MCMLS Mitchell Fiction Book Club discussion

Unsheltered > Overall, what did you think of Unsheltered?

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

Librarian Molly | 219 comments Mod
Overall, what did you think of Unsheltered?

message 2: by Retta (new)

Retta Brandon | 157 comments Hi Molly and Good Readers,
When I first began reading Unsheltered I found it to be a bit quirky as I navigated between two distinct families living in this home separated by a century. However our novel COVID19 came knocking at my door and my unsheltered life became Shelter in Place.
This book became the salve that soothes my soul and became a place to visit as each family story unfolds with Barbara Kingsolver's rich and complex storytelling.

message 3: by Maxine (new)

Maxine | 154 comments I enjoyed this book after I passed the first 30 pages which I found morbid and depressing and hard to take with the pandemic just coming to the fore. I made myself continue, and I am glad I did.
I enjoyed the 2 story lines and especially how the author described the Victorian setting and times. It was a worthwhile read.

message 4: by Sue (new)

Sue Green In the end, I had mixed feelings. While I enjoyed the stories, I had expected a stronger connection regarding the succession of inhabitants of the house itself. That may have underscored the why of how the house condition deteriorated.

message 5: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 69 comments These days it seems many books jump between time periods; I am not a fan of this. The story was quite entertaining but I did not find it riveting.

message 6: by Katie (new)

Katie | 65 comments At first I didn't care for the book, I wanted something more upbeat given the current times. That said, the story stayed with me long after I finished it (a few months ago). I was very frustrated with Willa excusing everyone around her.

message 7: by Michele (new)

Michele (mlbose) | 140 comments Just finished the book last night and overall I enjoyed it. There were a few sections that, for me, felt really dull and redundant and didn’t seem to move the story along. It’s very topical so I did enjoy being able to relate on that level.

message 8: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Ostis | 250 comments Apologies in advance: pouring everything into this one spot, rather than proceeding question by question, as I should. And as I chafe about what I felt were Kingsolver’s repetitive moral pronouncements, I readily admit this will become its own diatribe. But I’m in a hurry; I’m late to this discussion, as I had to reread the book. Almost wish I hadn’t. As a reader, I’m looking to immerse myself, to delight in language, in a world and its people. It’s not as if I refuse to consider having my consciousness raised by a story, but this managed to just cross a line: a tad too polemical, just that bit much overt didacticism—(think Ayn Rand). The characters began to seem symbols of viewpoints rather than flesh and blood. There were occasional delights, to be sure: spiders’ woven castles, a finger being devoured by a plant. And there were poignancy (Tig cuddled with Willa, confessing Cuba), cliffhangers (a murder—and now we’ve got to wait through the modern time period chapter!) and an ongoing perplexity eventually solved (how is this house that’s already crumbling 150 years back still standing—somewhat—over Willa’s family? Ah; “new” bricks...). But those moments were often overrun by the constant lessons. It became exhausting. Whether it was a conversation between siblings (shouting socioeconomics at one another on the night they’re wandering, with friends, through Christmas lights? Truly?) or what could be a simple observation about children’s names became a lecture every time. And I began to dread the actual lectures, on whichever “side.” During the debate intermission, I found myself desperately hoping Kingsolver would skip over the resumption. I can’t decide if the characters’ failings to live up to their professed ideals made them more human or just frustrated me: don’t just defend Darwin & admire your female neighbor; stand up for Polly and keep her exploring a world corset-free! Hey, Golden Son, you can’t ignore the existence of your child! The house is dangerous; are you waiting for someone to actually be hurt? A lengthy affair with a married father? Don’t just have expectations for your life’s paths; hold your family to account! And I’ll confess to being irked by the Greek aspects. As someone who could read the transliterated Greek as it would actually sound, I still found myself wondering what was the point, when most couldn’t and it would sound clumsy on the mind’s tongue? F-ing YOUR Panaghia? (A Greek would acknowledge only one; the honorific means All Holy). Greeks, unlike modern day Catholics, should not be cremated; surely one of the sisters would have had a problem? My husband and I are Papou & Yia Yia; even her spelling felt off. Sorry; I digress. I have no doubt the Greek friend named in her acknowledgements would justify all of this in his own experience, but it was just one more thing to jar me from being immersed in the story. Again, ultimately not disputing the good lessons: better to be unsheltered, to be open, rather than fear change (Leonard Cohen: ...there is a crack in everything, it’s how the light gets in...). But I wish Kingsolver had trusted us enough to weave it in, rather than repetitively bashing us over our heads.

Librarian Molly | 219 comments Mod
Michelle--thank you! I try to be objective and reserve my opinion so that everyone gets the chance to express theirs, but I just did not love this book. I felt as you did, like I was getting bashed over the head with the author's sense of morality, and I also found many of the characters' interactions unrealistic. I'm glad I was not the only one who felt this way! I still plan to read another Barbara Kingsolver title that was recommended to me, but this was definitely not a favorite.

back to top