Summary: Three intertwining story lines in a rural Kentucky community
After reading Poisonwood Bible and Flight Behavior at the end of last year I still wanted more Barbara Kingsolver. I really do think she is one of the best living novelist and I wanted more. So I picked up Prodigal Summer because it was on sale for $2.99 on kindle. (Back down to that price)
My wife and I read it together around the time it originally came out. Of the books I have read by Kingsolver it is the lightest. Kingsolver likes to deal with heavy subjects.
The main themes of this book are still heavy, the evolutionary process, what it means to survive when it requires others to die to support us, finding a new place as the world changes around you, etc. But it also is the most traditional romantic story of the Kingsolver books I have read.
There are three story lines that only come together at the very end of the book. One is about a Forest Ranger that has left the world. Her husband left her for another woman, her father died and she care more for the animals under her watch than the humans that keep hurting her.
A second woman is a newlywed, new to the rural Kentucky community and not trusted by her husband’s strange extended family. She was a ‘bug scientist’ and does not easily fit into simple rural community where she finds herself with her new husband. But she finds herself at home in the farming life in ways that she could not have dreamed.
The third story is about a crotchety old man. His wife died eight years ago. His family used to own most of the valley, but after a blight killed most of the Chestnut trees they slowly lost their land until it is only his small farm left. He is aging and his life’s goal, to breed a version of the Chestnut that is immune to the blight, increasingly looks like it will never be realized.
This was the only book I read over Christmas break. It is nearly 700 pages and I was fairly burned out (and did not have a lot of time to read). But it is a book that is worth reading. Not as ‘important’ as some of Kingsolver’s other books, it is still very well written and an enjoyable read.
- Flight Behavior: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver – Favorites of 2012 (bookwi.se)
- The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver (bookwi.se)