Version: Unabridged
Author: Barbara Kingsolver
Narrator: Barbara Kingsolver
Genres: Fiction & Literature, Literature, Historical Fiction
Publisher: HarperAudio
Published In: October 2018
# of Units: 14 CDs
Length: 16 hours, 30 minutes
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The New York Times bestselling author of Flight Behavior, The Lacuna, and The Poisonwood Bible and recipient of numerous literary awards—including the National Humanities Medal, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the Orange Prize—returns with a timely novel that interweaves past and present to explore the human capacity for resiliency and compassion in times of great upheaval.

Willa Knox has always prided herself on being the embodiment of responsibility for her family. Which is why it’s so unnerving that she’s arrived at middle age with nothing to show for her hard work and dedication but a stack of unpaid bills and an inherited brick home in Vineland, New Jersey, that is literally falling apart. The magazine where she worked has folded, and the college where her husband had tenure has closed. The dilapidated house is also home to her ailing and cantankerous Greek father-in-law and her two grown children: her stubborn, free-spirited daughter, Tig, and her dutiful debt-ridden, ivy educated son, Zeke, who has arrived with his unplanned baby in the wake of a life-shattering development.

In an act of desperation, Willa begins to investigate the history of her home, hoping that the local historical preservation society might take an interest and provide funding for its direly needed repairs. Through her research into Vineland’s past and its creation as a Utopian community, she discovers a kindred spirit from the 1880s, Thatcher Greenwood.

A science teacher with a lifelong passion for honest investigation, Thatcher finds himself under siege in his community for telling the truth: his employer forbids him to speak of the exciting new theory recently published by Charles Darwin. Thatcher’s friendships with a brilliant woman scientist and a renegade newspaper editor draw him into a vendetta with the town’s most powerful men. At home, his new wife and status-conscious mother-in-law bristle at the risk of scandal, and dismiss his financial worries and the news that their elegant house is structurally unsound.

Brilliantly executed and compulsively listenable, Unsheltered is the story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum, as they navigate the challenges of surviving a world in the throes of major cultural shifts. In this mesmerizing story told in alternating chapters, Willa and Thatcher come to realize that though the future is uncertain, even unnerving, shelter can be found in the bonds of kindred—whether family or friends—and in the strength of the human spirit.

Reviews (8)

Written by Jan N. on May 26th, 2020

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Good narration! It makes such a difference in how much I enjoy the book. Barbara Kingsolver is a good writer. The start of the story is a little slow but after awhile I was thoroughly engrossed. To the point where I have to force myself to get out of the car and stop listening when I get to my destination. I just noticed that Barbara Kingsolver IS the narrator - no wonder it is so well read!


Written by Karen B. on December 7th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 4/5

The book held my interest, although the characters were sometimes annoying. The author’s attempts at accents were painful to listen to.


Written by Carol I. on January 26th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 2/5

I like Kingsolver overall, but this was a bit hard to listen to because she seemed to dither and dally instead of getting to the point. I thought I would enjoy hearng the author narrate, but it did not add any pleasure to the story line.

Written by Lia N. on December 14th, 2018

  • Book Rating: 3/5

I wanted to love this book, and many of Kingsolver's political and social beliefs mirror my own, but unfortunately I just never connected with the characters or the story. I kept waiting to get to IT, and suddenly the book was over.


Written by Kim D. on November 14th, 2018

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Slow start but then couldn’t put it down.


Written by William D. on November 12th, 2018

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I really enjoyed the back and forth of the two very interesting stories.


Written by Donna W. on November 11th, 2018

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Excellent, thought-provoking book. It gave me a better understanding of the millennial generation and our relationships to possessions. What a treat!

Written by Elisha C. on November 6th, 2018

  • Book Rating: 1/5

Pure propaganda crap. Not the least bit of a hidden agenda. Insulting that they make it so obvious, like you just couldn’t “get it” if they didn’t. Waste of my time and money.

Author Details

Author Details

Kingsolver, Barbara

Barbara Kingsolver was born in 1955 in Annapolis, Maryland, and grew up in rural Kentucky. She counts among her most important early influences: the Bookmobile, a large family vegetable garden, the surrounding fields and woods, and parents who were tolerant of nature study (anything but snakes and mice could be kept in the house), but intolerant of TV.

Beginning around the age of nine, Barbara kept a journal, wrote poems and stories, and entered every essay contest she ever heard about. Her first published work, "Why We Need a New Elementary School," included an account of how the school's ceiling fell and injured her teacher. The essay was printed in the local newspaper prior to a school-bond election; the school bond passed. For her efforts Barbara won a $25 savings bond, on which she expected to live comfortably in adulthood.

After high school graduation she left Kentucky to enter DePauw University on a piano scholarship. She transferred from the music school to the college of liberal arts because of her desire to study practically everything (including one creative writing class), and graduated with a degree in biology. She spent the late 1970's in Greece, France and England seeking her fortune, but had not found it by the time her work visa expired in 1979. She then moved to Tucson, Arizona, out of curiosity to see the American southwest, and eventually pursued graduate studies in evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona. During her student and post-college years she supported herself in a wide variety of jobs including typesetter, housecleaner, medical laboratory technician, artist's model, archaeological assistant, translator, teaching assistant, and copy editor. After graduate school she worked as a scientific writer for the University of Arizona before becoming a freelance journalist.

Kingsolver's short fiction and poetry began to be published during the mid-1980's, along with the articles she wrote regularly for regional and national periodicals. She wrote her first novel, The Bean Trees, entirely at night, in the abundant free time made available by chronic insomnia during pregnancy. Completed just before the birth of her first child, in March 1987, the novel was published by HarperCollins the following year with a modest first printing. Widespread critical acclaim and word-of-mouth support have kept the book continuously in print since then. The Bean Trees has now been adopted into the core curriculum of high school and college literature classes across the U.S., and has been translated into more than a dozen languages.

She has written eleven more books since then, including the novels Animal Dreams , Pigs in Heaven, The Poisonwood Bible, and Prodigal Summer ; a collection of short stories (Homeland ); poetry (Another America ); an oral history (Holding the Line ); two essay collections (High Tide in Tucson, Small Wonder ); a prose-poetry text accompanying the photography of Annie Griffiths Belt (Last Stand ); and most recently, her first full-length narrative non-fiction, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. She has contributed to dozens of literary anthologies, and her reviews and articles have appeared in most major U.S. newspapers and magazines. Her books have earned major literary awards at home and abroad, and in 2000 she received the National Humanities Medal, our nation's highest honor for service through the arts.

In 1997 Barbara established the Bellwether Prize, awarded in even-numbered years to a first novel that exemplifies outstanding literary quality and a commitment to literature as a tool for social change. For information about past winners and upcoming deadlines, see www.bellwetherprize.org.

Barbara is the mother of two daughters, Camille and Lily, and is married to Steven Hopp, a professor of environmental sciences. In 2004, after more than 25 years in Tucson, Arizona, Barbara left the southwest to return to her native terrain. She now lives with her family on a farm in southwestern Virginia where they raise free-range chickens, turkeys, Icelandic sheep, and an enormous vegetable garden. For more information about Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and the family's local food project, see animalvegetablemiracle.org.