Sunday, May 29, 2011

Prodigal Summer

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver is an oldie (2001) but goodie, and was a perfect start to my summer. The language and prose of this book made me recall lazy summers when I was a child, endless days outside, checking out bugs, laying in the grass under the big tree in my old backyard. So green and fresh and full of promise.

There are three main co-protaganists in this story - The "Predators" section, with Deanna Wolfe, who is a solitary wildlife ranger living on the top of a mountain, and she is a guardian for all life that lives there; "Moth Love", the story Lusa Landowski, an academic scholar of insects from the city who finds herself widowed and living among a large family of in-laws on the family farm ; and "Chestnuts", which is the story of Garnett Walker, a slightly canterkous old man who is devoting the rest of his life to saving the dying Chestnut trees in his region, while finding himself perpetually irritated by the woman next door and her organic ways. These three occupy the same mountain, and their lives are interconnected in small ways. This book has been described as being sexual, and while I find it lush and sensual in parts, I think it is just pointing out that nature is always propagating itself, and reproducing, from the smallest insect to the wider world.

My favorite character and storyline was Lusa's. She is such a dynamic character, who finds a way to make her place on the farm, and in the family, slowly but surely through intelligence, creative thinking, and by just not caring what others thought, and doing it her own way. And it didn't hurt that she raised goats, which is something I would love! I wouldn't want to raise them to slaughter, I would only want a few for milk and cheese. I love how she slowly began to have a better understanding of her sisters in law, and they of her.

I thought the Deanna storyline bothersome - I wanted to like her more than I did. I usually like any character who is about saving nature, not killing animals and just being as in tune to the wild as Deanna was, but her relationship with Eddie Bondo seemed unrealistic to me. I could never have a relationship with someone who was so far on the other side of an issue that I was passionate about - I couldn't understand how Deanna could want to save the coyotes yet could rationalize sleeping with someone who was there solely to kill them. I guess she won in the end, in at least one way.

There was beauty, magic and poetry in this book. I became immersed in it, and while I usually breeze through books, this one made me stop and think. This book was about the balance of life, how no one can be truly alone, loss, rebirth, and how all life is interconnected, woven together with invisible strands.

"Solitude is a human presumption. Every quiet step is thunder to beetle life underfoot, a tug of impalpable thread on the web pulling mate to mate and predator to prey, a beginning or an end. Every choice is a world made new for the chosen." Barbara Kingsolver, Prodigal Summer

1 comment:

  1. I did love this book. So very lush and perfect for summer reading.


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