From bestselling author Claire Fuller comes a portrait of life on the fringes of society, a heart-stopping novel of betrayal and resilience, love and survival.
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 fifty-one years old, they still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation and poverty.
But when Dot dies suddenly, threats start raining down. Jeanie and Julius would do anything to preserve their small sanctuary against the perils of the outside world, even as their mother’s secrets begin to unravel, putting everything they thought they knew about their lives at stake.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This coming-of-age story is highly unusual—not least because its protagonists are in their fifties. Raised in near isolation in a rickety cottage in the British countryside, twins Jeanie and Julius seem utterly incapable of surviving on their own after their beloved mother’s sudden death. Julius, the more social and practical of the two, wants to find work and possibly a wife, while sickly, illiterate Jeanie just wants to keep growing her vegetables and playing her guitar. Beyond the poetic beauty of author Claire Fuller’s depictions of nature, music, and grief, what really stuck with us is how intensely real she makes the twins’ predicament feel. Their unwilling introduction to the outside world includes learning many secrets their mother kept from them, threatening to tear apart their once-unshakable bond. Unsettled Ground is a deeply specific story that also resonates on a grand, archetypal level. It feels like a novel our grandchildren will read to learn about our time.
Fuller (Bitter Orange) follows a pair of 51-year-old twins leading an extremely sheltered life in present-day rural England in this evocative and wondrously anachronistic tale. Jeanie and Julius Seeder reside in the small cottage they grew up in with their widowed mother, Dot, who's just turned 70. Upon Dot's death, the twins' lives are upended. Julius, who's made do with odd jobs, has some social savvy, while his sister, who helped her mother in their extensive garden by supplying eggs and produce to a local market, has had little contact with the outside world. Additionally, Jeanie, felled by rheumatic fever as a child, never learned to read and write, which has rendered even the most mundane tasks into almost insurmountable challenges. The precariousness of their existence comes to the fore when their landlord's wife evicts them. As the two struggle with making ends meet, another tragedy changes their lives and Jeanie comes to learn the truth behind their mother's subterfuge that kept them by her side all her life. Though some readers may struggle to find their footing in the somewhat amorphous setting, Fuller builds suspense over the twins' fate and ends with a brilliant twist. This one is worth staying with.