Prodigal Summer

Prodigal Summer

by Barbara Kingsolver

Audio Other(Other - Unabridged, 10 Cassettes)

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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.

Read by the author.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780694524372
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/17/2000
Edition description: Unabridged, 10 Cassettes
Pages: 10
Product dimensions: 4.21(w) x 6.15(h) x 2.60(d)

About the Author

Barbara Kingsolver’s books of fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction are widely translated and have won numerous literary awards. She is the founder of the PEN/Bellwether Prize, and in 2000 was awarded the National Humanities Medal, the country’s highest honor for service through the arts. Prior to her writing career she studied and worked as a biologist. She lives with her husband on a farm in southern Appalachia.

Barbara Kingsolver’s books of fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction are widely translated and have won numerous literary awards. She is the founder of the PEN/Bellwether Prize, and in 2000 was awarded the National Humanities Medal, the country’s highest honor for service through the arts. Prior to her writing career she studied and worked as a biologist. She lives with her husband on a farm in southern Appalachia.

Date of Birth:

April 8, 1955

Place of Birth:

Annapolis, Maryland


B.A., DePauw University, 1977; M.S., University of Arizona, 1981

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Prodigal Summer 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 231 reviews.
mamieGS More than 1 year ago
I have read several of ms Kingsolver's book. Her best book by far it "The Poisonwood Bible" which I have read several times. But this book is totaly disappointing. She has three female characters who are so much alike that they are practically identical. She gets on her soapbox and lectures and preaches page after page...chapter after chapter..about the evils of nonorganic farming and killing wolves. OK...fine by me. But over 300 pages of that doesn't make a story and never will. Then...when you think the story is FINALLY going somewhere (around page 315 or so) she just stops. Like she ran out of paper! Ridiculous waste of time. Do NOT buy this thing!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was interesting reading but I felt like I was reading multiple books at the same time and the ending really didn't pull them all together. That said, I enjoyed the characters and learned about nature.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Haven't finished it - cant get interested in it. Nothing to peak or hold my interest.
caththegreat More than 1 year ago
All of the characters came alive as I followed their storylines, intersecting then beginning the underpinings of merging into families. The only part where I felt a trifle indoctrinated was with the need to preserve predatory animals. Deanna went on and on, reinforcing a zealous theme. I got it, I got it! Each of the characters was totally enticing. Did Luba make a good profit on her lambs? Did Little Ricky get a girlfriend or become a world traveler? How did Crys fare after her mom died? Did Deanna stay with Nanny and raise the baby in town? Did the cayotes live in peace?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked other books by this author, but this is much too harlequin romance style. No good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't understand what all these other reviewers saw that I didn't see, but I thought this book was very boring. Way too many details about everything. I breezed over a lot to try and just get through it because I don't like to give up on a book, but I put this one away unfinished.
debbook More than 1 year ago
Prodigal Summer is one of my favorite books, by one of my favorite authors. It tells the story of three different people over the course of one summer in Appalachia. Deanna Wolfe, works for the Forest Service and lives an isolated existence tracking and protecting coyotes. Lusa Landowski is a young entomologist who moved to a small farm to be with her now deceased husband. Garnett Walker is an 80 year old man trying to bring back the chestnut trees to his region and battling with his neighbor Nannie, whose organic farming methods threaten his project. Kingsolver deftly weaves these stories together with an appreciation and understanding of humans and their impact on the environment and nature. Kingsolver has a way of drawing you into the story and making you care about her characters. I would put Kingsolver in the same class as Alice Hoffman in her ability to tell a story that makes you feel different, feel moved by reading one of her novels. I even got a biology lesson during this read, but I was so enthralled with the story that I didn't even notice I'd learned anything until it was all over :) Kingsolver writes beautiful and poetic prose but always has important themes within. This is a lighter read than The Poisonwood Bible. If you have never read one of her books, this is a good one to start with and I highly recommend it
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have a hunger for words, and for nature writing, that only Kingsolver knows how to feed. In non-fiction, that hunger often moves me to pluck an Annie Dillard volume from the shelves¿ in fiction, it frequently moves me to open a novel by Barbara Kingsolver. She always satisfies. With her background as a biologist, Kingsolver always teaches me something I did not know about the natural world around us - and in us. As her characters in 'Prodigal Summer' know so well, we are one with this planet we live on. Abuse it, and we abuse ourselves. Nurture it, and we nurture ourselves. Her message of respect for the intricate and wonderful plan of nature is strong, but not overpowering. It is neither didactic nor preachy. That's important. The kind of rebel spirit required today to resist both physical and spiritual pollution would resist preaching. But her passion for the beauty of earth and her fascination with how involved a chain of life we are woven into blends easily and cleanly with her skill as a fiction writer. We read a good story and we learn a bit about natural biology - and the learning is painless. The knit of the two is tight and effective. As a woman reader, I also commend this woman author's presentation of such strong female characters. Hurrah! These are sensual women, the older ones fully as much as the younger ones, and they buckle to no one. Yet strength does not mean an inability to love. Women have known this¿ well, forever. To allow emotion to blossom with this kind of lushness is something women have always understood as the epitome of strength. These strong women understand sacrifice. They understand, and give in with gusto and abandon to, the most sensual pleasures. This, too, is our biology, and Kingsolver writes these scenes with mastery and appetite. Her women have spunk and fire. They have tenderness in their touch as well as hard muscle. They may not be able to save the earth¿ but they will certainly try.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would encourage anyone to listen to the audio book. It is narrated by the author and provides a deeply satisfying presentation of her work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love to read this book in summertime. Barbara Kingsolver is a master at combining cultural anthropology with literature.
jburke More than 1 year ago
This book is very sensual and the descriptions of summer and the way all animals and insects communicate through non-verbal methods is beautiful and memorable. It is beautifully written and a great introduction to this author if you haven't read her before. If you like Barbara Kingsolver you will love this book.
Ed-Philosopher More than 1 year ago
With this book, Barbara Kingsolver has won the place in my heart as my favorite author. This is a book for lovers of nature and lovers of life, young and old. Beware: It'll make a scientist want to throw off her lab coat and plunge her hands in the soil, it'll make a farmer want to return to the old-fashioned (organic) methods, and it just might make you a better neighbor wherever you live.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ms. Kingsolver does a wonderful job of creating very real characters in a very real location--the Appalachian Mountains. You get to know a handful of people and the facets of their lives that, eventually, intertwine together via their close proximity, both geographically speaking and also by the ecosystem that connects them all. I found myself making note of the lines that really spoke to me--I couldn't dismiss their profoundness.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Recently during one of my occasional evenings at Barnes & Noble searching the shelves for good books and authors to read, I picked up a hardcover of Prodigal Summer. Upon reading the publisher's review, I immediately became interested in the story and its environmental issues because I grew up near the Great Smoky Mountains and now get back there as often as I can to those peaceful and beautiful mountains that I love and am concerned about. Reading Prodigal Summer was like being home and when I finished it in a few short nights, I was sad to leave the mountains and lose dear friends. Kingsolver's style and imagination, her vivid descriptions and knowledge of nature and the outdoors, and her concerns and messages are poetic and unforgetable and I could almost feel the woods and hear the sounds as I read. Prodigal Summer was the first I've read by Kingsolver, but not the last. I'm headed to Barnes & Noble to buy more of what she's written.
jtho on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Just lovely. Three stories are followed. First, Deanna's love for nature overwhelms her tolerance for humanity, so she lives as a park warden on a mountainside, away from human contact. We learn what happens when her peace is disturbed as a young man stumbles upon her home. Next, we watch Lusa as she tries to figure out life as a new widow living far from home on her husband's family's farm. Finally, cantankerous old man Garnet Walker starts to confront the reasons he's always feuded with his next door neighbour. The mountain, the plants, and the animals are just as much characters in this novel as Deanna, Lusa and Garnet. The language is poetic and the scenes set are beautiful and rich. Each of the stories kept me interested; I was disappointed at the end of each chapter as I had to leave those characters behind, but my disappointment soon faded as I was quickly caught up in the next story. Of course, all three stories or their characters are tied together at the end, but more loosely than you might expect.If you liked The Poisonwood Bible, you'll like this one, too, and vice versa. Really enjoyable read, and I also learned a few things about ecology, too.
janglen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Barbara Kingsolver has an ability to make the reader really care about the characters in her books. This is no exception, and although the plot becomes a little predictable I always felt compelled to continue reading. My only real gripe is that Barbara Kingsolver can not stop herself from preaching to the reader. Even though I usually agree with the position she takes I still don't want to read lectures thinly disguised as dialogue. This is a good read though.
bookfest on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While I have loved many of Barbara Kingsolver's books and the prose in this is full of beautiful imagery, this novel has some serious weaknesses. It is too much of a polemic, too much of a lesson book on nature and its complex interrelationships. Perhaps good for a high school environmental class!
Well-ReadNeck on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My least favorite Kingsolver to date.
fyrefly98 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Summary: Prodigal Summer is an interweaving of three storylines, all taking place during the course of one summer in and around Egg Fork, Tennessee. In the chapters entitled "Predators", Deanna Wolf, forest ranger and wildlife biologist lives alone in a small cabin in the National Forest, watching the changes wrought in the ecosystem by the return of a predator - the coyote. When she meets Eddie Bondo, a young rancher who hunts coyotes for sport, they are powerfully physically drawn together, despite the ideological differences that threaten to tear them apart. In "Moth Love", newly-married and newly-widowed city girl Lusa is left alone on her husband's family farm, surrounded by unfamiliar and hostile in-laws, and facing the prospect of carving out a place for herself in farming and in her new family. In "Old Chestnuts", Garnett Walker, a retired agriculture teacher whose pet project is the cultivation of a blight-resistant American Chestnut tree, butts heads with his free-spirited and utterly confounding neighbor, Nannie Rawley. Though initially seeming quite disparate, these three stories slowly reveal their connections, ultimately resulting in a vibrant tapestry rich with luna moths and magnolia warblers, coyotes and chestnut trees, life and death and humor and love and place and home and belonging.Review: Prodigal Summer has been called Barbara Kingsolver's "sex book," both disparagingly and with affection. There certainly are a few "on-camera" sex scenes, although they're not written particularly graphically - Kingsolver herself has said while the themes of sex and fecundity are central to the novel, perhaps the most graphic sex scene is a dream sequence between a woman and a giant moth. However, to call it her "sex book" is to dismiss it too easily, and to overlook what I think is the point of the story. It's only about sex insomuch as everything in life is about sex - the struggle of each individual to pass on their genes, and leave something of themselves to the next generation. Calling it her "biology book" would be better (more on that in a minute), but the main theme of this book isn't sex, or biology - it's interconnection. This is most immediately apparent in the interlacing of the three storylines, which seem totally unrelated at first, but slowly yield up their connections, both major and minor, revealing the infinite number of tiny but not insubstantial ways that each of us touch the lives around us. But more than just personal interconnection, it also speaks to the connection of people to their environment, of the threads that bind us to the non-human lives around us - and of them to each other - resulting in a world that is a shining mass of sparkling threads of connection, where each life - moth, tree, or human - affects every other, and each life matters. The ultimate result of this finely-drawn sense of connection is that Zebulon County emerges as a place with a sense of Place; essentially another character in its own right. I first read Prodigal Summer in the spring of 2002, long before I'd ever been to Appalachia, but Egg Fork and the surrounding mountains were more real to me than any place I'd encountered in a novel before. Now, six years and several summers of working in the southern Appalachian mountains later, I can say that Kingsolver absolutely gets it right. The forest, the small town, the farms, the people, the animals, the mountains - it's all there, vividly drawn, and pulsing with Life. Her characters are similarly real; by the end of the book you feel like you've known these people your whole life - not people like them, but them. Even with only a third as much space per story as in a traditional novel, Kingsolver still manages to draw complex, multi-layered, and lovably flawed people who feel as though you would recognize them walking down the street.I will admit that I was predisposed to like this book - Kingsolver has a degree in b
dgmlrhodes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the third book I have read by Barbara Kingsolver and it is my favorite of the three. This book was beautifully written - with prose almost poetic in places. Intelligently written, the book paints a picture of wildlife preservation as well as farming not often seen in fiction books.
Sean191 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Prodigal Summer is the first Kingsolver book I've read and I don't think it will be the last.I thoroughly enjoyed it. It had enough environmental preaching in it for me to appreciate it, but not so much that someone not as into that would be turned off. Even though it was a novel, it was really like three short stories broken up by each other, as the chapters alternated between three different stories that were slightly woven together, but really could have stood on their own if needed.The character stories were different enough that I found myself eagerly awaiting getting past two chapters to get back to the storyline concerning my favorite (a cranky old widower). Kingsolver is a talented writer and her characters are well-developed and the reader might even learn a little too! And yet another book that lets me know how much we're missing when we lost American Chestnut trees.
booklove2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was too good. The perfect mixture of nature and fiction. I loved how all of the characters eventually all connected to each other. I saved this book to read in the summer and I only read it outside. Funny story: I saw a baby bird and it's parents hopping around underneath the bird feeder and I thought 'I wonder why the baby birds are always bigger than its parents'. Then, literally, 10 seconds later, Prodigal Summer answered my thought within its text, that baby birds appear bigger because their feathers are different when they are young.
GretchenCraig on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A lovely book. The two women characters live close with all things natural, coyotes and insects in particular. The book has three strands, alternating chapters focused on one of three characters, the two women and a man nearing the end of his life. I tend to invest myself strongly in characters, and leaving the first woman on her mountain to explore the new strands was wrenching, but eventually I became interested in strands two and three as well. The many passages about trees or animals or insects are interesting and informative and for the most part, I enjoyed them. Here and there, though, I thought the green-message was a little heavy-handed and preachy. Still, the woman living on the mountain is a character and a story I'll always remember.
rbtwinky on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was really impressed by this book. Not only did it tell a great story, but it made me want to move out of the city and live on a farm! The characters were deep and moving. The situations the characters were in were exceedingly accessible, even for this city girl. It hovered around a theme of loneliness, but there was so much more to it than that. The ending was sublime; Kingsolver gave closure without getting too Hollywood about it.
tibobi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
picked this book up a couple of times and put it right back down again. However, the third time I picked it up I stayed with it and I am glad I did. Richly written and somewhat lyrical in nature, Prodigal introduces us to interwoven story lines about love, nature and hope. Not a quick read but one to be savored.