“There are chapters in every life which are seldom read, and certainly not aloud.”
In 2004 I read Unless by Carol Shields and really disliked it. I'm glad I gave Sheilds the benefit of the doubt and read more of her work because some of it is really wonderful. This book--which was on my #unreadshelf even though when I opened it I realized it belongs to my sister--was amazing.
It is the story of Daisy Flett and takes you through her long life, as well as the lives of her family and friends from numerous perspectives in a mere 269 pages. Shields tells the story using a variety of narrative techniques, including several letters, and I couldn't put it down. Not a word was wasted.
In the introduction (read it after you read the story--it is full of spoilers) Penelope Lively says that this novel is "a virtuoso discussion of the nature of evidence itself, of the ways in which it is unreliable and conflicting." That is exactly right.
Shields lived in Canada most of her life and much of this novel is set there. I am counting it toward the 15th Canadian Reading Challenge.