Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

The usual preface: I'm not a book review site...

Book 22 in the 50 Book Challenge: Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer

It's another book I've had in my TBR pile for over a year and I'm so glad it finally sifted to the top. Great read. I tried to write my thoughts, but couldn't really do the book justice. When you're writing comments (not a review!!) about a book that sports such rich narrative, it's hard to do it justice. My solution? Cut and paste what HarperAcademic had to say:

Barbara Kingsolver, a writer praised for her "extravagantly gifted
narrative voice" (New York Times Book Review), has created with this novel a
hymn to wildness that celebrates the prodigal spirit of human nature, and of
nature itself.
Prodigal Summer weaves together three stories of human love
within a larger tapestry of lives inhabiting the forested mountains and
struggling small farms of southern Appalachia. At the heart of these intertwined
narratives is a den of coyotes that have recently migrated into the region.
Deanna Wolfe, a reclusive wildlife biologist, watches the forest from her
outpost in an isolated mountain cabin where she is caught off-guard by Eddie
Bondo, a young hunter who comes to invade her most private spaces and confound
her self-assured, solitary life. On a farm several miles down the mountain,
another web of lives unfolds as 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. 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 complexities of a world neither of them
Over the course of one humid summer, as the urge to procreate
overtakes a green and profligate countryside, these characters find connections
to one another and to the flora and fauna with which they necessarily share a
place. Their discoveries are embedded inside countless intimate lessons of
biology, the realities of small farming, and the final, urgent truth that humans
are only one part of life on earth.
With the richness that characterizes
Barbara Kingsolver's finest work, Prodigal Summer embraces pure thematic
originality and demonstrates a balance of narrative and ideas that only an
accomplished novelist could render so beautifully.

But if I had to sum up this book in a few sentences, I'd say it's like a Merchant & Ivory film: slow paced, not a lot of action, but rich, moving and beautiful.


Rashenbo said...

Look at you.... moving right along that book challenge! Kudos to you! :) Sounds interesting. I'm not sure it's a book I would be interested in, I'm not a fan of those slow paced character study type of works.

Robyn Mills said...

Book 20 I'm impressed. Have you read other works of hers?

Rhian / Crowwoman said...

i've only read Animal Dreams by her which was out-hanging-standing.

Anonymous said...

Prodigal Summer sounds marvelous -- those three words, "hymn to wildness", are an exhortation: READ ME, TL! :-D

Wylie Kinson said...

Rash - I hear you! I often overlook books like this because my mind prefers a fast-paced story, but I'm never disappointed by these 'ponderous' tomes if it's well-written. And they take me a lot longer to get through than a Nora Roberts or Harlen Coben!

Robyn - I read The Poisonwood Bible years and years ago and remember loving it. I'll have to check out the one Rhi suggested.

Rhi - thanks. I'll keep my eyes out. The fact that Kingsolver was a biologist gives her a real edge when it comes to weaving science/ecology into her narrative. You end up learning a lot without the dreaded INFO DUMP.

TL - I think you'll love this one.