I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am about this novel. Barbara Kingsolver knows how to push all my reading buttons. She’s struck a giant chord yet again with UNSHELTERED. This timely new novel is going to have every reader talking. And every bookclub across America will be putting UNSHELTERED at the top of their to-read list this year.
Told in two time periods and alternate chapters, we first meet Willa Knox who never expected her middle years to be so riddled with angst. First, she’s lost her job when the magazine she wrote for folded. Then the college where her husband had tenure, closed. Her mean-spirited Greek father-in-law has been moved into their home and Willa finds herself having to spend large chunks of her day caring for this ungrateful man who is obese and dealing with life-threatening illnesses. Toss into the mix her difficult adult daughter Tig and her son Zeke who undergoes a life-shattering event very early on in the novel. This woman is stressed out. To the max! Makes me feel guilty complaining about a sore toe.
And, did I mention the other big thing Willa has to cope with? How could I forget that. The house. The house they moved into has been passed to them through the family. And it’s got no foundation. Literally. Crumbling around them. Truly.
The other story is told in the voice of a science teacher. Time period 1881. He lives on the same street in Vineland, New Jersey as Willa, only one difference. Willa lives in 2016. Thatcher Greenwood is on a soap box to let everyone know about Charles Darwin and his brilliant new book. It’s very controversial and he’s getting a lot of flack. He may get chased out of town for it. He’s moved into the house with his new bride and her mother and sister. It’s complicated. The house has a crumbling foundation. Yes, even then. His home life is almost unbearable. So he discovers a friendship with the lady botanist next door.
Honestly, I truly related to Willa even though I have not experienced any of the things she deals with in this novel. But she has so much on her plate as a woman, I think all women will take note. Some of the scenes where she is trying to help her father-in-law made me want to thrash the man.
There are moral, political and social issues in this new novel. It’s so timely. Who of us ever thought we’d be in the midst of the revolution we are experiencing in this country, right now? Our worlds have changed. Kingsolver knocks it out of the park here.
Barbara Kingsolver first came to me with THE POISONWOOD BIBLE many years ago. It has since become the classic it deserves to be. Barbara moved to a village in the Republic of the Congo in 1963 when she was only seven-years-old. Her father was a Dr. and he was trying to contain smallpox and leprosy. They lived in a thatched hut with no plumbing or electricity. She set THE POISONWOOD BIBLE in that locale. She nailed it, of course.
Her novel, FLIGHT BEHAVIOR, deals with climate change. THE LACUNA is about censorship. She’s no stranger to controversy.
lives on a sheep farm in rural Virginia in southern Appalachia. She’s very unassuming and is a self-proclaimed introvert. I love that about her. Her life is very quiet. But her fiction is quite LOUD!
What will this story leave you with? You will be in awe of the human capacity for resiliency and compassion.
My review copy arrived from Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review. I absolutely LOVED it!!
We will have copies of UNSHELTERED by Barbara Kingsolver for sale at
Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida on Tuesday, October 16th, pub day. You can even purchase online from our revised website. We can’t wait to see or hear from you!