Named a Best Book of the Month by Entertainment Weekly, PopSugar, Bustle, Chicago Review of Books, PureWow, and one of Good Housekeeping's 30 Best Books of 2021.
“So sharply, so utterly brilliant that I found myself holding my breath while reading, dazzled by Fuller’s mastery and precision.” —Lauren Groff
At fifty-one years old, twins Jeanie and Julius still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation in the English countryside. The cottage they have shared their entire lives is their only protection against the modernizing world around them. Inside its walls, they make music, and in its garden, they grow everything they need to survive. To an outsider, it looks like poverty; to them, it is home.
But when Dot dies unexpectedly, the world they’ve so carefully created begins to fall apart. The cottage they love, and the security it offered, is taken back by their landlord, exposing the twins to harsh truths and even harsher realities. Seeing a new future, Julius becomes torn between the loyalty he feels towards his sister and his desire for independence, while Jeanie struggles to find work and a home for them both. And just when it seems there might be a way forward, a series of startling secrets from their mother’s past come to the surface, forcing the twins to question who they are, and everything they know of their family’s history.
In Unsettled Ground, award-winning author Claire Fuller masterfully builds a tale of sacrifice and hope, of homelessness and hardship, of love and survival, in which two marginalized and remarkable people uncover long-held family secrets and, in their own way, repair, recover, and begin again.
About the Author
Claire Fuller was born in Oxfordshire, England. She has written three novels: Our Endless Numbered Days, which won the Desmond Elliott Prize; Swimming Lessons; and Bitter Orange. She has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Winchester and lives in Hampshire with her husband.
Revelatory. . . . a powerful, beautiful novel. — The Times (UK)
Fuller explores the painful realities of poverty and social isolation with immense sensitivity in this multilayered and emotionally astute novel. — The Guardian
A book like Unsettled Ground is why we read. . . . Written with tenderness and beauty, Unsettled Ground is not to be missed.
— Sherri Gallentine, Vroman’s Bookstore, BuzzFeed Best Books of Spring as Recommended by Booksellers
An intriguing premise made more so by the paucity of novels featuring vulnerable older adults. — Financial Times
Superb. — Daily Mail
Fuller paints a devastatingly haunting picture of abject poverty, especially in her descriptions of the houses they dwell in, each of which becomes a character in its own right. This tale offers a remarkable peek into how the embrace of family can completely smother other aspects of life. Nevertheless, human ingenuity persists. . . . It’s reassuring to think that reinvention is possible after all. — Booklist, Starred Review
Evocative. . . . Fuller builds suspense over the twins’ fate and ends with a brilliant twist. — Publishers Weekly
Fuller is a master of building suspense. . . . At once unsettling and hopeful, her book checks all the boxes of an engrossing mystery. — Kirkus Reviews
A quiet tale of loss and survival. — Good Housekeeping
Transfixing. — Chicago Review of Books
If you’re a reader who lives for contemplative storytelling and perfectly wrought characters, this author is for you. — BookPage
Ambitious. — The TLS
A gorgeously written and moving portrait of a family struggling against time. — Lucy Tan, author of What We Were Promised
Another sly psychological treat from Claire Fuller, who just keeps on getting better with each book. — Laline Paull, author of The Ice
Fuller’s prose is darkly elegant, her eye for character astute and humane, and her sense of place vividly atmospheric—here is a writer of great skill, sensitivity, and subtlety. — Lucy Atkins, author of Magpie Lane
Claire Fuller strikes the perfect balance between beauty and melancholy in this relevant and powerful exploration of isolation and life on the fringes of society. — Clare Mackintosh, author of After the End
[Fuller's] absorbing novel unsettles us with its fine evocation of life’s fragility while grounding us in the healing powers of love, loyalty and nature’s bounty. — Independent (IRE)