There has been some buzz for Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller after it was longlisted and now shortlisted for the 2021 Women’s prize. The story’s premise sounded interesting and unique, and curiosity got to me, and I had to read it!
Unsettled Ground explores codependency, hardship and survival with an unusual family. 51-year-old twins Jeanie and Julius and their mother, Dot live pretty much off the grid, in isolation, poverty, and are dependent on each other to survive. After Dot dies, secrets and lies start too unravel along with life as Jeanie and Julius know it.
I found the premise intriguing, and I loved the themes of codependency and isolation. There is enough suspense to story that should have added elements of an engaging mystery; however, it loses steam with the story’s pacing. Interesting and intriguing harsh truths and then brutal realities engulf the twins setting a dark, claustrophobic tone to the story with a constant feeling of doom. There were plenty of questions I needed the answers to that kept me clicking the pages looking for answers. The pace is slow as the secrets and lies are revealed, and when they are, I became frustrated with the characters’ lack of action to them. I wanted the story to move forward instead of staying in that cloud of doom for so long. I liked the secrets and lies, and how they all came together and that made the story for me. The story took a dark turn near the end, and I felt cheated out of some light to the story and growth to the characters, and I didn’t get the ending I was hoping for.
I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley.