This is my favorite book of all time!! I re-read it every couple of years because it is one of those books that you find something new every time. Fab...moreThis is my favorite book of all time!! I re-read it every couple of years because it is one of those books that you find something new every time. Fabulous characters...who doesn't love Atticus Finch?(less)
The beginning of the LOOOOOONG books in the series. Honestly not one of my favorites of the seven, but still key things you need to know in unravellin...moreThe beginning of the LOOOOOONG books in the series. Honestly not one of my favorites of the seven, but still key things you need to know in unravelling the Potter story.(less)
**spoiler alert** Sadly, my least favorite Potter book. The epilogue is the worst thing Rowling has ever written in relation to her wonderful wizardin...more**spoiler alert** Sadly, my least favorite Potter book. The epilogue is the worst thing Rowling has ever written in relation to her wonderful wizarding world. Do over!! No really, she HAS to clean things up better than this. Sad the series is over and even more sad that it was poorly ended. (less)
I love, I LOVE this story. I read it first in July 2008, so now it's over 2 years later and I just read it again. And I love it even more.
It's set oh,...moreI love, I LOVE this story. I read it first in July 2008, so now it's over 2 years later and I just read it again. And I love it even more.
It's set oh, Robin Hoodish times. Late 1190s Wales. King Richard is on his Crusades and Prince John is on the English throne. He's only mentioned in this book, he doesn't actually have any speaking parts.
The novel centers around "Noble", the nickname of the King of a little Welsh "reeve" and his castle, Cymaron. Noble is everything you think you'd want your King to be...young, athletic, healthy, beautiful, royal. He's also the most arrogant creature EVER, but hey he's the KING so he can afford to be. However, he has the biggest problem in the history of all kings, and that is he has no heir.
He marries Isabel Mortimer, an Englishwoman, whose uncle Roger tried to kill Noble twenty years earlier, but only succeeded in killing his father. The marriage is entirely political. His thinking is...if he and Isabel can have an heir, Roger won't take over their little Welsh kingdom, and his little Welsh kingdome can continue it's glory days.
All in all, Roger isn't so much the enemy here. He's just a baron or something. Noble just has this 20-year hatred of the guy for killing his father. And a 20-year hatred of himself for not rescuing his best friend, Gwirion, at the hands of Roger's henchmen.
Gwirion is one of my favorite characters ever. Like Scarlett O'Hara, you LOVE to hate this guy. He's obnoxious, rude, inappropriate, but he's a "fool", so he's pretty much allowed to say and do as he pleases. He's the King's best friend, and that's not really a deep enough term for what he is to the King. He saved Noble's life when they were 9 years old, so Noble feels somewhat indebted to him.
For most of the book, readers are given everyday life at Cymaron with these 3 incredibly odd, still three-dimensional characters and try to sort out exactly what is going on.
You want to hate Noble because he's arrogant. But he's got a kingdom to run, wars to plan, an heir to create, a wife to control (she's English, not Welsh), and a Fool to answer for. Among other things. I realize that sounds like Prince Humperdinck, but Noble is a bit more...suave. A Ken Doll to Humperdinck's Mr. Bill doll, if you will. He's not a tyrant until he feels his control slipping away. He's compassionate to dwarves and his childhood playmate, but not to old women or young boys. Noble's actually pretty contradictory, but I can't outright say that he's horrible and awful and we should all hate him.
You want to pity Isabel for being a stranger in a strange land. So, go ahead. There's not much she can do about the entire situation because she's a female and nothing but a political pawn to her uncle and brother. She was also born about 900 years too early. She pretty much has no choice in anything, because she has to obey HER king, who also is her husband, so being a Queen is only good when it's convenient for Noble. (Noble plays mind games with her nonstop. Everything is a trap, everything she says is used against her, there really are no correct answers she can give.)Her entire purpose is to have an heir. And since no one in 1199 Wales understands biology, of course it's HER fault. Isabel pretty much has the worst situation. She isn't allowed to contradict Noble when he's fallen over with laughter over Gwirion's pranks against her. She has one friend, a Welsh servant girl named Enid, who gets removed from the castle (and who also happens to be Noble's favorite "friend"). She has one English servant, an old woman named Adele who gets removed from this world. So Isabel is lonely the majority of the book.
You want Gwirion punished for his awful pranks, but they're pretty funny. Because they're not at the reader's expense, just at Isabel's. He's so rude, he needs some kind of retribution, RIGHT? He can't possibly get away with that stuff.
The book is really about Noble and Gwirion, and their complicated ties with each other, social class, what's acceptable to do and say and be around a king, what exactly a Royal Fool is (and Wales had no concept of this, it's an English role. No one is quite sure WHAT Gwirion is).
By the end of the book, you will feel differently about Gwirion. Probably Noble and Isabel too, but definitely him. All the characters change by the end of the book, one definitely for the worst, one for the better, and one truly a victim of place and time.
I think this will remain one of my top...twenty favorite books. I love the characters, even the secondary ones like Enid. I love how there really are no definite answers, just guesses. Some people, that drives them crazy, so if you like stories that leave you guessing, this is a doozy. You'll probably think about it long after you've finished. There are plenty of clues to let you make your own conclusions with out Nicole Galland coming right out and spelling it all out for you.
Very descriptive and calming. Three stories tied into one, and cleaned up neatly at the end. A good summertime read.
I read this book again, so I can w...moreVery descriptive and calming. Three stories tied into one, and cleaned up neatly at the end. A good summertime read.
I read this book again, so I can write a better review, since this book definitely deserves a second thought.
This is a book to be savored, meaning, it is not a light easy read, and it isn't fluff. It isn't loaded with heavy issues (Barbara Kingsolver's "Poisonwood Bible" is definitely a heavier chunk o' reading compared to this) but I feel to truly appreciate "Prodigal Summer", one must be in the right mindset.
This book takes three stories and alternates chapters with three different points of view. If you can pay attention to detail, you won't have trouble picking up on very subtle things the author leaves along the way, like bread crumbs on the trail that weaves through the three tales. However, Kingsolver is not an in-your-face author. She won't nudge you and say "Didja catch that? Didja?" It's up to you to find the "clues", so to speak.
Each story/chapter has it's own title. "Predators" is essentially a love story, an older "mountain woman" and a much younger hunter meet by chance on a mountain trail. Their story isn't so much love as it is obsession. In terms of nature, their story is very detailed. I love how Kingsolver can describe a tree, a rainstorm, a snake, a bug, a cabin in the woods and each time it's different and beautiful. She doesn't feel like she flipped through a thesaurus and learned new words as she went along. Her language is very easy and flows nicely with the setting of the story. Since Deanna Wolfe is a woman who has lived on the mountain for two years observing the flora and fauna, this type of dialect would come easily to her.
The second story/chapter is "Moth Love". Lusa Widener married a farmer, Cole, the only brother of five sisters. Lusa is Polish/Arabian and finds herself the owner of a tobacco farm at the foot of the mountains. She is not a farmer herself, but a botanist and a "bug lady" and struggles with relating to anyone in her new family. Her ideas about farming get her ridiculed.
The third story/chapter is "Old Chestnuts". Garnett Walker is a man in his eighties, a retired vo-ag teacher who is grafting a new chestnut tree to withstand the blight that took out all the American chestnuts in the region. He is an extremely focused, uptight, aged man who just wants to be left alone on his farm and in his own routine, except for one thorn in his flesh, his neighbor Nannie Rawley, whose apple orchard, beehives, and gardening techniques cause him agitation and stress.
I enjoyed this book even more the second time I read it. The dialect flows easily, the setting is very real, and the stories all tie up nicely by the end. I love the subtlety of this book, and still the complexity of instinct, life, death, rebirth, and finding our purpose here, among nature, to co-exist in some kind of harmony. (less)