Reader reviews and comments on Ursula, Under, plus links to write your own review.

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Ursula, Under

by Ingrid Hill

Ursula, Under
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2004, 476 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2005, 512 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

Page 1 of 1
There are currently 2 reader reviews for Ursula, Under
Order Reviews by:

Write your own review!

Judy (11/28/06)

Ancestors and Angels
This is one of the more amazing books I've ever read. Ursula Hill, who is also a mother of 12 children and has a PhD in literature, is a very hip woman. She is one of those writers, like Margaret Atwood, who shows rather than tells what feminism truly means. It is not lost on me that both of these women are highly educated.

The main story involves two-year-old Ursula and her young parents, Annie, of Finnish descent and Justin Wong, a Chinese-American. They live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and while on a trip to see a defunct mine where Annie's great-grandfather perished in a mining accident, Ursula accidentally falls down an old mine shaft, setting off a huge rescue effort.

While this would make a great story by itself, it takes up only about a fifth of the novel. The remainder is a breathtaking journey back into history which traces the ancestry of Justin and Annie from 4000 BC China and first century Finland. Such a massive undertaking makes fascinating reading. I wish I had drawn a family tree as I read. Ingrid Hill brings these ancestors alive as she tells their life stories. She also presents a philosophy of history and humanity that I found wonderful and unique.

That is not all. In telling the story of Ursula, Annie and Justin, she draws a picture of contemporary American life that is at once caustic and humorous. It is also sociological in scope and political and cultural in flavor. There are pitch-perfect references to popular phenomena such as music, books, film, clothing, housing, the job market and the list goes on.

Then comes the climax of the plot which had me in tears for pages yet left me feeling hopeful for the sheer strenth of the human spirit and appreciative of my own ancestors. We are all the angels of each other.
James Blacklock (08/08/06)

Promising Debut
In lesser hands the audacious scheme of this novel might have reeked of gimmick. As it is you never doubt that Ingrid Hill is trying to write the best book she can.
On a crystalline, perfectly blue morning in June, a young married couple driving across upper Michigan stop to picnic in a clearing, then watch in horror as their two and a half year old daughter suddenly vanishes, swallowed by what they discover hidden in undergrowth is a tiny hole in a poorly sealed and long-forgotten mineshaft.


As the rescue mission slowly grinds into action the media are determined to bring the drama into every home. Alone and swilling gin in the big house she's inherited, Jinx Muehlenberg watches live tv coverage and complains, "Why are they wasting all that money and energy on a goddamn half-breed trailer-trash kid?" And so Hill proceeds to take us on a 2,000 year journey, beginning back in ancient China, to demonstrate exactly why little Ursula's existence is so precious.
In truth there is no need to stretch back-story to such extraordinary lengths in order to kindle fierce sympathy for the loving, and much in love, parents as they agonize over Ursula's fate. The more we learn about Justin and Annie the more likeable they are and the more unbearable a tragic ending would be. Hill, however, insists "all story is also back-story, the underside of the iceberg explains what we see above."


Each of the historical episodes, which alternate with further instalments in the main action (including rather more conventional back-story), is an absorbing stand-alone story featuring direct ancestors of little Ursula, but it isn't essential to buy the philosophical point Hill is making about this connectivity - and, indeed, I don't.
  • Page
  • 1

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Sellout
by Paul Beatty

The first book by an American author to win the prestigious Man Booker Prize.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
    by Kathleen Rooney

    "Effervescent with verve, wit, and heart" - Booklist, starred review

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Girl Before
    by JP Delaney

    An enthralling psychological thriller of duplicity, death, and deception.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win No Man's Land

No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien

Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.

Enter

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Sellout
    by Paul Beatty
    Paul Beatty's The Sellout was one of those books that flew somewhat under the radar when it was...
  • Book Jacket: Ruler of the Night
    Ruler of the Night
    by David Morrell
    Amateur sleuth Thomas De Quincey is back in a mystery set in Victorian England. This time, he and ...
  • Book Jacket: A List of Cages
    A List of Cages
    by Robin Roe
    Robin Roe has written one helluva young adult debut novel. Alternating first person narratives by a ...

Word Play

Solve this clue:

H W S W T Devil S H A L S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.