The plot of Barbara Kingsolver’s new novel rests on absent foundations – literally.

In alternating chapters, Unsheltered (Allen & Unwin, 2018) weaves together the stories of two strong, intelligent individuals whose homes are crumbling around them. The homes seem to act as a metaphor for the seismic social and economic changes that are ripping the rug out from under the lives of these two main characters. Thatcher, a science teacher in the newly established utopian town of Vinelands in the late 1800s, is isolated and attacked for supporting Darwin’s theory of evolution. Willa, a recently retrenched magazine editor, can barely feed and shelter her family after moving to a house she inherited in the same town in 2016.

Like The Lacuna and The Poisonwood Bible, Kingsolver’s rich characters and abundant detail make for absorbing and educational reading. Loved it!

By Kim Irving

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