Sunday, 9 January 2011

Book Review - Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

Synopsis - This book weaves together three stories of love within a larger tapestry of lives inhabiting the forested mountains and struggling farms of southern Appalachia.  From her outpost in an isolated mountain cabin, a reclusive wildlife biologist watches a den of coyotes that have recently migrated into the region.  She is caught off guard by a young hunter who invades her most private spaces and confounds her self-assured, solitary life.  On a farm several miles down the mountain, a young wife finds herself unexpectedly marooned in a strange place where she must declare or lose her attachment to the land that has become her own.  Further on down the road, a pair of elderly, feuding neighbours tend their respective farms and argue about God, pesticides and the possibilities of a future neither of them expected.
Review - This was a breath of fresh air and a wonderful start to my New Year reading.  My first (I hope) of many Kingsolver books this was a very welcome read after some rather mundane reading in the run up to Christmas.  When I opened this book within the first few pages I was transported to the mountain where Deanna Wolfe spent her life, I could smell, breathe, visualise and even hear her voice.  This is the kind of writing that I love, keeping you enthralled from beginning to end.  I found this book educational, learning about the flora, fauna and creatures of that country.  The debate about natural, organic farming methods versus chemicals and how these two theories can be brought together by one person educating another.  The debate about preserving the predators that farmers hate against killing them to ensure farm livestock is not preyed upon by these animals.  The theory on how taking out these predatorial creatures can increase the prey or in the case of the coyotes can increase reproduction.  I loved the way the characters intertwined.  The link with Deanna and Nannie Rawlins, the link between the Wideners and Garnett Walker.  A very well written book which flowed beautifully from chapter to chapter.  4*

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