In the High Peaks

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Barbara Kingsolver Meeting

Every other Monday, our "Novel Revisers" group meets. We're hangers-on from the annual NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), when our members attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in the 30 days of November. This coming November will be our fourth year together. At this point, we have a number of people, myself included, who spend November revising novels we've written in previous Novembers. And just three of us--Kate, Sheila, and I--try to work on revising our novels all year long, thinking that maybe, someday, we'll actually be able to declare them finished.

So today we met and got into a deep discussion about Barbara Kingsolver's novels. We talked about her flair for characterization, which is stirring Kate. I was so excited to see her so excited, because I realized the impact that Kingsolver's influence could have on Kate's novel. Kate was talking about Prodigal Summer, which is my favorite of Kingsolver's novels, and the favorite of many of my friends here, because it's set in the wilds and the farm country of Appalachia.

Kate is about to turn to The Lacuna, Kingsolver's 2009 novel, which has been short-listed for the Orange Prize. I haven't read it yet. So what's wrong with me? Too many books! I can't get it from the library now because Kate's reading group has borrowed lots of library copies. I know Ken will love it, so when we go to the bookstore tomorrow, we'll just have to buy it.

My second-favorite Kingsolver novel? Oh, for sure, The Poisonwood Bible! Like The Lacuna, which is set in Mexico, I was not drawn to Poisonwood Bible's Congo setting at first. But on the strongest recommendations of friends, I read it and was mesmerized. It's a spell-binding piece of literature that draws the reader in to the universe Kingsolver creates. And it's unforgettable. And I loved the multiple viewpoints! So artfully done!


  1. I'm having to add so many names to my list. I haven't read any by Kingsolver but I saw her on T.V. last night winning the Orange Fiction Prize for The Lacuna. She gave a very short but good speech.

  2. I'm so glad to find another reader who places 'Prodigal Summer' at the top of her list. It was the first of Kingsolver's books that I read and I still think it unsurpassed, although I have yet to read 'Lacuna'.

  3. After reading Animal Vegetable Miracle, I want to read Prodigal Summer. Hope I like it as much as you did.

  4. I love love love Kingsolver's novels, although I must confess that Prodigal Summer is my least favourite so far (I haven't read The Lacuna yet). Maybe I should read it again!