Unsettled Ground

Tin House. May 2021. 330p. ISBN 9781951142483. $26.95. F
This fourth novel from the award-winning Fuller (Bitter Orange) begins with a heartrending crisis for adult twins Julius and Jeanie Seeder. Left in near poverty when their father was killed in a farm accident, they live with their mother, Dot, on an isolated English country estate. They grow the food they need and sell extra produce at the town deli and markets; Julius also contributes his day-labor wages to their meager income. Jeanie has always stayed home because of a bad heart, and she’s barely literate. When Dot drops dead in the kitchen, some disturbing questions surface. Why did Dot owe money around town? Was Jeanie’s heart diagnosis a lie? Why are they being told they owe back rent for their cottage, which was supposedly rent-free for life? When they are evicted, Julius relocates them to a cramped, dirty camper out in the woods, without water, plumbing, or heat; they are defenseless when locals ransack the camper. As tragedy mounts, their former landlord helps repair their lives while also revealing long-kept secrets that link his life to theirs.
VERDICT A gripping, unsettling narrative that ultimately offers a journey of resilience and hope, with unforgettable results.
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