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Unsettled Ground
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Published:
Tin House Books 2021
Status:
Available from OverDrive
Description

"Full of dramatic twists and turns right up until its moving, beautiful end." —NPR Books


"Entrancing.... A brilliant and sly study of family." —The Los Angeles Times


Named a Best Book of the Month by Entertainment Weekly, PopSugar, Bustle, Chicago Review of Books, PureWow, a Best Book of Summer by Daily Beast and one of Good Housekeeping's 30 Best Books of 2021.


At fifty-one years old, twins Jeanie and Julius still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation in the English countryside. The cottage they have shared their entire lives is their only protection against the modernizing world around them. Inside its walls, they make music, and in its garden, they grow everything they need to survive. To an outsider, it looks like poverty; to them, it is home.


But when Dot dies unexpectedly, the world they've so carefully created begins to fall apart. The cottage they love, and the security it offered, is taken back by their landlord, exposing the twins to harsh truths and even harsher realities. Seeing a new future, Julius becomes torn between the loyalty he feels towards his sister and his desire for independence, while Jeanie struggles to find work and a home for them both. And just when it seems there might be a way forward, a series of startling secrets from their mother's past come to the surface, forcing the twins to question who they are, and everything they know of their family's history.


In Unsettled Ground, award-winning author Claire Fuller masterfully builds a tale of sacrifice and hope, of homelessness and hardship, of love and survival, in which two marginalized and remarkable people uncover long-held family secrets and, in their own way, repair, recover, and begin again.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
05/18/2021
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781951142490
ASIN:
B08LJBZ2NG
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Claire Fuller. (2021). Unsettled Ground. Tin House Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Claire Fuller. 2021. Unsettled Ground. Tin House Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Claire Fuller, Unsettled Ground. Tin House Books, 2021.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Claire Fuller. Unsettled Ground. Tin House Books, 2021. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
May 14, 2021 17:16:59
Date Updated:
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        Claire Fuller was born in Oxfordshire, England. She has written three novels: Our Endless Numbered Days, which won the Desmond Elliott Prize; Swimming Lessons; and Bitter Orange. She has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Winchester and lives in Hampshire with her husband.

        Author photo: © Adrian Harvey

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shortDescription

Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction

"So sharply, so utterly brilliant that I found myself holding my breath while reading, dazzled by Fuller's mastery and precision." —Lauren Groff

From the award-winning author of Our Endless Numbered Days, Swimming Lessons, and Bitter Orange comes a brilliant novel about an unusual family held together by a string of lies, a small town with too many questions, and a sudden death that threatens to undo them all.

At fifty-one years old, twins Jeanie and Julius still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation in the English countryside. The cottage they have shared their entire lives is their only protection against the modernizing world around them. Inside its walls, they make music, and in its garden, they grow everything they need to survive. To an outsider, it looks like poverty; to them, it is home.

But when Dot dies unexpectedly, the...

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title
Unsettled Ground
fullDescription

"Full of dramatic twists and turns right up until its moving, beautiful end." —NPR Books

"Entrancing.... A brilliant and sly study of family." —The Los Angeles Times

Named a Best Book of the Month by Entertainment Weekly, PopSugar, Bustle, Chicago Review of Books, PureWow, a Best Book of Summer by Daily Beast and one of Good Housekeeping's 30 Best Books of 2021.

At fifty-one years old, twins Jeanie and Julius still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation in the English countryside. The cottage they have shared their entire lives is their only protection against the modernizing world around them. Inside its walls, they make music, and in its garden, they grow everything they need to survive. To an outsider, it looks like poverty; to them, it is home.

But when Dot dies unexpectedly, the world they've so carefully created begins to fall apart. The cottage they love, and the security it offered, is taken back by their landlord, exposing the twins to harsh truths and even harsher realities. Seeing a new future, Julius becomes torn between the loyalty he feels towards his sister and his desire for independence, while Jeanie struggles to find work and a home for them both. And just when it seems there might be a way forward, a series of startling secrets from their mother's past come to the surface, forcing the twins to question who they are, and everything they know of their family's history.

In Unsettled Ground, award-winning author Claire Fuller masterfully builds a tale of sacrifice and hope, of homelessness and hardship, of love and survival, in which two marginalized and remarkable people uncover long-held family secrets and, in their own way, repair, recover, and begin again.

sortTitle
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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: The Wall Street Journal
      • content: Timeless. . . . [a] shadowy family saga, which is marked by illicit love, violence and blood debts.
      • premium: False
      • source: Entertainment Weekly
      • content: Engrossing.
      • premium: False
      • source: Good Housekeeping
      • content: A quiet tale of loss and survival.
      • premium: False
      • source: Chicago Review of Books
      • content: Transfixing.
      • premium: False
      • source: Shelf Awareness
      • content: An unnerving and emotional novel of family secrets, vulnerability and resilience.
      • premium: False
      • source: The Daily Beast
      • content: One mystery after another arises and two siblings who have been left behind by the modern world face changes both gentle and profound.
      • premium: False
      • source: Texas Public Radio
      • content: A darkly poignant novel about an unusual family.
      • premium: False
      • source: The Times (UK)
      • content: Revelatory. . . .  a powerful, beautiful novel.
      • premium: False
      • source: The Guardian
      • content: Fuller explores the painful realities of poverty and social isolation with immense sensitivity in this multilayered and emotionally astute novel.
      • premium: False
      • source: Financial Times
      • content: An intriguing premise made more so by the paucity of novels featuring vulnerable older adults.
      • premium: False
      • source: Harvard Review
      • content:

        A page-turner. . . . reflecting the humble beauty of country life in every page, Unsettled Ground will appeal to a wide array of readers.

      • premium: False
      • source: Tracy Chevalier
      • content: An intriguing, moving novel that will make you question assumptions you have about modern life.
      • premium: False
      • source: Sherri Gallentine, Vroman's Bookstore, BuzzFeed Best Books of Spring as Recommended by Booksellers
      • content: A book like Unsettled Ground is why we read. . . . Written with tenderness and beauty, Unsettled Ground is not to be missed.
      • premium: False
      • source: Lucy Tan, author of What We Were Promised
      • content: A gorgeously written and moving portrait of a family struggling against time.
      • premium: False
      • source: Laline Paull, author of The Ice
      • content: Another sly psychological treat from Claire Fuller, who just keeps on getting better with each book.
      • premium: False
      • source: Lucy Atkins, author of Magpie Lane
      • content: Fuller's prose is darkly elegant, her eye for character astute and humane, and her sense of place vividly atmospheric—here is a writer of great skill, sensitivity, and subtlety.
      • premium: False
      • source: Clare Mackintosh, author of After the End
      • content: Claire Fuller strikes the perfect balance between beauty and melancholy in this relevant and powerful exploration of isolation and life on the fringes of society.
      • premium: False
      • source: Necessary Fiction
      • content: Fuller has created a propulsive story that readers can't help but get caught up in.
      • premium: False
      • source: Ron Rash, The Boston Globe
      • content: Wonderful. Unsettled Ground is a beautifully constructed book with interesting characters, and I'm convinced I won't read a better one this year.
      • premium: False
      • source: Feminist Book Club
      • content: Suffused with gorgeous little details.
      • premium: False
      • source: The Star (Canada)
      • content: Fascinating.
      • premium: False
      • source: Independent (IRE)
      • content: [Fuller's] absorbing novel unsettles us with its fine evocation of life's fragility while grounding us in the healing powers of love, loyalty and nature's bounty.
      • premium: False
      • source: New Books Network Podcast
      • content: A story full of secrets in which nothing is quite as it seems.
      • premium: False
      • source: Across the Pond Podcast
      • content: Beautiful and intriguing.
      • premium: False
      • source: Booklist, Starred Review
      • content: Devastatingly haunting.
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly
      • content: Evocative. . . . Fuller builds suspense over the twins' fate and ends with a brilliant twist.
      • premium: False
      • source: The Weekly Reader
      • content: You'll find yourself desperately rooting for Julius and Jeannie.
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus Reviews
      • content: Fuller is a master of building suspense. . . . At once unsettling and hopeful, her book checks all the boxes of an engrossing mystery.
      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        February 15, 2021
        In Fuller's fourth novel, when one thing is buried, another is unearthed. For those familiar with Fuller's work, it will come as no surprise that a secret lies at the heart of her latest tale. Based in rural England, the novel opens in a dilapidated cottage with the unceremonious death of a woman named Dot. She's found that morning by her grown twin children, Jeanie and Julius, who are 51 years old and have lived with her all their lives. While the death of their mother isn't a shock, it's what follows that unnerves the twins. Apparently, there were debts their mother had accrued, and apparently everyone in town knew except Jeanie and Julius. No sooner do they bury Dot than they receive an eviction notice from the landlord, a man who the twins believe murdered their father. As far as they understood, their mother was given free rent as some sort of twisted reparation for their loss. Now homeless and jobless, the twins scramble to find work and shelter, which isn't easy for "poor people, country people" like them, especially with Jeanie's weak heart. They eventually land on their feet, even finding time to pick their shared love of music back up, but it doesn't take long for the past to catch up to them. Fuller is a master of building suspense. At once unsettling and hopeful, her book checks all the boxes of an engrossing mystery, but it falters in its pacing. And when the book's big dark secret is finally exhumed, the reader feels just as cheated as its protagonists do. Misfortune runs amok in a story that can only be saved by turning the last page.

        COPYRIGHT(2021) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        March 22, 2021
        Fuller (Bitter Orange) follows a pair of 51-year-old twins leading an extremely sheltered life in present-day rural England in this evocative and wondrously anachronistic tale. Jeanie and Julius Seeder reside in the small cottage they grew up in with their widowed mother, Dot, who’s just turned 70. Upon Dot’s death, the twins’ lives are upended. Julius, who’s made do with odd jobs, has some social savvy, while his sister, who helped her mother in their extensive garden by supplying eggs and produce to a local market, has had little contact with the outside world. Additionally, Jeanie, felled by rheumatic fever as a child, never learned to read and write, which has rendered even the most mundane tasks into almost insurmountable challenges. The precariousness of their existence comes to the fore when their landlord’s wife evicts them. As the two struggle with making ends meet, another tragedy changes their lives and Jeanie comes to learn the truth behind their mother’s subterfuge that kept them by her side all her life. Though some readers may struggle to find their footing in the somewhat amorphous setting, Fuller builds suspense over the twins’ fate and ends with a brilliant twist. This one is worth staying with. Agent: David Forrer, InkWell Management.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        April 1, 2021
        For 51 years, twins Julius and Jeanie Seeder have known only the life that their mother, Dot, zealously carved out for them. They cohabited with Dot in a crumbling cottage, growing their own food and selling some of it for the barest sustenance. But when Dot dies suddenly, the twins' carefully constructed worlds and associated narratives come crumbling down. Financially unstable and lacking any marketable skills, the twins are stripped bare as they face a hostile world. Worse, the mother they understood as having superpowers, turns out to be disappointingly human. The secret Dot took to her grave turns everything Julius and Jeanie knew about their lives upside down. Fuller (Bitter Orange, 2018) paints a devastatingly haunting picture of abject poverty, especially in her descriptions of the houses they dwell in, each of which becomes a character in its own right. This tale offers a remarkable peek into how the embrace of family can completely smother other aspects of life. Nevertheless, human ingenuity persists. Fuller writes of Jeanie, "The idea of doing work other than looking after her own house and garden makes her feel like something inside her--as tiny as an onion seed--is splitting open, ready to send out its shoot." It's reassuring to think that reinvention is possible after all.

        COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from May 1, 2021

        This fourth novel from the award-winning Fuller (Bitter Orange) begins with a heartrending crisis for adult twins Julius and Jeanie Seeder. Left in near poverty when their father was killed in a farm accident, they live with their mother, Dot, on an isolated English country estate. They grow the food they need and sell extra produce at the town deli and markets; Julius also contributes his day-labor wages to their meager income. Jeanie has always stayed home because of a bad heart, and she's barely literate. When Dot drops dead in the kitchen, some disturbing questions surface. Why did Dot owe money around town? Was Jeanie's heart diagnosis a lie? Why are they being told they owe back rent for their cottage, which was supposedly rent-free for life? When they are evicted, Julius relocates them to a cramped, dirty camper out in the woods, without water, plumbing, or heat; they are defenseless when locals ransack the camper. As tragedy mounts, their former landlord helps repair their lives while also revealing long-kept secrets that link his life to theirs. VERDICT A gripping, unsettling narrative that ultimately offers a journey of resilience and hope, with unforgettable results.--Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Grand Junction, CO

        Copyright 2021 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

popularity
2854
publisher
Tin House Books
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