Prodigal Summer

Barbara Kingsolver, Author
Barbara Kingsolver, Author HarperCollins Publishers $26 (464p) ISBN 978-0-06-019965-4
Reviewed on: 10/30/2000
Release date: 10/01/2000
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-694-52437-2
Paperback - 624 pages - 978-0-06-019966-1
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4498-7927-3
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7887-5208-7
Open Ebook - 464 pages - 978-0-571-24622-9
Paperback - 453 pages - 978-0-571-20648-3
Paperback - 464 pages
Paperback - 978-0-06-091711-1
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-613-64446-4
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 464 pages - 978-0-06-143683-3
Open Ebook - 464 pages - 978-0-06-143679-6
Ebook - 464 pages - 978-0-06-143685-7
Paperback - 444 pages - 978-0-06-227404-5
Ebook - 480 pages - 978-0-06-183992-4
Book - 978-0-06-089462-7
Book - 978-0-06-089463-4
Hardcover - 320 pages - 978-0-571-20638-4
Hardcover - 448 pages - 978-0-571-20783-1
Hardcover - 447 pages - 978-0-571-29885-3
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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. (Nov.)
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