The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Find a quote from page 56.
Review, of sorts, to follow.
This is the book I'm highlighting right now---
Title: Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver
"The simplest thing would be to tear it down," the man said. "The house is a shambles."Friday 56:
Iano detached from her and vanished. Willa held her vigil over Tig, the child she'd lately forgotten to worry about. For all the years her daughter had been bouncing like a molecule through an unstable universe, anxiety was Willa's steady state.Summary: Iano and Willa were forced to move from their home in Virginia when Iano's teaching job fell through. Fortunately, Willa's aunt had willed her house in Vineland, N.J. to them before her death, so they had a place to land. Unfortunately, both of their adult children have to move in with them after situations in their own lives required it. Plus Iano is taking his turn caring for his curmudgeonly father whose health is failing rapidly. Additionally, the new home is any thing but new. It is old and literally falling apart. Willa feels like her life is spinning out of control, not a position she expected to be in at this stage in her marriage.
Jump back in time 150 years in Vineland and meet the then owners of the same house, Thatcher Greenwood, a young science teacher, his wife, Rose, and a mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Thatcher is trying to teach science in his high school which has a hostile environment to anything new especially having to do with discovery and scientific methods. And he is not allowed to say anything about Charles Darwin's thoughts on evolution. Also, meet Mary Treat (a real historic figure), a 19th century biologist, and Charles Landis, the historical founder of Vineland, a man who attempted to create a Utopian community until he committed the crime of the century!
Told in alternating chapters, the house is the anchor of the story in two different centuries.
Review: My book club decided to not read Unsheltered as a club selection because one of the gals had heard it was preachy. I hadn't read enough about the book to have much to say to counter the opposition. Since I had the word "preachy" in my head as I started reading, I looked for instances to confirm or deny it. Actually, I think that readers who attend conservative churches or don't believe in evolution, would find the book to promote issues in opposition to those believes. But since I am not in either of those camps, I didn't feel preached at.
My favorite parts of the book involved the discussions about issues of the day..."evolution" as a new theory in the nineteenth century and "climate change and overuse of resources" in the twenty-first century. The book's title, Unsheltered, also formed a theme which was fun to think about. What is shelter and who defines it? At one point in the book, Thatcher is reflecting on a time during the Civil War when he slept in a tree for several nights. He slept well and deeply on those nights. Willa thinks back on where she and Iano lived while in college, an apartment above a garage. Her memories of the time spent in that tiny apartment with its cast-off furniture were all happy ones. The house in Vineland was falling apart in 1870, and it was still falling apart in 2016. It sheltered families, but just barely and probably not very happily. It gave me a lot to think about in terms of what I consider shelter and got me thinking about my huge house in which my husband and I rattle around. Time to downscale, perhaps.
Barbara Kingsolver read the audiobook. She is a favorite author and this book, like all her other works, got me thinking in a new way. Unbelievably, this time my ah-ha moments had something to do with President Trump and a new way to think about him and leaders of his generation. Did I love the book like I've loved so many of her books? No, but I liked it a lot. Unsheltered gave me a lot to think about and a new way of thinking of tough issues. That is worth the time it took me to read it!
A few more quotes I want to include, just so I won't forget them:
"Tig gently took the scrap of paper from Willa and read aloud. 'I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great.' "(The quote within the quote was taken from the book My Antonia by Willa Cather.)
"Nor did he tell Mary now that he could see her soul. It was a giant redwood: oldest and youngest of all living things, the tree that stood past one eon into the next."Join Me: in a two month limited reading challenge to read your own books. Check out the details and sign up here: 'My Own Books' Reading Challenge.