"Prodigal Summer" by Barbara Kingsolver

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This is a lovely tale of interweaving narratives, taking place in an Appalachian wilderness. Kingsolver's themes are survival of loss, the cycle of fertility, wildlife management - and the author deals with these themes in a lush, vivid, gratifying way. She brings quite a bit of expertise to the technical side, and truckloads of wisdom and compassion to the human side.

Amid the lush surroundings of a Southern Appalachain summer, three nearly independent stories play themselves out. We see the park ranger, a solitary, countrified, girl get caught up in a "Summer of Procreation," reflecting and participating in the lusty urges that take over in summer. This is also the thread in which the Ms. Kingsolver speaks through the ranger, admonishing a would-be coyote hunter of the unintended results of hunting.

Ms. Kingsolver also displays technical expertise in the sad but hopeful story of the transplanted city girl who is widowed but makes a new business opportunity from what is readily at hand.

I have seen objections to the author's perceived pontifications, but in this case, I see a balanced message, backed by a certain amount of science. And when it is propounded in such lush, vivid, captivating terms, the aesthete in me trounces any debating urge I might have. This is lovely. Take it up!
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