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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

Winner of The Costa Novel Award 2021.

Shortlisted for The Women's Prize 2021.

When you live on the edge of society, it only takes one step to fall between the cracks.

Twins Jeanie and Julius have always been different from other people. At 51 years old, they still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation and poverty. Inside the walls of their old cottage, they make music, and in the garden they grow (and sometimes kill, everything they need for sustenance. 

But when Dot dies suddenly, threats to their livelihood start raining down. Jeanie and Julius would do anything to preserve their small sanctuary against the perils of the outside world, even as their mother's secrets begin to unravel, putting everything they thought they knew about their lives at stake. 

Unsettled Ground is a heart-stopping novel of betrayal and resilience, love and survival. It is a portrait of life on the fringes of society that explores with dazzling emotional power how we can build our lives on broken foundations and spin light from darkness.

©2021 Claire Fuller (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"Her strongest yet...a powerful, beautiful novel that shows us our land as it really is: a place of shelter and cruelty, innocence and experience." (The Times)

"A relevant and powerful exploration of isolation and life on the fringes of society." (Clare Mackintosh, author of Hostage)

"An atmospheric thriller that's both heart-breaking and heart-warming." (Red)

What listeners say about Unsettled Ground

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  • Overall
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Wonderful

This book is absolutely amazing and I strongly recommend it. The story is completely gripping and for the first time in an audible book I really smiled and really cried. It’s a really original story with excellent characters with whom I was completely involved. The narration is frankly brilliant and I could not fault it. Don’t miss out by not listening to this wonderful book.

11 people found this helpful

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  • 29-03-21

Brilliant

Every story Claire Fuller writes is so different. I couldn’t wait for this to come out and I was not disappointed. The grit of country life, being bottom of the pack, and the brutality of the thoughtless is balanced by the natural kindness of others. I could have been in that caravan or cottage and understood the characters and now it’s finished I will miss it snd their stories.

11 people found this helpful

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unsettled ground

a slow burn of a story. the story of 51 year old twins who at the start of the book live at home with their mother who dies in the first few pages and then their story unfolds. such a beautiful story that had me hooked from the start.

11 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Interesting idea but characters can be frustrating

I listened to this in a whole day, having heard it reviewed on the radio. The idea intrigued me, but I found characters frustrating at times, especially Bridget. some of the reasons for deceptions didn't seem to tie up in a plausible way to me. Relieved it has a slightly positive end as I found it a quite depressing.

5 people found this helpful

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Irritating

(contains spoilers)
At all points in the book, the main protagonist Jeanie, makes the most idiotic decisions. I understand she's meant to be brought up to think in a certain way but it felt as if the author just went out of her way to make every difficult situation even harder and Jeanie less likeable.

When desperate for food Jeanie would say she wasn't hungry instead of accepting a sandwich. When desperate for money she takes cheques from her boss instead of saying she doesn't have a bank account. She doggedly won't accept help and she won't even help herself. It's frustrating to read and this unfortunately created a level of irritation that was sustained and unpleasant, totally spoiling any enjoyment of the book.

The twists in the story were obvious right from the start, but that wouldn't have mattered if there'd been any let up for any of the characters. But no, it was one depressing situation after another. The final straw for me was the 'dead dog trope' which was unnecessary and actually a red herring. The dog isn't dead.  We're just lead to believe it's been killed because .... because... because the reader isn't upset or irritated enough?

If you like well written but dreary depressing tales about people taking advantage and being unkind to each other, then this is the book for you.

Not for me.

TBH I only finished it because a) it was a book group choice b) I listened to it on audio and could switch up the speed and get it over with quickly.

4 people found this helpful

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The lies some mothers tell

A beautiful book and the narration is excellent I listened whilst running and was transported. A sad tale but also uplifting and the hidden strength of the main protagonist shines through. I look forward to reading the book and our group discussion in May.

4 people found this helpful

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A must read!

loved the storyline, the characters and the twists and turns. kept me engrossed the whole way through. Must read mote by this author.

2 people found this helpful

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Slow

I loved all of Claire Fuller's other books so I was excited to read this one. However I really struggled with this book. I found it slow and uneventful.

1 person found this helpful

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slow burn

tragic and tender. but the narrator kept getting names mixed up which was disruptive to the story's flow

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Vary poorly narrated

It sounded as though the narrator was reading the text for the first time. The stress was all wrong and some sentences sounded as though they had been dropped in afterwards. The poor performance made me abandon the book.