Synopses & Reviews
The breathtaking new novel from Carol Shields, winner of the Pulitzer and Orange Prizes.
All her life, it seems to Reta Winters, she has enjoyed the useful monotony of happiness. She has a loving husband, three bright daughters and supportive friends, and is experiencing growing success as a writer and translator. Then her eldest daughter suddenly withdraws from the world, abandoning university, family, and loving boyfriend to sit on a street corner, uncommunicative but for a sign around her neck bearing one word, GOODNESS. The anguish of her loss leads Reta into a desperate search for the causes of her daughters retreat. No obvious explanation appears to fit. As Reta casts her net ever wider her enquiry turns into an unflinching, often very funny examination of our society and the reasons a young woman might conclude it has no place for her.
Warmth, passion, and wisdom come together in this journey through the life of an unforgettable woman. Shieldss remarkably supple prose yields insights and images of transcendent beauty and acuity from the stuff of small-town life. At once the discomforting, ultimately consoling story of one family's loss and a searing portrait of life at the dawn of the twenty-first century, Unless is a dazzling and daring novel from the undisputed master of extraordinary fictions about so-called "ordinary" lives.
"Marvelously idiosyncratic, passionate and wise, Shields' tenth novel rollicks from beginning to end with sauciness and wit." Book Magazine
"A gut-gripping story of one woman's difficult psychological journey, it becomes, in effect, a treatise on goodness and a testament to the several roles women must simultaneously shoulder....Shields shares with fellow Canadian Alice Munro not only her Ontario milieu but also a gift for psychological acuity expressed in limpid, shimmering prose." Brad Hooper, Booklist
"[A] landmark book that constitutes yet another noteworthy addition to Shields's impressive body of work." Publishers Weekly
"Finely detailed, thoughtful, and sometimes even humorous, this book is highly recommended for all fiction collections." Library Journal
"You wouldn't expect it from her, but Carol Shields has written a naughty book....the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Stone Diaries
is doing something indecorous here ribbing our notions of grief, even snickering at what inspires us....This is one of those books that make you regret that reading is a solitary pleasure." Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor
(read the entire CSM review
About the Author
Carol Sheilds is the author of eight novels and two collections of short stories. She is the winner of the Pulitzer Price for The Stone Diaries, which was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize. And the Orange Prize for Larry's Party. Born and brought up in Chicago, Carol Shields has lived in Canada since 1957.