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Unsheltered cover art

Unsheltered

By: Barbara Kingsolver
Narrated by: Barbara Kingsolver
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Publisher's Summary

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION

TWICE WINNER OF THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION

THE MULTI-MILLION COPY BESTSELLING AUTHOR

Meet Willa Knox, a woman who stands braced against a world which seems to hold little mercy for her and her family - or their old, crumbling house, falling down around them. Willa's two grown-up children, a new-born grandchild, and her ailing father-in-law have all moved in at a time when life seems at its most precarious. But when Willa discovers that a pioneering female scientist lived on the same street in the 1800s, could this historical connection be enough to save their home from ruin? And can Willa, despite the odds, keep her family together?

©2018 Barbara Kingsolver (P)2018 Faber Audio

Critic Reviews

'Magnificent.' The Times, 'Books of the Year'

'Gripping.' Grazia

'Peerless.' Daily Mail

What listeners say about Unsheltered

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

I’m just not smart enough for this book

I LOVED The Poisonwood Bible and so many of Barbara Kingsolver’s earlier books, but the last few have gotten progressively harder to get through. Very probably I’m just not intellectual enough to appreciate the philosophical banter between the main characters, I’ll admit. Like other reviewers have said, this felt like a thinly disguised lecture on sustainability and the precarious post-GFC economic circumstances middle class people find themselves in today. There was very little plot or actual character development. I just didn’t care about any of the characters. Lost the will to live about a third of the way through.

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9 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Truth telling and catastrophic collapse

Riveting dual stories of catastrophic collapse of houses across two different centuries, and parallel tales of the challenges of truth tellers in societies that want to shut out new realities.

Barbara Kingsolver has unearthed the untold story of world class biologist and naturalist Mary Treat, who corresponded with Charles Darwin about species evolution whilst living in a society that damned the theory and its adherents as ‘indecent’ and unchristian.

Her recreation of the conversations between the unconventional Mary Treat and the protagonist, a Darwinian science teacher are a window into another era of discovery, and the challenges of scientists to convince people of the merits of rational deductive scientific investigation and knowledge.

She spices it up with the spectre of a capitalist landlord of a superseded utopian dream - enslaving farmers lured to ‘Vineland’ in layers of debt if their crop fails.

To give us a present day context, the story is interwoven with the tale of the 21st century family living at the same address. Middle aged Willa and Janos, who have had both their careers implode, have moved into a falling down house they inherited with their adult children, ailing objectionable father and new grandchild, baffled by how all their middle class striving has led them to near destitution.

I appreciated the juxtaposition between the popular reception of present day ‘The Bullhorn’ presidential candidate, and failure of western capitalist societies to face up to the costs and consequences of our over-consumption and toxic waste; with the popular rejection of Darwin’s theory of evolution back in the 1870s and how the New Jersey Vinelanders we’re in thrall to their capitalist overlord Landis.

Relevant and captivating.

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6 people found this helpful

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Loved it

Fascinating story based on real events, and so cleverly linked to present day concerns. I felt for these characters

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4 people found this helpful

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A gently narrated wake-up for sustainability now!

I loved the parallel tales of past and present; of 'I want' versus 'I care'.

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great writing, engaging characters, important issu

loved it! Kingsolver communicates important issues in a thoroughly entertaining story with believable characters .

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3 people found this helpful

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What a treat of a book

Beautiful storytelling that I didn't want to end and kept me captivated... I loved the overlapping themes and relevance. Kingsolvers writing has a delicate intricacy of detail and the witful use of metaphor without being copious or ornamental. Very smart and soulful too. .. a "treat" to have been read by the author.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great story, but Kingsolver is no dramatic reader.

The story was really entertaining. The book is written with two parallel story lines which tie up nicely in the end. However Barbara Kingsolver would do better to have a dramatic reader read her stories rather than read them herself; her voices fall flat.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Two stories in one

Fascinating parallel stories in different times, but what will stay with me are the ideas around the necessary move from consumer culture where material possessions and financial wealth are the markers of success, to the possibility of a new world where people are forced to be content with less, which creates a new freedom from the urge to achieve material success at all costs.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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The past and the now and the future.

Long after I had finished this wonderful book, so many ideas, thoughts, connections and questions continue to come to me. I loved the narration (which is rather rare when an author reads their own work) and the voices of Nick,Willa and Thatcher and Mary were perfect. As a person of Willa's generation I so understood that fear, that love for family and never once judged any of them harshly. The narrative is written with so much compassion and tenderness ever for the most difficult of characters.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Thought provoking and strangely calming

Compelling read looking at generational thinking but also isolation of thinking differently. I loved the historical comparison reminding the reader that contexts change but does the way we humans act change that much? We all instictively want to belong and feel safe and sadly this drives our behaviours more than we recognise. However if we can instead find courage to stand out we can drive the change that is needed.

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In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.