Unless: A Novel (Hardcover)

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I'm not interested, the way some people are, in being sad. I've had a look, and there's nothing down that road. Well now! What about the ripping sound behind my eyes, the starchy tearing of fabric, end to end; what about the need I have to curl up my knees when I sleep?

For all of her life, 44 year old Reta Winters has enjoyed the useful monotony of happiness: a loving family, good friends, growing success as a writer of light 'summertime' fiction. But this placid existence is cracked wide open when her beloved eldest daughter, Norah, drops out to sit on a gritty street corner, silent but for the sign around her neck that reads 'GOODNESS.' Reta's search for what drove her daughter to such a desperate statement turns into an unflinching and surprisingly funny meditation on where we find meaning and hope.

Warmth, passion and wisdom come together in Shields' remarkably supple prose. Unless, a harrowing but ultimately consoling story of one family's anguish and healing, proves her mastery of extraordinary fictions about ordinary life.

Praise For…

“A landmark book...yet another noteworthy addition to Shields’s impressive body of work.”

“A brave, profound, and quirky novel with an undercurrent of the deeply amusing.”

“A wonderful, powerful book, written in a style which combines simplicity and elegance. I found it deeply moving.”

“Finely detailed, thoughtful and sometimes even humorous, this book is highly recommended for all fiction collections.”

“Often quietly heartbreaking...often, bitingly humorous.”

“Marvelously idiosyncratic, passionate and wise, Shields’ tenth novel rollicks from beginning to end with sauciness and wit.”

“A thing of beauty—lucidly written, artfully ordered, riddled with riddles and undergirded with dark layers of philosophical meditations.”

“With a poet’s precision, Shields dissects grief and makes coping with bad luck feel like domestic heroism.”

“Some hefty perceptions, fortunately shared with us in this fine novel.”

“The best of her novels...fearless, smart, funny, beautifully written.”

“A fine book, poignant, witty, rich in character, vivid in its sense of place...surprisingly suspenseful.”

“Remarkably subtle and unsettling...one of those books that make you regret that reading is a solitary pleasure.”

“Luminous ... Shields is a consummate master of tone and acute psychological insight.”

“A luminous novel ...Shields writes with clarity, intelligence and generosity, finding meaning in most mundane details of home life.”

“A novel of...assured intelligence and defiant vivacity.”

“When Shields is good she is very good. There are nuggets of pure gold in Unless.”

“An engaging, memorable novel.”

“Relentlessly fine...imagined with style and vigor, melancholoy and wisdom.”

“Closely observed moments create the kind of subtle textures and elegant prose that won Ms. Shields the Pulitzer Prize.”

“Unless succeeds beautifully...Shields [is] an expert at illuminating the complicated dynamics of off-kilter families.”

“A fitting farewell from an author revered for her graceful, insightful writing...sparkles with wry humor and elegant irony.”

“Truly, a miracle of language and perception.”

“All the trademark Shields delights are robustly present: idiosyncratic plotting; limber prose...deep compassion...tart commentary and irreverent wit.”

“Entirely satisfying… Shields’ voice, tender and moderated at all times, remains wise and very readable.”

“Shields’s novels and short stories are intensely imagined, humanely generous, beautifully sustained and impeccably detailed.”

“Nothing short of astonishing.”

“A superb new novel...a graceful coda, an arabesque performed over an abyss.”

“All novelists worth their fictional salt can create fine characters; Carol Shields creates lives. ”

“A raw, subtle, inspiring novel about feminism, femininity, virtue, oppression and motherhood...I was inexpressibly moved by it.”

“Her wisdom and generosity of spirit are visible at every turn.”
Product Details
ISBN: 9780007141074
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: May 1st, 2002
Pages: 224
Language: English