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Prodigal Summer: A Novel Kindle Edition
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|Length: 468 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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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 Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the hardcover edition.
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Publication Date : October 13, 2009
- File Size : 1806 KB
- Publisher : HarperCollins e-books (October 13, 2009)
- Print Length : 468 pages
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B000QUCO8U
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #43,994 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The novel unfolds through alternating chapters about three characters living on the land in rural Appalachia. Deanna is a park ranger with a passion for nature living alone on a mountain until a hunter who might as well be called Fantasy Man shows up. Lusa is a young woman adjusting to widowhood and her in-laws while struggling to find an earth-friendly way to make her farm solvent. Garnett Walker is an “old fart” with little patience for the independence and organic methods of his neighbor even while he struggles to revive the American chestnut trees on his own property. Each chapter deftly advances these three stories and ends in cliffhangers that made me want to read on. Ultimately, the author reveals how all the characters are connected.
Throughout, Kingsolver offers lush descriptions of the beauty and fecundity of nature in summertime while her characters deal with the human desires unleashed by the season. Her prose is superb. After a hard rain, the dripping leaves of the forest echo with a “sibilant percussion.” A blacksnake "oozed" down the wall of a log cabin “in an undulating flow like a line of molasses spilling over the edge of a pitcher.” The plotting and pace are excellent and I laughed out loud quite a few times at funny observations or situations. My only problem is that too many characters descend into long-winded lectures on the necessity for humans to adopt more earth-friendly environmental practices. A lighter touch would have conveyed that important message more effectively and made this a sleeker, superior 5 star book.
Top reviews from other countries
Prodigal Summer is a fabulously rich and rewarding read and one of my favourites this year.
First there is Deanna Wolfe, a 47-year-old biologist who lives in a log cabin payed to scour the National Forest land for poachers while keeping track of her beloved coyotes that settle nearby. The divorcee's two-year solitude is interrupted by Eddie Bondo, a sheep farmer 20 years her junior, who reconnects her with her physical needs for proximity and social companionship.
Secondly there is Lusa Landowski, a city-born entomologist married to Cole Widener whose family makes it very hard for her to settle. The day personal tragedy strikes, she gradually finds a way to love the area, to find her own calling and grows closer to her five sisters-in-law and their children.
Thirdly, there is the elderly Garnett Walker whose main purpose in life is to revive the American chestnut tree, made extinct by loggers and fungal blight, while warring with his neighbour, Nannie Rawley. Here again, the story evolves beautifully and the two neighbours grow to accept and help each other in ways they could not anticipate initially.
The three main women protagonists have in common their fierce independence and strength of personality and the novel insists convincingly on the shared animality of humans, regardless of their efforts to subdue nature. The descriptions of the passing seasons, the fecundity of the earth and beauty of the surrounding woodlands is rendered so well that I was captured by every single page of this book.