All her life Reta Winters has enjoyed the useful monotony of happiness, with a loving family and growing success as a writer. Then her eldest daughter suddenly withdraws from the world to sit on a street corner, uncommunicative but for a sign around her neck bearing one word, "GOODNESS".
A new novel from Carol Shields, author of The Stone Diaries (winner of the Pulitzer prize) and Larry's Party (winner of the Orange prize). 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 daughter's 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. Shields' remarkably supple prose yields insights and images of transcendent beauty and acuity from the stuff of small-town life. At once the discomfiting, 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.