Prodigal Summer Author:Barbara Kingsolver A prodigal summer is the "season of extravagant procreation" and, from that point, the story begins. This procreation will be experienced by all different forms of life found within these pages. — It is a passionate adventure weaving together three stories in a corner of Appalachia called Zebulon Mountain. Alternating chapters with recurring nam... more »es signal which of the three protagonists is taking center stage.
In the chapters called "Predator," forest ranger Deanna Wolfe is a 40-plus wildlife biologist and staunch defender of coyotes, which have recently extended their range into Appalachia. Wyoming rancher Eddie Bondo also invades her territory, on a bounty hunt to kill the same nest of coyotes that Deanna is protecting. Their passionate but seemingly ill-fated affair takes place in summertime and mirrors "the eroticism of fecund woods."
The “Moth Love” chapters are devoted to Lusa Landowski, a young, beautiful city girl who has studied entomology and is now a bug expert and lover. She also inherits a farm and has to decide whether to stay in Zebulon Valley and commit to that lifestyle or return to Lexington, Kentucky.
The chapters called “Old Chestnuts” explore the relationship between Garnett Walker, an 80 year old widow, and his love affair with the chestnut tree. During his lifetime, he is trying to recreate this almost extinct tree type within his Zebulon Valley region. Added to this mission is his love/hate relationship with his neighbor, 75 year old Nannie Rawley, and owner of an organic apple orchard who opposes his use of pesticides.
Nannie lectures Garnett, "Everything alive is connected to every other by fine, invisible threads. Things you don't see can help you plenty, and things you try to control will often rear back and bite you, and that's the moral of the story." Structurally, that gossamer web is the story: images, phrases, and events link the narratives, and these echoes are rarely obvious, always serendipitous.
Midway through the book, the connections between these individuals begin to surface. Just as subtly, the connections between the underlying characters and their particular love of nature is explored.
There is an emphasis on the natural world, described in sensuous language and precise detail, focusing on the ecological damage caused by herbicides, ethical questions about raising tobacco, and the endangered condition of subsistence farming. Kingsolver poses questions: How to poison things without using poison? How predation is a sacrament? How birds never doubt their place at the center of the universe? How moths speak to each other via scent? How every quiet step is thunder to beetle life underfoot? All the answers lie within these pages.« less