When I was a child, I would stay up until all hours of the night reading by the nightlight I convinced my parents I still needed at ten or the flashlight I hid in my pillowcase (under the pillow being too obvious). As quickly as I devoured books, I remember the loneliness I felt when I finished one and the feeling that I couldn't go to sleep until I had read at least a few pages of a new book. As a grown-up, I still stay up too late reading from time to time, but I hadn't thought much about that peculiar sadness that comes from finishing a book you loved until I finished Prodigal Summer.
This was the first Barbara Kingsolver book that I read, despite many recommendations and I now completely understand why do many of my smart, strong, female, scientist friends loved this novel full of smart, strong, female scientists. The story covers a brief period of time but the characters have rich back-stories that unfold as the story progresses. I found the characters' world-views instantly relatable and enjoyed the way the several disparate stories wove together and set each other off.
The book really did have the feel of summer, slow but fulfilling. Like lying on a soft bed with the windows open as a warm breeze stirs the curtains- doing nothing but feeling utterly contented.