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Unsheltered | 2018

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.

Unsheltered is the compulsively readable 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. With history as their tantalizing canvas, these characters paint a startlingly relevant portrait of life in precarious times when the foundations of the past have failed to prepare us for the future.

Critics' Praise

“Every few years, you read a book that makes everything else in life seem unimportant. The Lacuna is the first book in a long time that made me swap my bike for public transport, just so I could keep reading.”
— THE INDEPENDENT (UK)
 
“Breathtaking...dazzling...The Lacuna can be enjoyed sheerly for the music of its passages on nature, archaeology, food and friendship; or for its portraits of real and invented people; or for its harmonious choir of voices. But the fuller value of Kingsolver’s novel lies in its call to conscience and connection. She has mined Shepherd’s richly imagined history to create a tableau vivant of epochs and people that time has transformed almost past recognition. Yet it’s a tableau vivant whose story line resonates in the present day... Kingsolver gives voice to truths whose teller could express them only in silence.” 
— NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

“Employed by the American imagination, is how one character describes Harrison, a term that could apply equally to Kingsolver as she masterfully resurrects a dark period in American history with the assured hand of a true literary artist.” 
— PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“Kingsolver's exploration (through all five senses) of Mexican and American geographies, weather, people, food, cultures, politics, languages and era-bound events—Hoover through World War II, Truman, Nagasaki—is masterful, and a reader receives the great gift of entering not one but several worlds.”
— THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

“The novel is a brilliant mix of truth and fiction, history and imagination … [making] for a compelling and utterly believable read.”
—BOOKPAGE

“As in The Poisonwood Bible, Kingsolver perfects the use of multiple points of view ... This is her most ambitious, timely, and powerful novel yet.”
— LIBRARY JOURNAL

“Before reading [The Lacuna], I would have sworn that 1998's The Poisonwood Bible was her masterpiece, not to be surpassed; it was as close to a truly perfect book as I've ever read. This one's even closer to that lofty goal.”
— DALLAS MORNING NEWS

“Kingsolver's seventh work of fiction is hopeful, political and artistic. The Lacuna fills a lacuna with powerfully imagined social history.”
— CHICAGO TRIBUNE