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A complex web of human and natural struggle and interdependency is analyzed with an invigorating mixture of intelligence and warmth.

In a vividly detailed Appalachian setting, several seemingly incompatible lives come into initially troubling proximity during one event-filled summer. All of the aforementioned are interesting, complicated, ornery creatures themselves, and Kingsolver The Poisonwood Bible , 19xx, etc.

The dialogue virtually leaps off the page as the various parties learn a great deal about one another—and themselves. With humor and insight, Straub creates a family worth rooting for.

When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus run over a longtime acquaintance of hers—Barbara Baker, a woman she doesn't like very much—it's only the beginning of the shake-ups to come in her life and the lives of those she loves. Astrid has been tootling along contentedly in the Hudson Valley town of Clapham, New York, a year-old widow with three grown children. After many years of singlehood since her husband died, she's been quietly seeing Birdie Gonzalez, her hairdresser, for the past two years, and after Barbara's death she determines to tell her children about the relationship: "There was no time to waste, not in this life.

There were always more school buses. Nicky, the youngest Strick, is disconcertingly famous for having appeared in an era-defining movie when he was younger and now lives in Brooklyn with his French wife, Juliette, and their daughter, Cecelia, who's being shipped up to live with Astrid for a while after her friend got mixed up with a pedophile she met online.

As always, Straub Modern Lovers , , etc. The cast is realistically diverse, though in most ways it's fairly superficial; the fact that Birdie is Latina or Porter's obstetrician is African American doesn't have much impact on the story or their characters.

Cecelia's new friend, August, wants to make the transition to Robin; that storyline gets more attention, with the two middle schoolers supporting each other through challenging times. The Stricks worry about work, money, sex, and gossip; Straub has a sharp eye for her characters' foibles and the details of their liberal, upper-middle-class milieu. A daring concept not so daringly developed. Ana is the daughter of Matthias, head scribe to Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee.

She demonstrates an exceptional aptitude for writing, and Matthias, for a time, indulges her with reed pens, papyri, and other 16 C. Her mother disapproves, but her aunt, Yaltha, mentors Ana in the ways of the enlightened women of Alexandria, from whence Yaltha, suspected of murdering her brutal husband, was exiled years before.

Yaltha was also forced to give up her daughter, Chaya, for adoption. As Ana reaches puberty, parental tolerance of her nonconformity wanes, outweighed by the imperative to marry her off. Her adopted brother, Judas—yes, that Judas—is soon disowned for his nonconformity—plotting against Antipas. Their connection deepens after she encounters Jesus in the cave where she is concealing her writings about oppressed women.

There, poverty, not sexism, prohibits her from continuing her writing—office supplies are expensive. Problem avoided when, notified by Judas that Antipas is seeking her arrest, she and Yaltha journey to Alexandria in search of Chaya. Already have an account?

Log in. Trouble signing in? Retrieve credentials. Sign Up. Prodigal Summer is another triumphant vindication of her very distinctive art.

Pub Date: Nov. Page Count: Publisher: HarperCollins. No Comments Yet. More by Barbara Kingsolver. Page Count: Publisher: Riverhead. Review Posted Online: Feb. More by Emma Straub.

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Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

And that it was very many hours long. Rather, these are tales of three people living different lives in the same broad area in Virginia. It covers a single summer, transformative for each of them in different ways. They are:. It is a rich a complex novel.



Alone on her mountain, Deanna is hugging a secret. A coyote pack has recently moved to the Appalachian Mountains overlooking Zebulon Valley, Virginia, where this story is set. Despite Deanna's determination to protect them, the coyotes' fate is precarious. Will they survive the malevolence of farmers and bounty hunters to the last page of Prodigal Summer? This suspense is but one of the many factors that makes Barbara Kingsolver's latest novel a haunting page-turner. Deanna has more in common with Lusa, a young widow living in the valley, than either woman knows.


Hillbillies and other animals

Barbara Kingsolver. In Prodigal Summer she returns in a sense to her own back yard, although her marvellously subtle and compelling tale of a southern Appalachian farming community in tense interplay with the wilderness on its doorstep contains a deft parable of humankind's place in nature. The novel alternates between three stories whose links gradually emerge, in a tiny community of people where, as one perplexed newcomer remarks: "Everybody within 16 miles of here is uncle or cousin to you someways. The divorcee's two-year solitude is disturbed by Eddie Bondo, a rifle-toting Wyoming sheep rancher some 20 years her junior, for whom "hating coyotes is my religion", yet who draws her into an irresistible, ambivalent affair. Down in the valley, in Deanna's hometown of Egg Fork, Lusa Landowski, a city-born entomologist and newly widowed, clings to an epiphany of her husband, Cole Widener: she sees their love, carried in the scent of honeysuckle across a field, as akin to the language of moths, which navigate by sense of smell. As Lusa battles with the harsh maths of subsistence farming to rear goats rather than harvest tobacco on her late husband's land, she grows closer to her five seemingly hostile sisters-in-law and their maverick children, while evading the attentions of their menfolk.

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