Thursday, August 6, 2009

Prodigal Summer

Quite simply, a lovely book, authored by Barbara Kingsolver. I had not read it before, but last month at my book group, one of the members asked if I had read it and said that they thought I would enjoy it. I trust all of the group's opinions, so I got the book and read it. My book group had read it several years ago. And he was right! I thoroughly enjoyed the book!

The book weaves together three different stories of people, all living within a short distance of each other in the Appalachia's. Deanna is a park ranger living in the Appalachian Mountains who has been living in the mountains by herself for the past two years, telling herself that she does not need anyone. Lusa is a recent bride, then widow, trying to figure out where she fits in on her husband's family place. Garnett and Nannie are elderly neighbors of each other who live down the road from Lusa. They have continued to feud and fuss with each other over the years.

The book beautifully raises and explores several different themes. One is just plain themes of love, which each of the characters experience in different ways. But the book also is about survival of the land, including the trees, bugs, birds, animals, etc. Deanna is tracking a family of coyotes, long missing from the Appalachian Mountains. Lusa is trying to farm responsibly. Garnett and Nannie disagree on the use of pesticides. The author does a very nice job of presenting the facts and arguments, without the book seeing preachy at all.

Kingsolver does an excellent job developing the characters, making them real and likable. I cared about them, and what happened to them.

As stated, a lovely book!


Bybee said...

This and The Bean Trees are my favorites of Kingsolver's fiction.

Susan said...

I read this book a few summers ago and loved it. I'd forgotten about the coyotes until you mentioned them. I love how Kingsolver layers things so gently, so there is a sense of conclusion to so much of her story at the end, which is so satisfying. This was such a good book to read. Lovely post, too! And you realize that makes three of us Susans here, since Bybee is one too (she's my book-twin)..... :-D

Jamie said...

If you have not read "The Poisonwood Bible" by Kingsolver, make it your next book! I am an avid reader and it is definitely in my top 5 books of all time!