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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 6 December 2005
This was such a beautiful book for me. I was totally absorbed by it, and now even just thinking about it makes me feel good.
The writing is gentle and easy yet powerful and emotional at the same time. It teaches an enormous amount without apparent intent. It is totally seductive. I want to live in her world.
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on 8 April 2008
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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on 13 February 2010
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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on 2 September 2016
Other reviewers have said what I feel and think about this book. I found it a joy to read even though as an expatriate New Zealander, I know little about life in Appalachia. It strikes me though, that if we are going to solve our ecological problems throughout the world the answers will come from the very give and take of ideas and efforts that Kingsolver describes in her imagined country community of small farming and forest. She describes world problems in a microcosm of country people. A book to be enjoyed at different levels. Thought provokingly good.
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on 17 January 2001
This is a visual and olfactory feast. The descriptions of country life in Appalachia are stunning and the clever interweaving of the characters is eminently satisfying.
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on 29 August 2011
I enjoyed this book. The separate stories of the two main female characters are strogly linked by nature. The themes of nature are described well and used as themes for some of the characters and their lives. Contrasts are drawn between the verdant and natural splendour of the habitat in the mountain/forest and the farming community in the valley where everyone works hard to scratch a living out of the land.

However, after a while the description and analogies drawn using nature and reproduction begin to wear on you. I also don't think that the character of Deanna who lived in the mountain was very clearly explored.

A good read though.
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on 25 October 2016
Find many modern novels too over-long for their subject. This was just right. I liked the way the three main characters saw the world around them through young, middle aged, and old eyed, and how their attitudes to family, neighbour, and the natural world changed through the course of the novel.
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on 12 October 2004
Cleverly written, easy to read, the way the story knitted together kept my attention, although some might have become bored before it really got going, but I always like to give a book a chance!! I'm really looking forward to purchasing and reading The Poisonwood Bible and The Bean Trees which I will do pretty soon, the other reads I have waiting will just have to wait a little longer.
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on 30 August 2016
A wonderful, thought provoking book, with characters that may be a little stereotypical perhaps but so engaging, you wat to know how they're connected and what the future will likely hold, for them and for their environment. Long live the predators!
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on 13 June 2011
It's turning out to be a good year for reading, this being my fourth five star book this year so far. Recommended by Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart on his website I earmarked Prodigal Summer as a potential good summer read. It was better than that, it was a brilliant read and although my first Barbara Kingsolver it certainly won't be my last.

Writing beautifully about the connections between humans and nature, about family, ownership and freedom the author weaves her tale in a lyrical unshowy way. I liked the fact that the author (mild spoiler) never felt the need for her two main protagonists to meet but rather have their two worlds marginally overlap, possibly a analogy with the natural world she describes so well. And Prodigal Summer has (mild spoiler) one of the best depictions of elderly love I have ever read.
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