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Unsheltered

Narrated by: Barbara Kingsolver
Length: 16 hrs and 38 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (87 ratings)
Regular price: £19.99
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Summary

2016 Vineland. 

Meet Willa Knox, a woman who stands braced against the vicissitudes of her shattered life and family - and the crumbling house that contains her.

1871 Vineland.

Thatcher Greenwood, the new science teacher, is a fervent advocate of the work of Charles Darwin, and he is keen to communicate his ideas to his students. But those in power in Thatcher's small town have no desire for a new world order. Thatcher and his teachings are not welcome.

Both Willa and Thatcher resist the prevailing logic. Both are asked to pay a high price for their courage.

A testament to the power and goodness of human spirit, Unsheltered explores the foundations we build, crossing time and place to give us all a little more hope in those around us, and a little more faith in ourselves.

©2018 Barbara Kingsolver (P)2018 Faber Audio

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Over-stuffed with good things

I’ve respected Barbara Kingsolver’s work since the wonderful Poisonwood Bible twenty years ago, but I was disappointed with Unsheltered. Her deep-seated concerns are clear and there are some similarities between this novel and fellow American Anne Tyler’s Clock Dance (reviewed by me 20/8/18) - not least in having the main character being called Willa.

Kingsolver’s Willa lives in Vineland New Jersey in an old inherited house with her elderly and sick Greek father-in-law living on the top floor. Her universe disintegrates as their son returns home with a very young baby after its mother commits suicide, and their massively opinionated daughter returns out of the blue from her aimless travels with a boyfriend – and they all have to live together in a house that is seriously disintegrating. The situation is a metaphor for the crumbling of everything around us in today’s society in America and even globally.

Kingsolver is a political writer with impassioned views, wide knowledge about the natural world and insight into the failings of contemporary society from failing healthcare and man-made ecological ruination, to the impossible economic pressures on families (and much more). The trouble with Unsheltered is that I found it over-ambitious and just too stuffed, however good parts are. A huge part of the book is a parallel story of nineteenth century Darwinism in the re-created life of one pioneer who had once lived in Willa’s house and corresponded with Darwin. There’s far TOO much about carnivorous plants and 19th century letters, however interesting they are in this parallel story. It clogs and confuses the whole, even though I can see Kingsolver’s intention is to make a parallel between society facing the apparent end of the world as they have known it now and then.

16 hours is too long – Clock Dance was 9 hours and made its message more succinctly and effectively. Kingsolver’s characters are carrying such polemical weight that they are just too heavy-going to breathe as real people.

Kingsolver’s narration is superb, however. She has a good voice and she knows exactly how to convey the nuances of her own beautifully written work.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Incredible Writing

Amazing book. Certainly makes one think of our worlds future. Barbara is an amazing narrator.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Helen
  • Brighton, United Kingdom
  • 09-02-19

unfocused

The story starts off about one woman and her family. After a few chapters getting to know her and her story, it completely changes - its another family ? the same house and an earlier time but not sure, maybe I wasn't paying attention for a split second. Anyway the first story isn't mentioned again. The other family seems to have no focus but is rather about in depth conversations about politics and flora. Just gave up in the end.

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History & the present collide seamlessly.

Loved this book. Having lived in Vineland, I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting some of the great people who formed the beginnings of our town.

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Brilliant

Love Barbara Kingsolver. Love her consciousness of our work, her eco-responsible sensitive writing. More people need to listen to her themes. She is so accurate about the current administration

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Fantastic

Loved it, I couldn't switch it off. I've bought hardcopy too.
I love her writing, Poisonwood Bible is one of my favourite books, I was dissappointed by Flight Behaviour and Lacuna but here I find her back on what I enjoy:meaty subject matter and great style. I'm not saying anythingelse! Just get it!

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spoilt!

A good book spoilt by author doing narration. Please why does Barbara Kingsolver insist on reading her own books?
she has a pleasant voice and accent BUT NOT a whole novel. Far too monotonous. Please Audible get actors.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful