusual trend: despite the coyote being the most hunted animal in the United States, its population has increased. However, Deanna falls prey to the handsome Eddie Bondo, a real hunter. Her attraction to him is at odds with her desire to protect the coyote. Eddie comes from the sheep ranches of Wyoming, and he regards the coyote as his enemy. Almost despite herself, Deanna feels the necessity to act on her own animal needs. Lusa Maluf Landowski is also a biologist. She has been brought to Zebulon by her marriage to one of the local farmers. Her life is not exactly idyllic, but it's soon to be shattered. She's left with the choice of having to stay on her land or go. Although both her parents were brought up on farms, Lusa knows very little about the practicalities of running her own.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By I LOVE BOOKS on 8 April 2008
Format: Paperback
I'll admit I'm not so much into nature-related books, but this tale took me completely by surprise, and a very pleasant one at that! My first book by Barbara Kingsolver and a discovery in every sense. Three different stories run on parallel grounds in the space of a summer and unbeknownst to the characters, they are all intertwined by the magic power of love and nature.

Three tales that gracefully connect with each other without ever being confusing for the reader, starting from Deanna, a reclusive forest ranger in the Appalachian mountains who loves her solitude and job but is taken aback by the unexpected meeting of a young hunter with whom she falls, reluctantly, in love. Then there are Lusa and Cole, newly married and living on his inherited farm. A twist of fate and Lusa's life changes dramatically and unexpectedly. And finally, old and widowed Mr. Walker (my own favourite character), a grumpy man in his eighties obsessed by his neighbour, Miss Rowley, whose attitude to life in general combined with her numerous apple trees seem to be there just to annoy him.
These are the cores of the tales, but all is layered by a triumphant description of mountain/farm/country life.

Different subjects are explored, loss, love, affection, strength, fragility, our place and meaning on this planet, as important and valuable as the one of a single little bug living under a leaf. All is delivered by a poetic and effective prose, embracing colours, smells, sensations and feelings in a powerful, yet delicate, way. Some episodes are definitely humorous, others so wise and profound, they bring tears to your eyes. Very touching.

A wonderful tale which celebrates life in all of its forms, a positive message and a hidden reminder that we should all be more appreciative of what, and whom, we are surrounded by.
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