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Prodigal Summer: A Novel by [Barbara Kingsolver]
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Prodigal Summer: A Novel Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 1,744 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

There is no one in contemporary literature quite like Barbara Kingsolver. Her dialogue sparkles with sassy wit and earthy poetry; her descriptions are rooted in daily life but are also on familiar terms with the eternal. With Prodigal Summer, she returns from the Congo to a "wrinkle on the map that lies between farms and wildness." And there, in an isolated pocket of southern Appalachia, she recounts not one but three intricate stories.

Exuberant, lush, riotous--the summer of the novel is "the season of extravagant procreation" in which bullfrogs carelessly lay their jellied masses of eggs in the grass, "apparently confident that their tadpoles would be able to swim through the lawn like little sperms," and in which a woman may learn to "tell time with her skin." It is also the summer in which a family of coyotes moves into the mountains above Zebulon Valley:

The ghost of a creature long extinct was coming in on silent footprints, returning to the place it had once held in the complex anatomy of this forest like a beating heart returned to its body. This is what she believed she would see, if she watched, at this magical juncture: a restoration.
The "she" is Deanna Wolfe, a wildlife biologist observing the coyotes from her isolated aerie--isolated, that is, until the arrival of a young hunter who makes her even more aware of the truth that humans are only an infinitesimal portion in the ecological balance. This truth forms the axis around which the other two narratives revolve: the story of a city girl, entomologist, and new widow and her efforts to find a place for herself; and the story of Garnett Walker and Nannie Rawley, who seem bent on thrashing out the countless intimate lessons of biology as only an irascible traditional farmer and a devotee of organic agriculture can. As Nannie lectures Garnett, "Everything alive is connected to every other by fine, invisible threads. Things you don't see can help you plenty, and things you try to control will often rear back and bite you, and that's the moral of the story."

Structurally, that gossamer web is the story: images, phrases, and events link the narratives, and these echoes are rarely obvious, always serendipitous. Kingsolver is one of those authors for whom the terrifying elegance of nature is both aesthetic wonder and source of a fierce and abiding moral vision. She may have inherited Thoreau's mantle, but she piles up riches of her own making, blending her extravagant narrative gift with benevolent concise humor. She treads the line between the sentimental and the glorious like nobody else in American literature. --Kelly Flynn --This text refers to the hardcover edition.

From AudioFile

Kingsolver's lyrical prose and superb storytelling are perfectly matched by her gentle narration with its core strength and emotional fluency. She tells the story of three worlds within a small Appalachian community: that of Deanna Wolfe, a Park Service employee who lives alone on the mountain; of Lusa Landowski, who came from the city to live on a farm out of love and must now come to understand her relationship to the land and the family that has tended it for generations; and of two neighbors, one feuding and one a free spirit, who forge a path toward learning about each other. These stories, separate and yet interwoven by the community in which all--even the reclusive Deanna--live, also have at their center the interconnectedness of the human world and the natural one. Kingsolver, who grew up in eastern Kentucky, ably shades voices with the nuances of regional speech and also captures the voices of "outsiders." Her narration skill and compelling story make an unforgettable audio experience. M.A.M. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award. © AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the hardcover edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B000QUCO8U
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ HarperCollins e-books (October 13, 2009)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ October 13, 2009
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 1806 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 468 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,744 ratings

About the author

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Barbara Kingsolver grew up in rural Kentucky and earned degrees in biology from DePauw University and the University of Arizona before becoming a freelance writer and author. At various times in life she has lived in England, France, and the Canary Islands, and has worked in Europe, Africa, Asia, Mexico, and South America. She spent two decades in Tucson, Arizona, before moving to southwestern Virginia where she currently resides.

Her fifteen books include short stories, essay collections, poetry, and seven novels. In the first decade of the new millennium, following her well-known work The Poisonwood Bible, she published two novels (prior to this one) and three non-fiction books including Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a narrative of her family’s locavore year that helped launch a modern transition in America’s food culture. Kingsolver’s work has been translated into more than two dozen languages, and has been adopted into the core literature curriculum in high schools and colleges throughout the nation.

Kingsolver was named one the most important writers of the 20th Century by Writers Digest. In 2000 she received the National Humanities Medal, our country’s highest honor for service through the arts. Critical acclaim for her books includes multiple awards from the American Booksellers Association and the American Library Association, among many others. The Poisonwood Bible was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Orange Prize, and won the national book award of South Africa, before being named an Oprah Book Club selection. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle won numerous prizes including the James Beard award. The Lacuna won Britain’s prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction in 2010, and last year she was awarded the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for the body of her work.

In 1998, Kingsolver established the Bellwether Prize for fiction, the nation’s largest prize for an unpublished first novel, which has helped to establish the careers of more than a half dozen new literary voices. Through a recent agreement the prize has now become the PEN / Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.

Barbara has two daughters, Camille and Lily. Her husband, Steven Hopp, teaches environmental studies. Since June 2004, Barbara and her family have lived on a farm in southern Appalachia, where they raise an extensive vegetable garden and Icelandic sheep.

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
1,744 global ratings

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EV
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 16, 2018
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HLeuschel
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotional, poignant and beautifully written
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 30, 2019
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L. S. Tate
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 29, 2019
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Kym Hamer
5.0 out of 5 stars A rich and rewarding read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 27, 2017
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Pamela Scott
4.0 out of 5 stars Not her best but hugely enjoyable
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 12, 2021
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