Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Book Review: Prodigal Summer

I'm a little late on the Barbara Kingsolver bandwagon. I'd never read anything of her's before, but I saw this one at the library booksale and decided to pick it up. I am so glad I did. Let me just tell you that I read this entire 444 pager in one day. One. I could not put it down.

The book jacket says Prodigal Summer is about human love, but I disagree. I would say that, at it's heart, Prodigal Summer is a book about family in its many forms. It's set in southern Appalachia and Kingsolver's descriptions of the setting are magical. But even better are her characters. Each one was so well-crafted I found myself thinking about them days later (the sign of a good character, I think).

Prodigal Summer centers around Deanna Wolfe, a wildlife biologist who identifies with coyotes more than she does with people; Lusa Maluf Landowski, a scientist who marries a farmer and moves to the country only to feel like an outsider among her in-laws; and Garnett Walker, an old man convinced his neighbor is God's test for him. Through these three interconnected lives, we see how families are created and destroyed, how widely encompassing they can be -- beyond genetics, beyond species -- and, overall, how just how important they are.

On top of all of this are Kingsolver's rich descriptions of the flora and fauna in Zebulon County, a sign of her biologist roots, but done so seamlessly that it lends a richer layer to the tapestry of the story rather than distracting from it.

This is the book's first sentence: "Her body moved with the frankness that comes from solitary habits. But solitude is only a human presumption. Every quiet step is thunder to beetle life underfoot; every choice is a world made new for the chosen. All secrets are witnessed."

It gives me shivers. This is the kind of writing that inspires me to run for my comupter keyboard and just write and write with the hope that I can come up with something a fraction of this good. I can't wait to read more from Barbara Kingsolver. This is why I like discovering writers after they've been around for a while, she's already written lots more novels for me to read ; )

No comments:

Post a Comment