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56 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A completely satisfying novel
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...
Published on 13 Aug 2001

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Writing by Numbers
Kingsolver knows how to put a sentence together, and her heart is absolutely in the right place. She is in favour of everything that, in my view, conduces to both human and ecological health: a rational approach to farming and game management; free sexual expression; gender equality; you name it. But those good intentions are precisely the problem. Every character has to...
Published on 5 July 2011 by Dr. G. Garrard


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56 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A completely satisfying novel, 13 Aug 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Prodigal Summer (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
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliantly crafted and compelling novel, 26 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Prodigal Summer (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Ecology, Relationships, and Sex, 8 Sep 2002
By 
Imperial Topaz (Marrakesh, Morocco) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Prodigal Summer (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Keystone author, 14 Oct 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Prodigal Summer (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. However, Lusa has a Jewish and Arab bloodline, and at one telling moment, she reveals how both her families had been run off their farms in the past: once because they were Jewish, and once because they were not. She has to struggle to make a living, guided greatly by a young nephew who's flushed with adolescent hormones. Garnett Walker conducts a daily battle to restore the American Chestnut, commonly thought of as dead due to the blight. He wants to restore the landscape to the one that his father and grandfather knew and built. However, God has given him a cross to bear by granting him Nannie Crawley as a neighbour. Nannie is the local champion of organic farming, and her bid to avoid any drop of herbicide or insecticide touching her apples drives Garnett mad. These neighbours are also fiercely divided in their respective attitudes towards God, but there's always the most implacable of snapping turtles there that seems destined to clamp these two old folk together.
In her depiction of forest life, Barbara Kingsolver reminds you of Edward Rutherfurd's glorious novel of this year, 'The Forest', especially in the portrait of a community where everyone seems distantly related to each other. The last section is also reminiscent of Rutherfurd's passages concerning the New Forest's other inhabitants. There's also a great love of apples and bees, something that Joanne Harris dwells on at depth in her novel 'Blackberry Wine'. However, I suspect that Kingsolver would not share Harries' dislike of wasps. For her, the predator is king. A spider is not something to be stepped upon lightly; sharks and wolves should not be hunted to extinction, since this reckless slaughter mucks up the whole ecosystem. Kingsolver throws into the debate contemporary thinking on keystone predators, parasitic hymenoptera, and reveals old truths, like the pituitary gland that used to make women fertile as they slept under the full moon in the ancient depths of time. I found Kingsolver's introduction to be compelling reading. It's also great that you can access Kingsolver's source materials via the internet. I was thrilled to find Mike Finkel's article about the coyote. To my mind, this makes 'Prodigal Summer' ones of those ideal novels where you learn a great deal, but are also gripped by the various narrative twists and turns. Some of the fiction that has involved me recently has featured the natural world, whether it be the bugs of Neal Asher's science fiction, or the contemporary human stories that is Kingsolver's fodder. Kingsolver is a natural storyteller in more ways than one.
Kingsolver follows the general advice of writing what she knows. She lives in the Appalachians, and is a biologist by training. She also has a very liberal outlook, which I find especially affirming. However, this novel could be quite controversial. The genetic versus organic farming debate hasn't really hit the States as yet, but this popular novel could quite well spark it off. It's also a theme that is hugely topical in my native Britain at the moment. What makes Kingsolver so compelling, however, is her research and knowledge. Although I'm pretty much converted to eating organic, Kingsolver has much that is new to say to me too. She's certainly made me look at spiders in a whole new perspective and respect. Barbara Kingsolver could cure your phobias too. Certainly, if the world were run her way, I suspect we'd all have fewer allergies. We'd certainly build more bridges between each other. At the very least, this is an incredible life-affirming novel that deserves to become the keystone predator of any current book chart.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A prodigal book, 8 April 2008
This review is from: Prodigal Summer (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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So glad to have found Barbara Kingsolver, 13 Feb 2010
By 
K. M. Harrison "Kate Harrison" (Lincolnshire, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Prodigal Summer (Paperback)
I came upon Barbara Kingsolver via Amazon - reading reviews by people who liked what I also liked.
I cannot understand why I had not heard of her before - why is she not on the book prize / best seller lists?
I read first Poisonwood Bible & was bowled over by her brilliant style, the beautiful quality of her writing and the fact that she also tells such a good story - and so interesting. I felt I was learning a lot too. I did not want to finish it. I followed up with Prodigal Summer - after a gap - not wanting to be 'Kingsolvered out ' & worried the next might disappoint. Not to be - just finished it & again feel I have to declare her talent. Very different book in many ways, yet reflecting still her fundamental concerns for life, the balance between man and nature and the importance of the relationships that exist between. A beautiful, soothing read and a good story too. I can only continue reading the rest of her novels & wondering why no-one seems to know her?? Pass it on.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure poetry.., 5 Aug 2005
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This review is from: Prodigal Summer (Hardcover)
From the moment I opened the first page and began reading this masterpiece by Barbara Kingsolver, I was completely captivated by the beauty of her words. She effortlessly combines three stories into one, linking each with delicate threads. This book is apt for today, touching upon the tragedies that humanity has brought to the natural world, but at the same time delighting in the small wonders (from moths to mushrooms) that are with us each day. Barbara Kingsolver's keen observation of flora and fauna and the interaction of humans is delightful. This is a book to read over and over, on a warm summer's evening with the swallows overhead or a rainy morning snuggled up in bed!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical but real., 24 Aug 2006
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This review is from: Prodigal Summer (Paperback)
I loved the way the author includes her magical descriptions of nature in the story. I was transported to another place while reading this. Nature is the protagonist in all her forms, human, animal and plant . Kingsolver uses her wealth of knowledge coupled with real feeling to create a lovely, thought-provoking tale.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written., 17 May 2009
By 
Pen pal "Topaz" (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Prodigal Summer (Paperback)
Very well thought out novel. It follows the lives of three key characters. To begin with we see no connection between them but as the story unfolds we realise that they will all eventually be or become connected. Through the story two of the main characters, Deanna and Lusa have a great affinity for nature, Deanna living on a conservation site, and Lusa inheriting a farm and with a huge interest in bugs and nature. We learn much about predators and their place in the food chain where Barbara Kingsolver passes on to us her extensive knowledge on these subjects through the guise of the story. But,rest assured, it is never boring, and indeed more pertinent than ever in the current world situation where animals are being hounded out of existance with no real knowledge of how this will ultimately affect us.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good follow-up to The Poisonwood Bible, 22 Aug 2002
By 
Mark Wallace (London, England United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Prodigal Summer (Paperback)
If you haven't read The Poisonwood Bible then read that first - one of the best books of recent years. If you have read it then rejoice that Kingsolver has done it again with a very different book. She masterfully weaves several plots together creating an evocative and sensual portrayal of small-town relationships from several different points of view.
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Prodigal Summer
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver (Paperback - 11 April 2013)
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