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Unsheltered by Kingsolver Barbara
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Unsheltered

by Kingsolver Barbara (Author)

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1,556928,894 (3.63)105
How could two hardworking people do everything right in life, a woman asks, and end up destitute? Willa Knox and her husband followed all the rules as responsible parents and professionals, and have nothing to show for it but debts and an inherited brick house that is falling apart. The magazine where Willa worked has folded; the college where her husband had tenure has closed. Their dubious shelter is also the only option for a disabled father-in-law and an exasperating, free-spirited daughter. When the family's one success story, an Ivy-educated son, is uprooted by tragedy, he seems likely to join them, with dark complications of his own. In another time, a troubled husband and public servant asks, How can a man tell the truth, and be reviled for it? A science teacher with a passion for honest investigation, Thatcher Greenwood finds himself under siege: his employer forbids him to speak of the exciting work just published by Charles Darwin. His young bride and social-climbing mother-in-law bristle at the risk of scandal, and dismiss his worries that their elegant house is unsound. In a village ostensibly founded as a benevolent Utopia, Thatcher wants only to honor his duties, but his friendships with a woman scientist and a renegade newspaper editor threaten to draw him into a vendetta with the town's powerful men. This is the story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum in Vineland, New Jersey, navigating what seems to be the end of the world as they know it.… (more)
Member:KimberleyFisher
Title:Unsheltered
Authors:Kingsolver Barbara (Author)
Info:faber & faber
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Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

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Showing 1-5 of 92 (next | show all)
Contrary to the title of the book, this is the story of one particular shelter - a house called Vineland that sheltered two different families over 140 years apart. A house that stood the test of time until it couldn't.
Modern day: Willa and Iano's marriage is unsheltered from harsh realities. Behind Willa's every thought of Iano is a trace of disappointment. He doesn't respect her privacy. He is hardly the breadwinning husband even though she is the out-of-work journalist. As a professor with adoring students and a history of infidelity, Willa cannot trust him. Adding to the stress Iano's very ill father has come to live with them in their condemned (no longer sheltering) house. Then there is Willa's son. Zeke has his own share of trouble. His live-in girlfriend has committed suicide, leaving him with a newborn son and a pile of debt. Helene was the one with the income while Zeke was a student at the Harvard Business School. Guess who is left to care for the newborn? This is the opening shot across the bow for Unsheltered. Kingsolver delves into so much (so much!) more as the story unfolds. Historical plot follows the life of real-life naturalist Mary Treat and her quest to study the world around her. Charles Darwin has page time and even the nomination of a tyrant for a President of the United Sates gets a mention. I don't want to say anymore except that Kingsolver is a master of words. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Nov 28, 2021 |
Decent. She has a lot of good point as usual. Somewhat preachy and I found the part of the story that was set in the past boring. ( )
  debfung | Jul 12, 2021 |
I gave up on this about three hours into the audiobook. I’ve liked her so much in the past and tried to give it a chance but the family argument/lecture scene gave me my first inkling that I wouldn’t finish it. I grew up in NJ and the historical part was a hook I had to let go. I’d assumed that the preachy parts of Animal Vegetable Miracle had been contributed by her husband. I’m sad about this. ( )
  flemertown | Jul 10, 2021 |
Through a work of fiction, Barbara Kingsolver brings us a contrast between modern day ( Willa and family) and the days of Charles Darwin ( Thatcher Greenwood and Mary Treat) with both generations questioning there place in the world and how to live in the future. Thatcher is a science teacher who tries to bring some enlightenment to Vineland in regards to the theory of the evolution of species by natural selection. This in a " God fearing town" run by Charles Landis. Some stories in this novel are true like Mary Treat and the Venus flytrap and the murder on Main St. The modern day family has come to Vineland in the house next door to Mary Treat and the social message they struggle with is how to be a success in a new definition of the word. How to live with less in a world of climate change. Willa's family could be all of us. The son Zeke is a money manager type. Her husband a professor and they have his Greek father on oxygen living with them spewing Trumpisms. Little Tig is the firebrand who will save the planet.
The blending of past and present and the discourse on our natural world is very well delivered in "Unsheltered._ ( )
  Smits | Apr 10, 2021 |
A tale of two families, 140 years apart, living on the same plot of land dealing with a collapsing house. The characters were well drawn and had impressive integrity. In both tales, besides their falling down house, they were dealing with a collapsing world view with some championing the new and most hanging on tenaciously to the old. ( )
1 vote snash | Feb 27, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 92 (next | show all)
Multi-award-winning Kingsolver's eighth novel (after Flight Behavior) tells two stories in alternating chapters, both taking place on the same residential lot in Vineland, NJ, but roughly 150 years apart. In the 1870s, science teacher Thatcher struggles with meeting the expectations of his socially ambitious wife while running afoul of school and city morality for teaching Darwinism and develops a connection with his next-door neighbor, naturalist Mary Treat. In the present day, journalist Willa tries to hold her family together, four generations of which are living in a house that is literally falling down around them, as they struggle with medical bills, tragedy, and long-buried conflict. In the historical story (Thatcher and his family are fictional, but other characters and plot elements are based on real people and events), Kingsolver finds parallels to our current political climate without being heavy-handed, conveying the frustration and despair of members of the professional middle class, who "did all the right things" but feel they are losing ground.
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Epigraph
After the final no there comes a yes
And on that yes the future world depends.
- Wallace Stevens, “The Well Dressed Man with a Beard”
Dedication
For Lily Hopp Kingsolver
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The simplest thing would be to tear it down,” the man said. ”The house is a shambles.”
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How could two hardworking people do everything right in life, a woman asks, and end up destitute? Willa Knox and her husband followed all the rules as responsible parents and professionals, and have nothing to show for it but debts and an inherited brick house that is falling apart. The magazine where Willa worked has folded; the college where her husband had tenure has closed. Their dubious shelter is also the only option for a disabled father-in-law and an exasperating, free-spirited daughter. When the family's one success story, an Ivy-educated son, is uprooted by tragedy, he seems likely to join them, with dark complications of his own. In another time, a troubled husband and public servant asks, How can a man tell the truth, and be reviled for it? A science teacher with a passion for honest investigation, Thatcher Greenwood finds himself under siege: his employer forbids him to speak of the exciting work just published by Charles Darwin. His young bride and social-climbing mother-in-law bristle at the risk of scandal, and dismiss his worries that their elegant house is unsound. In a village ostensibly founded as a benevolent Utopia, Thatcher wants only to honor his duties, but his friendships with a woman scientist and a renegade newspaper editor threaten to draw him into a vendetta with the town's powerful men. This is the story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum in Vineland, New Jersey, navigating what seems to be the end of the world as they know it.

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