It’s one thing to be raised in a sheltered environment. It’s another to be so secluded from the world that you’re 51 years old living with your elderly mother in a dilapidated cottage in the English countryside with no TV or internet, no bank account and almost no contact with the outside.
So begins Unsettled Ground, a new novel by Claire Fuller (Bitter Orange).
The story follows the middle-aged twins Jeanie and Julius, who discover that their mother, Dot, has died in the home they all shared. They’re sad, yes, but not surprised. What does surprise them is when, soon after, they receive an eviction notice from the landlord—the man the twins believe murdered their father years before. (The free rent, they assumed, was a form of reparation.)
Suddenly homeless and without the basic skills to survive in modern-day society, Jeanie and Julius are forced to reckon with the secrets their mother kept from them as they consider leaving their bubble. While Julius hopes to reroute the course of his life and start connecting with the outside world, Jeanie is perfectly content to remain in isolation, opining that, “The different lives they might have lived are too enormous to comprehend.”