Desert Isle Keeper
When I finished Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible one afternoon last January, I just knew I had to write a DIK review of it. It was the most thought-provoking and compelling book I had read in some time. As it happened, I ended up going into labor and having a baby that night instead, so the review never got written. When I finished her latest novel, Prodigal Summer, I decided to “right the wrong” by writing a DIK review of it instead. Not to fear: this isn’t like an Oscar awarded more for past work than the current endeavor. Prodigal Summer is every bit as DIK worthy as Poisonwood Bible.
Prodigal Summer is actually three stories in one, all set in or around a small Appalachian town. Each has its own title. The three stories begin separately, but as the book progresses the stories converge; they begin sharing characters in common and the reader can see how they are all part of the whole.
Moth Love is about Lusa, an entomologist turned farmer’s wife. When Lusa loses her husband in a car accident, she must decide what to do with her life, and how to fit in with her husband’s relatives. Nearly everyone in his family is leery of Lusa’s city ways and strange ideas, and they expect her to go right back to Lexington and her old life. But Lusa finds that the farm calls to her, and she decides to fully embrace her life there and find her place in her husband’s family.
Old Chestnuts is mostly about Garnett Walker, an elderly, retired man whose mission in life is to save the American chestnut tree (which has been mostly eradicated by blight) by crossing it with the Chinese chestnut. Garnett is a widower who is estranged from his son. His eyesight isn’t what it used to be, and he doesn’t get out much. For years he has been feuding with his neighbor, Nannie Rawley, who runs an organic orchard. The two of them butt heads over everything from God to pesticides.
Predators centers around Deanna, a forest ranger with the National Park Service. She lives in solitude in a cabin on a mountain, basically communing with nature and keeping the forest safe from hunters and poachers. Her world shifts when she encounters Eddie Bondo, a man from the west who is in the area to hunt coyotes. Deanna actually wrote her master’s thesis on coyotes and is very opposed to the idea of hunting them (or any predator). But while she and Eddie don’t see eye to eye on this issue, he still slips into her life – and into her bed – while they pass a summer together.