‘Unsettled Ground’ is the latest book by Claire Fuller.
Twins Jeanie and Julius have always been different from other people. At 51 years old, they still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation and poverty. Inside the walls of their old cottage they make music, and in the garden they grow (and sometimes kill) everything they need for sustenance. But when Dot dies suddenly, threats to their livelihood 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.
‘Unsettled Ground’ is a dark and unsettling story about twin brother and sister Julius and Jeanie Seeder, who’s lives change drastically when their mother dies. The siblings are reclusive characters, who live alone in their old fashioned cottage with no electricity or modern amenities. When their mother dies, it comes to light that she owed a lot of debts which in light of her death, was then passed onto her children.
Both the pair have to think of ways of making money, but are very limited in their skills. Although, he’s hard worker and can turn his hand to most skills, Julius cannot travel far due to travel sickness, whilst Jeanie has a bad heart and has to look after herself. As they struggle and save, it makes for sad and frustrating reading, as they are dealt constant hardship from the bullies of the town. We see rare moments of genuine happiness, when the twins play their instruments and sing together and maybe in another world could have been successful artists.
The story is beautifully written and vividly descriptive at very opportunity, from the run down cottage to the vibrant garden that Jeanie helps bring to life to earn a few pound. The characters are a fascinating blend of personalities, from the quiet reclusive sister to the sociable brother who enjoys engaging with others, whilst Jeanie prefers to shy away. But as the story progresses, we see her grow into a stronger and more independent woman, who begins to befriends others as she thinks of creative ways to make an income as well as provide a life for her and her brother.
One thing that struck a chord with me, was that Jeanie couldn’t read and I found this genuinely upsetting, as she struggled to adapt without her mother and brother reading for her. She made me realise how fortunate I am that I can read as she struggled with basic things such as shop for groceries. As an avid reader and book lover, it was sad to read that she missed out on an opportunity to learn to read which would have opened so many doors for her.
Atmospheric from the first page, ‘Unsettled Ground’ is a taunt and tense novel about loss, deceit and what might have been, that made for clever and gripping reading with unthinkable twist that will stay with you long after you reached the final page.
You can pre-order ‘Unsettled Ground’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 25th March 2021.