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.
Unsettled Ground is a beautifully written, subdued and absorbing novel which neverthless managed to be vibrant in its characters and the sadness and difficulties they experience. It’s not in any way an easy read, but I did enjoy reading it because the words flow so well, and we get such an insight into twins Jeanie and Julius’s lives.
I started Unsettled Ground knowing very little about the plot, and I’m glad of this. It actually took me a while to really get into this novel as it’s fairly slow and it didn’t grab me from the off, but once I did I found that I was really drawn into the difficult lives of twins Jeanie and Julius, living all their lives in a sucluded, rural village. It’s surprising that two 50-something year old adults would still be living in such poverty with their mother, until we learn more about the circumstances in which both of them grew up.
The book does feel like one awful experience after another. None of the occurrences feel over the top or over-dramatic; in fact most of it feels quite low-key in the way the twins experience things, yet what happens to them in undeniably stressful and sad. I wanted to strangle some of the characters that appeared – they made me so angry on behalf of the protagonists – and the last part of the book made me feel very sad. I have to admit, I finished this book feeling pretty solemn and reflective, but that’s what I expected from author Claire Fuller whose novels definitely tend to be on the unhappy side (or so I hear – I haven’t read any others yet myself, but definitely plan to do so now).
Highly recommended if you fancy something well-written, solemn and thought-provoking.