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Unsheltered: A Novel

Unsheltered: A Novel


Unsheltered: A Novel

ratings:
4/5 (208 ratings)
Length:
16 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Oct 16, 2018
ISBN:
9780062865502
Format:
Audiobook

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Description

The New York Times bestselling author of Flight Behavior, The Lacuna, and The Poisonwood Bible and recipient of numerous literary awards—including the National Humanities Medal, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the Orange Prize—returns with a timely novel that interweaves past and present to explore the human capacity for resiliency and compassion in times of great upheaval.

Willa Knox has always prided herself on being the embodiment of responsibility for her family. Which is why it's so unnerving that she's arrived at middle age with nothing to show for her hard work and dedication but a stack of unpaid bills and an inherited brick home in Vineland, New Jersey, that is literally falling apart. The magazine where she worked has folded, and the college where her husband had tenure has closed. The dilapidated house is also home to her ailing and cantankerous Greek father-in-law and her two grown children: her stubborn, free-spirited daughter, Tig, and her dutiful debt-ridden, ivy educated son, Zeke, who has arrived with his unplanned baby in the wake of a life-shattering development.

In an act of desperation, Willa begins to investigate the history of her home, hoping that the local historical preservation society might take an interest and provide funding for its direly needed repairs. Through her research into Vineland's past and its creation as a Utopian community, she discovers a kindred spirit from the 1880s, Thatcher Greenwood.

A science teacher with a lifelong passion for honest investigation, Thatcher finds himself under siege in his community for telling the truth: his employer forbids him to speak of the exciting new theory recently published by Charles Darwin. Thatcher's friendships with a brilliant woman scientist and a renegade newspaper editor draw him into a vendetta with the town's most powerful men. At home, his new wife and status-conscious mother-in-law bristle at the risk of scandal, and dismiss his financial worries and the news that their elegant house is structurally unsound.

Brilliantly executed and compulsively listenable, Unsheltered is the story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum, as they navigate the challenges of surviving a world in the throes of major cultural shifts. In this mesmerizing story told in alternating chapters, Willa and Thatcher come to realize that though the future is uncertain, even unnerving, shelter can be found in the bonds of kindred—whether family or friends—and in the strength of the human spirit.

Publisher:
Released:
Oct 16, 2018
ISBN:
9780062865502
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as ebookEbook

About the author

Barbara Kingsolver is the author of ten bestselling works of fiction, including the novels Unsheltered, 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 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 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for the body of her work. She lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia. 



Reviews

What people think about Unsheltered

4.2
208 ratings / 53 Reviews
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Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    Barbara Kingsolver is such a skilled writer it is so easy to immediately get immersed in the stories. Mary Treat was a really interesting character and I was happy to learn at the end that she was a real person. I felt Kingsolver was kind of hittin gus over the head with the themes of crisis and change in society, which brings my rating down. As an archivist and museum professional I was also annoyed by the eccentric historical society man--especially at the end when he accepted the blanket and said he'd provide an appraisal and receipt! Totally not correct, which was an unsatisfying detail in an otherwise well researched novel.
  • (4/5)
    Willa and her husband Iano are forced to move after he loses his job in academia and the housing that came with it. They settle in Vineland, NJ, not far from Philadelphia where Iano will take up a new teaching position. WIlla plans a return to freelance journalism to supplement Iano’s income, but almost immediately the family is thrown into crisis when adult daughter Tig arrives on their doorstep, and son Zeke faces unbearable tragedy. Iano’s father is also in poor health, and Willa shoulders most of the day-to-day responsibility for his care. And then their house starts falling apart, and an inspection identifies a need for several very expensive structural repairs. It’s almost too much for one family to bear.Unsheltered is also the story of Thatcher Greenwood, a late 1800s high school science teacher living in Vineland -- in fact, in the very house Willa and her family now occupy. Thatcher and his family are also recent arrivals to Vineland, but he immediately ran afoul of school authorities by teaching Darwin’s theories. Thatcher’s story is told alongside Willa’s through alternating chapters, a technique Kingsolver uses to show the parallels between those who refuted the theory of evolution and those who today refuse to accept climate change. I liked much of Kingsolver’s literary technique in this novel. The past- and present-day narratives worked very well, and the mini-cliffhangers at the end of each chapter left me wanting more, every time. The challenging mother-daughter relationship is excellently portrayed, but with Tig as the voice of environmental stewardship, the relationship is often overshadowed by Tig’s tendency to launch into diatribes about ruining the planet. This preachiness is characteristic of Kingsolver’s novels. Tor the most part I managed to accept it and enjoy the historic and present-day storylines, but it still affected my overall impression of the book. I read this for a book club and expect it will provide plenty of fuel for discussion.
  • (5/5)
    Willa Knox has always prided herself on being the embodiment of responsibility for her family. Which is why it’s so unnerving that she’s arrived at middle age with nothing to show for her hard work and dedication but a stack of unpaid bills and an inherited brick home in Vineland, New Jersey, that is literally falling apart. The magazine where she worked has folded, and the college where her husband had tenure has closed. The dilapidated house is also home to her ailing and cantankerous Greek father-in-law and her two grown children: her stubborn, free-spirited daughter, Tig, and her dutiful debt-ridden, ivy educated son, Zeke, who has arrived with his unplanned baby in the wake of a life-shattering development.In an act of desperation, Willa begins to investigate the history of her home, hoping that the local historical preservation society might take an interest and provide funding for its direly needed repairs. Through her research into Vineland’s past and its creation as a Utopian community, she discovers a kindred spirit from the 1880s, Thatcher Greenwood.A science teacher with a lifelong passion for honest investigation, Thatcher finds himself under siege in his community for telling the truth: his employer forbids him to speak of the exciting new theory recently published by Charles Darwin. Thatcher’s friendships with a brilliant woman scientist and a renegade newspaper editor draw him into a vendetta with the town’s most powerful men. At home, his new wife and status-conscious mother-in-law bristle at the risk of scandal, and dismiss his financial worries and the news that their elegant house is structurally unsound.
  • (4/5)
    An enjoyable read. Characters are well developed. Uses the popular device of switching back and forth between one story and another in the same setting but very different times culturally. Commentary on a planned development and what its leaders really desired. Great study of sibling rivalry and how parents relate to very different children. Leaves the reader a bit sad.
  • (4/5)
    Once again Kingsolver tries to make us open our eyes to what humans are doing to the planet. When will it be too late? Is it already?Kept trying to put the parallels between the time periods into words but luckily the author did it for me with Willa thinking about the Thatcher time period --Mary's correspondence with her scientist friends suggested the gentle Victorians of Vineland, and America for that matter, had shit for brains. They resisted Darwin's logic and rationality in general, to an extent that struck Willa as nuts. A great shift was dawning, with the human masters' place in the kingdom much reduced from its former glory. She could see how this might lead to a sense of complete disorientation in the universe. But still. The old paradigm was an obsolete shell; the writing on the wall was huge. They just wouldn't read.I imagine Tig could say the exact same about her mother's generation and her grandfather's generation. Willa can't see it going on around her but she could see it in the past.
  • (1/5)
    Probably read 80%, founding it boring and tiresome like walking through sludge. It is about the occupants of the same house many generations apart. If the story was split in half it would have been a fun read, but the switching centuries with each chapter made it arduous. I think I would have preferred a science book.