Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"Prodigal Summer" by Barbara Kingsolver

I recently read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by the same author and found it to be one of the best and most meaningful books I have ever read. Then I found out that she also writes fiction, and actually has more works of fiction to her credit. So I decided to try one of those. This was picked randomly from among the choices, but it was a good choice.

Prodigal Summer contains three interconnected but fairly independent stories set in southern Appalachia, where the author actually lives on a farm with her family. There is the story of a female forest ranger who watches over the mountains, the story of a newly widowed young woman who now owns her husband's family farm and is trying to save it from going bankrupt, and the story of two elderly neighbors, a man and a woman, who cannot see eye to eye on most things but do have a hint of underlying sympathy for each other.

In this story, it's not just the people that are significant, it's all the flora and fauna around them that they are inevitably connected to. From moths to chestnut trees to snakes to coyotes, everything is part of the same ecosystem that we are and everything affects us in some way or the other. The author gets that message through to her readers in a very beautiful way. The way she talks about every creature being connected to every other creature, ecologically, is deliciously poetic and a pleasure to read.

All three stories have an important character who is a strong, independent woman who speaks her mind and does what she thinks is right, regardless of what anyone else thinks. A woman perfectly capable of looking after herself and everything else that needs looking after. That is another thing I liked about this story.

Not this minute (I think I should take a bit of a break) but I will definitely pick up more of Barbara Kingsolver's books in the near future.