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Prodigal Summer
Cover of Prodigal Summer
Prodigal Summer

Triumphing once again, Barbara Kingsolver has written a beautiful new novel: a hymn to wildness that celebrates the prodigal spirit of human nature, and of nature itself

Prodigal Summer weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives in southern Appalachia. At the heart of these intertwined narratives is a den of coyotes that have recently migrated into the region. Deanna Wolfe, a reclusive wildlife biologist, watches them from an isolated mountain cabin where she is caught off-guard by Eddie Bondo, a young hunter who comes to invade her most private spaces and her solitary life. Down the mountain, another web of lives unfolds as Lusa Maluf Landowski, a bookish city girl turned farmer's wife, finds herself in a strange place where she must declare or lose her attachment to the land that has become her own. And a few more miles down the road, a pair of elderly, feuding neighbors tend their respective farms and wrangle about God, pesticides, and the possibilities the future holds.

Over the course of one long summer, these characters find connections to one another, and to the land, and the final, urgent truth that humans are only one piece of life on earth.

Triumphing once again, Barbara Kingsolver has written a beautiful new novel: a hymn to wildness that celebrates the prodigal spirit of human nature, and of nature itself

Prodigal Summer weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives in southern Appalachia. At the heart of these intertwined narratives is a den of coyotes that have recently migrated into the region. Deanna Wolfe, a reclusive wildlife biologist, watches them from an isolated mountain cabin where she is caught off-guard by Eddie Bondo, a young hunter who comes to invade her most private spaces and her solitary life. Down the mountain, another web of lives unfolds as Lusa Maluf Landowski, a bookish city girl turned farmer's wife, finds herself in a strange place where she must declare or lose her attachment to the land that has become her own. And a few more miles down the road, a pair of elderly, feuding neighbors tend their respective farms and wrangle about God, pesticides, and the possibilities the future holds.

Over the course of one long summer, these characters find connections to one another, and to the land, and the final, urgent truth that humans are only one piece of life on earth.

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  • Lexile:
    870
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:
    4 - 5


About the Author-
  • Barbara Kingsolver's work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has earned a devoted readership at home and abroad. She was awarded the National Humanities Medal, our country's highest honor for service through the arts. She received the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for the body of her work, and in 2010 won Britain's Orange Prize for The Lacuna. Before she made her living as a writer, Kingsolver earned degrees in biology and worked as a scientist. She now lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia.

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine 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. (c) AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 30, 2000
    HA beguiling departure for Kingsolver, who generally tackles social themes with trenchantly serious messages, this sentimental but honest novel exhibits a talent for fiction lighter in mood and tone than The Poisonwood Bible and her previous works. There is also a new emphasis on the natural world, described in sensuous language and precise detail. But Kingsolver continues to take on timely issues, here focusing on the ecological damage caused by herbicides, ethical questions about raising tobacco, and the endangered condition of subsistence farming. A corner of southern Appalachia serves as the setting for the stories of three intertwined lives, and alternating chapters with recurring names signal which of the three protagonists is taking center stage. Each character suffers because his or her way of looking at the world seems incompatible with that of loved ones. In the chapters called "Predator," forest ranger Deanna Wolfe is a 40-plus wildlife biologist and staunch defender of coyotes, which have recently extended their range into Appalachia. Wyoming rancher Eddie Bondo also invades her territory, on a bounty hunt to kill the same nest of coyotes that Deanna is protecting. Their passionate but seemingly ill-fated affair takes place in summertime and mirrors "the eroticism of fecund woods" and "the season of extravagant procreation." Meanwhile, in the chapters called "Moth Love," newly married entomologist Lusa Maluf Landowski is left a widow on her husband's farm with five envious sisters-in-law, crushing debtsDand a desperate and brilliant idea. Crusty old farmer Garnett Walker ("Old Chestnuts") learns to respect his archenemy, who crusades for organic farming and opposes Garnett's use of pesticides. If Kingsolver is sometimes too blatant in creating diametrically opposed characters and paradoxical inconsistencies, readers will be seduced by her effortless prose, her subtle use of Appalachian patois. They'll also respond to the sympathy with which she reflects the difficult lives of people struggling on the hard edge of poverty while tied intimately to the natural world and engaged an elemental search for dignity and human connection.

  • Library Journal

    February 1, 2001
    This novel covers the expanse of one summer in the lives of several people in a remote area of southern Appalachia. The central theme tying three separate story lines together is the importance, and fragility, of the biological ecosystems found in the natural world. This precarious balance between humans and everything else--plants, bugs, moths, and mammals--is examined, tested, rejected, and rejoiced in by a collage of characters, who include Deanna Wolfe, the park ranger who tries to protect a pack of coyotes that miraculously appear on Zebulon Mountain; Lusa Landowski, a city girl with a degree in entomology who raises and sells goat kids; and feuding neighbors Garnett Walker and Nannie Rawley. To follow The Poisonwood Bible would be a daunting task for any writer; for Kingsolver, it would seem to be just about spinning another marvelous, magical yarn, only in a different locale and filled with another batch of endearing, honest people. This time her message is about the environment and intelligent women who are more comfortable with a love of nature than love with a man. Kingsolver reads her own words as lyrically as she writes them. Very highly recommended for all public and academic libraries with audio literature collections.--Gloria Maxwell, Penn Valley Community Coll., Kansas City, MO

    Copyright 2001 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    HarperCollins
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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Prodigal Summer
Barbara Kingsolver
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