Un­shel­tered

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - ON SCREEN - MJ

by Barbara King­solver, Allen & Unwin

If you’ve ever picked up a book by this cel­e­brated au­thor, you will know you’re in for a read that ad­dresses the so­cial and po­lit­i­cal is­sues af­fect­ing us all, par­tic­u­larly en­vi­ron­men­tal. In her ninth novel, the writer in­ter­weaves time­lines of two fam­i­lies liv­ing in a crum­bling house in New Jersey. In 2016, un­em­ployed writer Willa Knox is hav­ing a tough time of it. Her aca­demic hus­band Iano has re­cently lost col­lege ten­ure, they’re look­ing af­ter his obese, right-wing fa­ther, their free-spir­ited daugh­ter has moved back af­ter a failed love af­fair, and she’s taken in her in­fant grand­son. In a par­al­lel nar­ra­tive, 150 years ear­lier, sci­ence teacher Thatcher Green­wood and his bride Rose have re­cently moved to his wife’s child­hood home. The new­ly­weds have is­sues too. Thatcher’s job is in jeop­ardy and he has also come to re­alise that, much like the foun­da­tion-less home he now lives in, a mar­riage based on phys­i­cal at­trac­tion is des­tined to fall apart with­out some se­ri­ous work. Cen­tral to both Willa and Thatcher is the im­por­tance of shel­ter, and how in times of un­rest we cling to the be­liefs and peo­ple most fa­mil­iar to us. As one of the char­ac­ters in the book says, “We hold onto our old world views, even when they no longer serve us and we over­look a lot of things to find rea­son.” This story will make you ques­tion the power and reach of the priv­i­leged few, and con­tem­plate what’s ahead for the rest of us.

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