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Prodigal Summer Paperback – 4 Jun 2001

4.4 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews

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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: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 264,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.


"'(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

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 stand for something, and although they still manage to persuade as 'possible human beings' (ie rounded characters) their function in resolving the plot to good moral effect is just too transparent. I found myself wishing the sweet, ornery old lady would get run over by an artic, or that the earthy, maturely-sexy game warden would sneak off for a McDonalds. I'm basically an embarrassingly ingenuous reader, but even I knew exactly how it would end by about half way through.

And those well-crafted sentences start to irritate after a while, too. They're just too lush, too perfectly lyrical. An irruption of Irvine Welsh comes to seem welcome after a few hundred pages of humming bees, vivid colours and drifting woodsmoke. So if you think you'd like an extremely skilled but relentlessly right-on novel - knock yourself out! But if you prefer to encounter something 'other', something recalcitrant that slaps your assumptions about a bit, look elsewhere.
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