Lydia's Reviews > Unless

Unless by Carol Shields
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Dec 30, 08

Read in December, 2008

"Unless" is the last book Shields wrote before she succumbed to cancer. Written in true literary style, the book chronicles the life of a novelist/translator as she copes with the withdrawal of her daughter from college to a mute sitting on a street corner with a sign which simply reads "Goodness". All phases and forms of woman as creator of life, words, information, and emotion; as mother, daughter, sister, friend; as intellectual and emoter; and as feminist, femme, activist, accommodator and perserver of life, family, society play roles in this novel. The writing is smooth yet jarring in places.

For me, I again find I am not a fan of the literary novel except in terms of the beauty of language. Too often I have found the subject of these novels to depict a way of life of which I will never take part and therefore have difficulty in reading. This lifestyle is one which is unobtainable in my space. It is interesting that when written in historical settings, such as those of Austen and Alcott, I can enjoy and comprehend the metaphorical and conceptual images. Such behaviors in modern times actually results in nothing but negative emotions.

Is there such a thing as a literary novel which embraces those of us who are not part of mainstream middle America?
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