Sunday, April 17, 2011

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

Back Cover Blurb: Barbara Kingsolver's fifth novel is a hymn to wilderness that celebrates the prodigal spirit of human nature, and of nature itself. It weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives amid the mountains and farms of southern Appalachia. Over the course of one humid summer, this novel's intriguing protagonists face disparate predicaments but find connections to one another and to the flora and fauna with which they necessarily share a place. 

Gosh, I really liked this book. I didn't love it, but I did really really like it. I picked it up on a whim at the used book store for a couple of reasons: a) It's been a while since I read any Kingsolver. And b) It's April and I am desperate for something, anything, related to summer. So, all that along with a beautiful green and leafy cover, how could I resist? It was just what I was in the mood for and I was not disappointed.

I liked the strong women characters and the way they handled their crises; I liked all the hot, humid, summery references; and I liked how the story lines gradually wove together, almost imperceptibly at first, to come to the best possible conclusion. Really, I couldn't have asked for a better ending. It wasn't necessarily a happy ending, just a really good one. I put the book down and immediately started missing it. How do authors do that?!

There were, however, a few small things I had issues with. *spoilers* The portrayal of the town curmudgeon, Garnett Walker, could not have been more stock saying things like 'tarnation' and 'new fangled'. Oh please. *eye roll* He was annoyingly overdone. And then the love stories. I guess I could see where it was going, but I would have liked Deanna to give Eddie the boot looong before he finally left claiming he'd 'met his match'. Who was this guy anyway? Go away. And then Lusa with her overbearing in-laws. Why did she stay on the farm after Cole died? I would have liked to have seen her forge out on her own, away from there. But she stayed and successfully worked the land on her own terms even gaining the grudging respect of her in-law's. Good for her.

So, yes. A good summer read while I'm waiting for summer to begin.


BookQuoter said...

I just posted another book of hers today too!

This one sounds good. I like that the three stories come together in the end. And yes, even if its not a happy ending, as long as it makes sense. Thanks.

Lee said...

I know what you mean about a character's language becoming an irksome presence in an otherwise enjoyable book. An example of this for me is "Little Bee." I was annoyed by the little boy's "Is you a baddie?" talk.

Great review.

Beth said...

thanks girl...gonna look for this one.

Sam said...

I really like Kingsolver, although I've only read The Lacuna and The Poisonwood Bible. I liked both of those so much that I'm almost scared to read anything else by her, in case it doesn't live up to expectations!

Trish said...

bookquoter - she has a knack for keeping multiple story threads going at once. I remember The Poisonwood Bible being like that as well. Great review you did over there! And as usual you posted some fabulous quotes :)

lee- otherwise good writing can forgive some annoying dialogue, but there's only so much of that I can take.

beth - I hope you like it!

sam - I know what you mean. The Lacuna is on my TBR shelf and I'm a little worried that my hopes will be too high! As for Prodigal Summer, I've seen other reviews say it was 'not typical of her style', and 'not one of her better ones' but I really don't know enough of her work to be able to tell one way or the other. I really liked it as it was.

Good luck ;)

Robyn said...

Oh, one of my favorite books, Trish. I also love the strong women characters and the way everyone's story gradually weaves together, but not really. I agree with you about Deanna's guy. It would have been nice for her to boot him instead of the other way around, but still a lovely read. I'm a new follower! Great blog.

Anne Bennett said...

I remember really liking this book when I read it and now I can't remember much about it. Sigh.

Tracy said...

This one sounds interesting - I want to read more books by this author. I absolutely loved The Lacuna (my review is appearing in a week's time, once we've discussed it at bookclub). I don't think you'll be disappointed with it, Trish!

Trish said...

robyn - thanks!

anne - ha! Yes that happens to me too. That's part of the reason I started recording my thoughts in here so that I could better remember the books I read.

tracy - oh good, I'll look out for your review.