What if the life you have always known is taken from you in an instant?
What would you do to get it back?
Twins Jeanie and Julius have always been different from other people. At 51 years old, they still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation and poverty. Inside the walls of their old cottage they make music, and in the garden they grow (and sometimes kill) everything they need for sustenance.
But when Dot dies suddenly, threats to their livelihood start raining down. Jeanie and Julius would do anything to preserve their small sanctuary against the perils of the outside world, even as their mother’s secrets begin to unravel, putting everything they thought they knew about their lives at stake.
Unsettled Ground is a heart-stopping novel of betrayal and resilience, love and survival. It is a portrait of life on the fringes of society that explores with dazzling emotional power how we can build our lives on broken foundations, and spin light from darkness.
I am so excited to be on the blog tour for this brilliant book, especially on publication day!
I never expected to read Claire Fuller’s novel from start to finish in one sitting but for at least the second time this author grabbed my imagination and didn’t let go!
Set outside a village an hour or so away from Oxford, a family of three, Dot and her twins, Jeanie and Julius, eke out their existence in a ramshackle cottage. The twins are 51 years old, have always lived with their mother living an orderly life with nothing going to waste. Dot and Jeanie keep a large garden and sell what they can at a shop in the village. Julius picks up odd jobs wherever he can. They can all play music and give pure joy to whoever gets to hear them.
One of the things that really pulls you into this story is the amazing characterisation. You become invested in these three characters as soon as a couple of pages in and you feel that you could have seen people like this in your own life.
The way that they can be treated by some members in their society does make you really think about how we can treat “outsiders”. Those that don’t fit into the mold of what we would consider “normal”. The people who don’t buy from supermarkets, aren’t in the rat race, don’t embrace technology.
I had to keep going to see what happened to these characters as their lives irrevocably change and whether they are able to survive. They were beautifully described, complex and layered. Jeanie & Julius will be living in my head for a very long time.
Overall, the prose is beautiful and sparse, so you automatically fill in the gaps. The plot is both sharp and gentle, this book is not a typical mystery or thriller that leaves your heard racing, but it seeps into all those spaces in your soul that you didn’t even know were yearning for this story. A very special read.
This is far and away my favourite book of 2021 and will be very hard to beat!
About the Author
Claire Fuller was born in Oxfordshire, England, in 1967. She gained a degree in sculpture from Winchester School of Art, but went on to have a long career in marketing and didn’t start writing until she was forty. She has written three previous novels: Our Endless Numbered Days, which won the Desmond Elliott Prize, Swimming Lessons, which was shortlisted for the RSL Encore Award, and Bitter Orange. She has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Winchester and lives in Hampshire with her husband.
You can follow Claire on Twitter @ClaireFuller2 and find out more about her on her website!
You can pre-order this rather sumptuous and possibly award-winning book from Bookshop.org which supports your local indies!
Big thank yous to the wonderful people at Penguin Figtree and the lovely Claire for such a special reading experience.