#17 – Unless – Carol Shields

“Unless you’re lucky, unless you’re healthy, fertile, unless you’re loved and fed, unless you’re offered what others are offered, you go down in the darkness, down to despair.”

Reta Winters has many reasons to be happy: Her three almost grown daughters. Her twenty-year relationship with their father. Her work translating the larger-than-life French intellectual and feminist Danielle Westerman. Her modest success with a novel of her own, and the clamour of her American publisher for a sequel. Then in the spring of her forty-fourth year, all the quiet satisfactions of her well-lived life disappear in a moment: her eldest daughter Norah suddenly runs from the family and ends up mute and begging on a Toronto street corner, with a hand-lettered sign reading GOODNESS around her neck.

GOODNESS. With the inconceivable loss of her daughter like a lump in her throat, Reta tackles the mystery of this message. What in this world has broken Norah, and what could bring her back to the provisional safety of home? Reta’s wit is the weapon she most often brandishes as she kicks against the pricks that have brought her daughter down: Carol Shields brings us Reta’s voice in all its poignancy, outrage and droll humour. – Publishers Website

I loved, loved, loved this book.  It was almost like you were inside the head of the person, feeling and doing as she was doing while her daughter was on the street, for very obvious reasons.  You won’t find out why until near the end of the book, but it was delightfully brought together weaving the story of the family, the idyllic life they all lead.  I loved how Carol effortlessly (or at least I thought she did) bring the suffering of all of them together into a novel that is worthy of the Pulitzer Prize.  During the Canada Reads debates I learned that this one is at the bottom of the list if Canadians would have picked it today for elimination.  I am utterly shocked!  There are also some in the blogosphere that didn’t enjoy it as well.  I understand.  Maybe it has to do with myself being a mother, where I have feelings for my children versus some who may not have had children, or won’t have any.  There is a special connection that is created the moment your child is born, that immediate love, a bond that will never falter for as long as you both live.

Lorne Cardinal is defending Unless for Canada Reads, and I think he does have quite the job ahead of him, but I believe that he can do it.  How cool is it a man is defending this book ?!? Kudos Lorne !!

What is your idea of Goodness ?!? How would you want to share it?!?

Read an Excerpt Readers Guide


4 thoughts on “#17 – Unless – Carol Shields

  1. This is one of my favourite books, but I do understand why it wouldn’t appeal to some readers. Mind you, even so, I think Lorne Cardinal did such a fantastic job defending it, that I actually started to think that it still had a chance.

    • I agree ! Altho, this wasn’t one of her best work to date, he did do a fantastic job defending it. Some like I said had not gotten anything out of it, thought it was too wishy washy, but really when the reason is explained about why the daughter is on the streets, it all came together. I thought it was a lovely, lovely novel, it doesn’t deserve the hatred it got during Canada Reads

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