Happy Paperback Publication Day
Winner Costa Novel Award 2021
Paperback 6 January 2022
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. Their rented cottage is simultaneously their armour against the world and their sanctuary. Inside its walls they make music, in its garden they grow (and sometimes kill) everything they need for sustenance.
But when Dot dies suddenly, threats to their livelihood start raining down. At risk of losing everything, Jeanie and her brother must fight to survive in an increasingly dangerous world as their mother's secrets unfold, putting everything they thought they knew about their lives at stake.
This is a thrilling novel of resilience and hope, of love and survival, that explores with dazzling emotional power how the truths closest to us are often hardest to see.
📖 My thoughts...
I featured Unsettled Ground on my blog when the hardback edition came out in March 2021. I was so overwhelmed by the story that I made it my Featured Book of the Month in April 2021 and it featured on my Reads of the Year list for 2021. I am delighted to see it published today in paperback with a stunning new cover.
I'm also delighted to announce that Unsettled Ground is the winner of the Costa Novel Award 2021 ~ an award so richly deserved.
This is what I thought about it...
Middle-aged twins, Jeannie and Julius Seeder, live an isolated life, scraping out a meagre existence in their rural location, which is made so much worse by the sudden death of their mother. With their main support gone, Jeannie and Julius are left floundering in world which doesn't understand their naivety, or sense their total lack of awareness. Jeannie is the weaker of the twins and yet it is her powerful narrative which relates what happens to them when their world tumbles down around them, and when old secrets, so carefully hidden, threaten to destroy everything they rely on to survive.
Unsettled Ground is a disturbing read and whilst beautifully focused on what is happening in the present, there are hints back to a time when the twins were much younger and the story of a family tragedy which had far reaching effects on all their lives. The strength of the story lies with this author's uncanny ability to make the ordinary into something extraordinary and in creating Jeannie and Julius Seeder she gives us characters who are so engulfing that even when you move away from their story, you still wonder what is going to happen next for them.
There's a deep underlying sadness to the story which is difficult to move away from, and the confining and secluded nature of Jeannie's life, in particular, makes for emotional reading and yet there is also hope in the twins' shared love of music, Jeannie's tender loving care of her garden, and in Julius's strength of character when courage is needed. My heart broke into so many pieces, that there were times when I had to stop reading in order to make a restorative cup of tea just so I could gather my thoughts.
Unsettled Ground is a strong and forceful family drama which made me feel quite angry at the injustice of what happened to Jeannie and Julius in the aftermath of their mother's death, and yet there were also times when the story was so tenderly compassionate, and so beautifully observed, that it, quite simply, took my breath away.
About the Author
Claire Fuller was born in Oxfordshire, England. She gained a degree in sculpture fromWinchester 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 Elliot Prize, Swimming Lessons, which was shortlisted for the RSI 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.
Twitter @ClaireFuller2 #UnsettledGround
Instagram @vikingbooksuk @clairefullerwriter