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Unsheltered Kindle Edition
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|Length: 397 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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"Barbara Kingsolver does something amazing in her new novel...Uncovering and appreciating the connections between the two stories, historical and contemporary, is the best reason to read the book...Both stories are compelling as Thatcher and Willa lead their families during dangerously uncertain times." --Associated Press
"Riveting...A tour de force of fiction...about this dynamic conflict between individual expression and communal belonging...One of the most magical parts of UNSHELTERED is how Kingsolver skillfully blends her two narratives into one unified tale, with past and present repeatedly mirroring each other." --BookPage
"Kingsolver brilliantly captures both the price of profound change and how it can pave the way not only for future generations, but also for a radiant, unexpected expansion of the heart."--O: The Oprah Magazine, 15 Best Books of 2018
"Kingsolver's dual narrative works beautifully. By giving us a family and a world teetering on the brink in 2016, and conveying a different but connected type of 19th-century teetering, Kingsolver creates a sense...that as humans we're inevitably connected through the possibility of collapse, whether it's the collapse of our houses, our bodies, logic, the social order or earth itself...In this engaged and absorbing novel, the two narratives reflect each other, reminding us of the dependability and adaptiveness of our drive toward survival."--Meg Wolitzer, New York Times Book Review
"Utterly captivating...Keenly observed and thought-provoking...Kingsolver's much-demonstrated talent for developing truly believable characters is, once again, on full display...Perhaps, more importantly, it's the characters' hardscrabble circumstances--especially in the modern story--that resonate right down to the bone."--San Francisco Chronicle
"A return to the more ambitious, grand scale of novels such as The Lacuna and The Poisonwood Bible...A lively and vividly peopled novel of ideas...Clear throughout the novel is a tension between self-reliance and interdependence."--The Guardian (feature)
"As always, Kingsolver gives readers plenty to think about. Her warm humanism coupled with an unabashed point of view make her a fine 21st-century exponent of the honorable tradition of politically engaged fiction."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Barbara Kingsolver's latest novel, Unsheltered, will make you weep...But Kingsolver is also downright hilarious...Unsheltered is also a sociopolitical novel tackling real-world issues, especially how we humans navigate profound changes that threaten to unmoor us."--O, the Oprah Magazine
"Exceptionally involving and rewarding...There is much to delight in and think about while reveling in Kingsolver's vital characters, quicksilver dialogue, intimate moments, dramatic showdowns, and lushly realized milieus...An enveloping, tender, witty, and awakening novel of love and trauma, family and survival, moral dilemmas and intellectual challenges..."--Booklist (starred review) --This text refers to the paperback edition.
About the Author
Barbara Kingsolver is the author of nine bestselling works of fiction, including the novels, Flight Behavior, The Lacuna, The Poisonwood Bible, Animal Dreams, and The Bean Trees, as well as books of poetry, essays, and creative nonfiction. Her work of narrative nonfiction is the enormously influential bestseller Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. Kingsolver's work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has earned literary awards and a devoted readership at home and abroad. She was awarded the National Humanities Medal, our country's highest honor for service through the arts, as well as the prestigious Dayton Literary Peace Prize for her body of work. She lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia.--This text refers to the paperback edition.
- ASIN : B07F7JG8MX
- Publisher : Faber & Faber (16 October 2018)
- Language : English
- File size : 684 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 397 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 46,024 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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I found the contemporary story of Willa and family more appealing than the parallel story of Vineland in the 1870’s with the contest of ideas between science and religion.
I enjoyed Tig with her feisty can-do attitude and willingness to live with less and be happy.
Mother and daughter and its evolution over the story were incredibly touching and sadly exactly reflect my feelings and conclusions about the nature of humanity and life today. I loved the story of Mary Treat and loved the two worlds in two different times equally. Both complimented each other to make some powerful points about human nature and how little we have changed. If anything for the worse. Wonderful book which had so many threads with so many themes but all felt well tended and integral. Deeply satisfying with lots of food for thought, enjoyable and to me so very complete.
Top reviews from other countries
Within pages, I cared deeply for the modern heroine Willa Knox, whose house is disintegrating around her and whose son has foisted his newborn baby on her after the death of his wife. Thatcher Greenwood is a science teacher in 1871 who fights a daily battle to be able to teach Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection to his students, and who finds an ally in a neighbour, Mary Treat – an extraordinary character whom we first meet as she holds her finger inside a man-eating plant.
This is historical timeslip fiction at its absolute best. The two stories knit together and reflect each other perfectly, with the bombastic Mr Cutler, Thatcher’s boss, showing the same blinkered stupidity and callousness as the man campaigning to be President in 2016. There’s nothing predictable about the way the story goes, but through the course of 461 beautifully written pages, it makes us question the very foundations of life and the way we choose to live it. It’s a masterclass in the modern novel – and if you buy the hardcover, it’s a rather lovely object in its own right!
There are two narratives in this novel: two families face their own disintegration in a crumbling New Jersey house more than 150 years apart. The ever-present danger of collapsing roof and walls gives the book its theme as well as its title - the lady scientist in the 1870’s narrative says to her teacher friend: “Teach them to see evidence and not to fear it, to stand in the clear light of day...Unsheltered.
The 1870’s narrative is Kingsolver’s reminder to us that, however chaotic and violent our world is today, social and political upheaval is nothing new: the collision of Darwin’s theory of evolution and Bible-based creationism was equally catastrophic in the late 19th century.
The social issue for the modern-day family is the danger of failing to use the earth’s resources responsibly, given the stark evidence of climate change - not the first time Kingsolver delivers that message.
Two elements in particular secured my fondness for this book. First, as always with Kingsolver, there is the piercing truth and humour of the language, always a thrill to read. And second is the beautifully developed mother-daughter portrait of Willa and Tig. Raised by close and attentive parents, Tig goes her own inexplicable way but the anchoring love between her and her baffled mother remains intact.
As I neared the end of the book, I really regretted having to say goodbye to these characters and this fine, perceptive writing. So please let me never again think that Kingsolver hasn’t hit one out of the park.
Have you ever had a friend who just love, but she can't get out of her own way? This is how I'm starting to feel about Barbara Kingsolver's writing. She is so talented. She's funny and smart and insightful. And she just can't get out of her own way!!
Once upon a time, Barbara Kingsolver wrote these amazing novels, exciting and emotionally powerful and page turners in the most exciting way; page turners because of the ideas inside them, not because of cheap thrills. Pigs in Heaven was a suspense novel about adoption and cultural appropriation; Poisonwood Bible about missionaries imposing their will in foreign countries. I say this because Ms. Kingsolver has always written about "politically correct' topics, she has always written with an agenda, but she used to be able to do it so skillfully that you didn't mind.
And hey. I'm an easy target. I share all her beliefs! I shouldn't mind being lectured, I happily read op eds at the NY Times all the time! But her last several novels have made me so frustrated, they've barely bothered to be books at all, they've just been lectures thinly disguised. I was so so hopeful that this one would be different, the advance word promised a return to form.
So I started reading with great glee. And yes. All the best of Barbara Kingsolver is there! She can create incredible worlds, in this case, two families living a century apart, sharing one disastrous house in one deeply flawed neighborhood. There is Willa, living such a perfect archeyptal life of the failing middle class family; and Thatcher, living at the dawn of the scientific age, when Darwinism and feminism are each just coming into view. The novel alternates chapters between these two stories, two families living in the same falling-apart home. (This is as subtle as the novel gets.)
She also is more funny than she often gets credit for; Polly, the budding feminist in Thatcher's house, interacting with her older sister Rose, a traditionalist, is funny! Willa's befuddlement at her incredibly PC daughter, and the occasional way that she deflates her daughter's self righteousness, is also funny. And of course, Ms. Kingsolver is in her sweet spot when writing about science, and the scientific discoveries taking place in Thatcher's time frame, with the eccentric female scientist who drives much of that story. I wonder if the novel had stayed in the past, if it might have worked a little bit better.
Because, sigh, in the present day scenes it just feels like a series of lectures. There is a dinner conversation in which the characters all debate the economy; another chapter dedicated to the failing health care system; another chapter dedicated to how hard it is to make a living in the gig economy; yes we get it! Everything is terrible! What feels frustrating about this is the sense that Ms. Kingsolver thinks she is teaching me something I didn't know, like a parent hiding vegetables in the mac and cheese. I would probably be okay with that if it tasted good, but it is just so obvious, that maybe that is what bothers me. Does she think I won't notice that I've been lectured to for an entire chapter? About something that I already know?
Anyway. I'm giving her four stars because....well, because I guess I found it less offensive than Lacuna, and also because, to be honest, my expectations for her have declined through the years. I liked the Thatcher chapters, and I skimmed the lectures, and I also recognize that at this point, she's unlikely to change.