Down the mountain, another web of lives unfolds as Lusa Maluf Landowski, a bookish city girl turned farmer's wife, finds herself in a strange place where she must declare or lose her attachment to the land that has become her own. And a few more miles down the road, a pair of elderly, feuding neighbors tend their respective farms and wrangle about God, pesticides, and the possibilities the future holds.
Over the course of one long summer, these characters find connections to one another, and to the land, and the final, urgent truth that humans are only one piece of life on earth.
©2000 Barbara Kingsolver; (P)2000 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
"Readers will be seduced by [Kingsolver's] effortless prose." (Publishers Weekly)
Let's face it, these authors aren't paying me, so there's no need to lie!!
First off, the reviews praising this book, the story (content) of this book, are spot on... it's GREAT! The story takes us into a world so filled with detail and stories about life and love, that you can't help but be sucked in. The book is borderline genius, plain and simple.
Now comes the part that truly amazes me about this audiobook. The publisher/producer decided to do 2 HUGE things to sabotage the success of this audiobook...
First, between each chapter there are LOUD, annoying bird "songs". Yes, birds chirp, seemingly out of nowhere, right in your ear when you're trying to listen to WORDS. This is annoying, jolting, and pointless. It literally adds NOTHING positive to the book, and only serves to annoy the heck out of you at times when you're really invested in this amazing story.
Second, and this is the big complaint... For some unknown/unexplainable reason, the author is unaware that there are "professional readers" out there that read (perform) many of the books on Audible. She's either unaware of this fact, or worse, she actually considers HERSELF a "professional reader". In my opinion, the latter is unforgivable, if true. Trust me, she's not anywhere close to being a "professional reader". She's terrible. Her character voices are laughable. Her inflections are usually misplaced and nonsensical. It's like having a child (an untalented child) read a book to you, and it sucks. You don't want this author reading ANYTHING to you , ever.
What this supreme misstep does do, however, is show just how incredible the story of this book actually is. Even with (what I would consider) one of the worst narrators in the history of Audible, the story still remains interesting, intriguing, and unique. I loved it from start to finish, and the author deserves ALL the credit for that. If the producers ever acquire the much-needed skill of common sense, they'll hire one of the many "professional readers" out there, remake this, and it will be 5 stars across the board, hands down.
As for now, the best I can say is, if you're willing to go through a bit of torture, a great story awaits you at the end.
If you're looking for a general lesson on ecological systems, then this book might be for you. If you're looking for a story with a plot, then skip this. Oddly enough, although there was no story at all, I ended up listening to the whole thing, (maybe hoping something would happen?)
Two stars may be a little harsh. When I first started listening I really had a problem with the narration, but as it went on, it kind of grew on me. I don't think I'd want to listen to her narrate books other than her own, but at least as the writer she knew what inflections she wanted.
Disappointment. As a scientist it was nice to see someone extolling the virtues of predator ecology, organic farming, and conserving species, but I would have preferred to have it wrapped in a story that had a point.
I absolutely adore Barbara Kingsolver as a writer and a narrator. Don't listen to anyone that says she as a writer should not be the narrator. I think this makes her more apt to be THE narrator because she knows where the ennunciations should be and the tone of the actual book. I LOVE the song bird audio between chapters. I have read the book various times I just love listening to her read her book the way it was meant to be read. A definite must.
Retired to mountains of California. Sell on eBay as Prsilla. No TV. Volunteer in wildlife rehab. Knit, sew or embroider while listening.
This is such a good book -- and for many repeated listens! -- that I'm afraid the more I say the more I might turn off someone deciding whether or not to listen to it. Nevertheless, I am going to listen again and again. I am going to burn the CD's for my Russian ESL student and give her the hardcover book to follow. Aside from anything else Kingsolver has written, this book stands by itself as a masterpiece and a rich and lovely listen. The author reads gently, calmly, not hurried. She can sound like a hillbilly or the educated woman she is. Some passages sound like a textbook or propaganda, because each character feels strongly about one aspect of creation. The listener gets to watch them interact with the world and each other. You can listen to find out what happens next. Then listen again for the poetry and relish the birdsong between chapters. Listen for the layers of meaning. There's a surprise for whoever listens to the last chapter and immediately begins the first chapter again. Lovely!
I've listened to this book twice, several years apart, and the same experience each time: slow to start, then it spirals, hunts and pounce. This is the only author-narrated book I've recommended to friends because Kingsolver's mountain voice is sly, wonderous and just about a perfect match for Prodigal Summer. I miss some of the characters, am glad for their successes. I love the overflowing bounty that slowly builds and erupts. It's the ordinariness that transforms into special.
I enjoy listening to books read by the author (when they can read well, which Kingsolver *does*).
This is really a lovely book and kept my interest better than other books written with this structure -- which is that it switches back and forth between 3 different stories of 3 differenet people, only related during the story by living in the same area.
Also, though I personally agree with Kingsolver's point of view, I think she comes off as a tiny bit too preachy or self satified in her essays. Here she manages to present her point of view in an interesting manner, without sacraficing the story. By making the story partly about the conflicts her characters run into because of their points of view, they are the story, instead of being interjected like vitamin shots.
Persnickety, curmudgeonly, locked into a long daily commute which is mitigated somewhat by listening to great books.
Its hard to find a better writer than Barbara Kingsolver. Audible's version has Kingsolver herself reading the book. Because the book has passages that require the accent of the blue ridge mountains, it is a bonus to have the author read it herself. Kingsolver's voice suits the material so well, you would think she speaks the lines out loud before writing them down.
This book excels in the same way Flight Behavior does - fusing the sensations of the natural world with the characters. Beautiful!
I like all of Kingsolver's writing -- I'd probably read the phone book twice if she wrote it -- but this is my favorite. The story lines are woven together as an elegant braid, or maybe a celtic knot... so beautifully constructed and tidy, with no loose ends. The characters are real and deep, imperfect and funny. Kingsolver herself is a marvelous reader who narrates with perfect understanding of her characters and how they were meant to speak. I have listened to this book several times on cassette, and when I recently joined Audible, I put this on my list right away- I know I will have reason to listen again and again, spend time with these characters as old friends and let Kingsolver's language and voice wash over me.
After thorougly enjoying "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" I am just starting to discover Barbara Kingsolver's books...and boy am I glad! She is an incredibly intelligent and talented writer. With 'Prodigal Summer' I found that, at first, I was not quite as taken as I had expected I'd be (based on the rave reviews). However, once I allowed the story to unfold, I found myself completely sucked into the magical, but very real world that Kingsolver has created through this story. It is a book that is richly textured and has so many themes intertwied and layered that it is sure to offer something for everyone....perhaps especially for those of us who love and wonder at the marvel of the natural world around us.
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