Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. Another member of my library reading group gave me this book, by a writer I'd never heard of. But I'm very glad she did - it's a remarkable book, combining Kingsolver's experience as a scientist, and her very obvious passion for the natural world, with an engaging narrative style.
Here’s a Synopsis and comment, taken from an on-line review: ‘Prodigal Summer weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives inhabiting the forested mountains and struggling small farms of southern Appalachia. At the heart of these intertwined narratives is a den of coyotes that have recently migrated into the region. Deanna Wolfe, a reclusive wildlife biologist, watches the forest from her outpost in an isolated mountain cabin where she is caught off-guard by Eddie Bondo, a young hunter who comes to invade her most private spaces and confound her self-assured, solitary life. On a farm several miles down the mountain, another web of lives unfolds as Lusa Maluf Landowski, a bookish city girl turned farmer's wife, finds herself unexpectedly marooned in a strange place where she must declare or lose her attachment to the land. 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 complexities of a world neither of them expected.
Kingsolver writes as well, and as convincingly, about the human characters in her narrative as she does about the natural world and the creatures who inhabit it. Her theme is the interconnectedness, both of the humans and natural world they inhabit.Over the course of one humid summer, as the urge to procreate overtakes a green and profligate countryside, these characters find connections to one another and to the flora and fauna with which they necessarily share a place. Their discoveries are embedded inside countless intimate lessons of biology, the realities of small farming, and the final, urgent truth that humans are only one part of life on earth.’