Annika's Reviews > Prodigal Summer

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
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May 10, 11

Read from May 03 to 10, 2011

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 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.
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