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Ursula Under by Ingrid Hill

Ursula Under (original 2004; edition 2006)

by Ingrid Hill

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4621322,468 (3.7)59
Title:Ursula Under
Authors:Ingrid Hill
Info:Vintage (2006), Paperback, 496 pages
Collections:Your library, General Fiction
Tags:Fiction, fantasy, Orange Prize Longlist; given away

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Ursula, Under by Ingrid Hill (2004)

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[Ursula, Under] by [[Ingrid Hill]]; Orange JANUARY; L/L, 2005; (3*)

This was a very good book. Not great but good. It is the story of 2 1/2 year old Ursula Wong who, while visiting the Upper Peninsula with her parents, falls down an abandoned mineshaft. While her parents and rescue workers scramble to rescue her the story goes back into time to tell the story of her ancestors. We learn that they came from China, Sweden, and Finland. All of them lived with secrets and heartache. Combined and now at the epicenter of all of this ancestral genealogy is this little girl No one knows if she has survived the fall.
Inter-chaptered with the ancestor's stories and the current events are the stories of the lives of Ursula's parents. The story of how Ursula came to be is interesting and moving. The underlying theme of the book is that we are all interconnected and the actions we take and the choices we make in our lives affect far more and reach out further than our lives. ( )
2 vote rainpebble | Jan 26, 2015 |
This book is really the story of a little girl who falls into an abandoned mineshaft. But then the author goes into telling stories of the girl's ancestors. The whole thing combines to make you feel like you're lucky to be who you are. What if your grandmother had never met your grandfather? That kind of thing. But it's really a big, wonderful book that sort of makes you appreciate life. ( )
  JG_IntrovertedReader | Apr 3, 2013 |
Similar to THE GARGOYLE, not in the writing style or content, but in the format. URSULA, UNDER alternates between a chapter in the present and a chapter in the past, focusing on the ancestors of Ursula's parents, Justin (who is Chinese-American) and Annie (Finnish-American). So, like THE GARGOYLE, there are many stories in one, but they are tied together more neatly. Ingrid Hill is a wonderful writer. ( )
  JennyArch | Apr 3, 2013 |
Warning: This review contains the spoiler the author gives in the book.

This didn't work for me. Each of the historical chapters would have needed a lot more research to really come to life. Even the modern characters were flat. And to top it all off, the author herself tells you before the rescue that Ursula is going to survive, destroying what little suspense she had built up to that point. ( )
1 vote MarthaJeanne | Sep 25, 2011 |
I came to this book with preconceptions and walked away so happy I read this family saga. The textures of history and human existence come together in unexpected ways, leaving us to question exactly where we came from. I won't reveal any of the plot, for to tell too much would spoil the essence of the experience. Ingrid Hill has written a beautiful and evocative work; her achievement is a foil for all those other historical novels who try to be this good but fall short. ( )
  sonyau | Jul 14, 2009 |
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For James Hill, with all my heart
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On a crystalline, perfectly blue morning in June, after a day of angry pewter skies and of sheeting, driving rain, we enter our story.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143035452, Paperback)

In Michigan's Upper Peninsula, a dangerous rescue effort draws the ears and eyes of the entire country. A two-and-a-half-year-old girl has fallen down a mine shaft—"the only sound is an astonished tiny intake of breath from Ursula as she goes down, like a penny into the slot of a bank, disappeared, gone." It is as if all hope for life on the planet is bound up in the rescue of this little girl, the first and only child of a young woman of Finnish extraction and her Chinese-American husband. One TV viewer following the action notes that the Wong family lives in a decrepit mobile home and wonders why all this time and money is being "wasted on that half-breed trailer-trash kid."

In response, the novel takes a breathtaking leap back in time to visit Ursula's most remarkable ancestors: a third-century-B.C. Chinese alchemist; an orphaned playmate of a seventeenth-century Swedish queen; Professor Alabaster Wong, a Chautauqua troupe lecturer (on exotic Chinese topics) traveling the Midwest at the end of the nineteenth century; her great-great-grandfather Jake Maki, who died at twenty-nine in a Michigan iron mine cave-in; and others whose richness and history are contained in the induplicable DNA of just one person—little Ursula Wong.

Ursula's story echoes those of her ancestors, many of whom so narrowly escaped not being born that her very existence—like ours—comes to seem a miracle. Ambitious and accomplished, Ursula, Under is, most of all, wonderfully entertaining—a daring saga of culture, history, and heredity.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:48 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

When Ursula falls down a mine shaft, her rescue captures the imagination of the American TV audience. What they don't realise is the amazing story of her ancestors, Ursula being descended from 16th-century Swedish queen and a second-century B.C. Chinese alchemist, whose lives mirror Ursula's own.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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