Unless, Paperback
3.5 out of 5 (9 ratings)


Dazzling novel from Carol Shields, author of 'The Stone Diaries', winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and 'Larry's Party', winner of the Orange Prize. 'Breathtaking...a masterpiece.' Geoffrey Wansell, Daily Mail Reta Winters has a loving family, good friends, and growing success as a writer of light fiction.

Then her eldest daughter suddenly withdraws from the world, abandoning university to sit on a street corner, wearing a sign that reads only 'Goodness'.

As Reta seeks the causes of her daughter's retreat, her enquiry turns into an unflinching, often very funny meditation on society and where we find meaning and hope. 'Unless' is a dazzling and daring novel from the undisputed master of extraordinary fictions about so-called 'ordinary' lives.




Free Home Delivery

on all orders

Pick up orders

from local bookshops


Showing 1 - 5 of 9 reviews.

  Previous  |  Next

Review by

I'm not sure I understand what Carol Shields is trying to say in this novel. I think it is railing against female oppression in our society; a worthy enough cause but Reta is so conventional and constrained by her suburban life that she is unable to throw aside convention to go and save her daughter, Norah, who has inexplicably taken to living on the streets of Toronto wearing a sign saying "Goodness". We ultimately find out why but I never really found out the wherefore of the book.

Review by

Very well written, a mother tries to live and work while her young adult daughter is driven (for reasons clear at the end) to live on the streets. Intensely moving - but then I am the mother of adult daughters and can completely identify with the story (thank the goddess that it didn't happen to mine)First class.

Review by

This novel tells the story of Reta Winters, a writer of light fiction, whose eldest daughter suddenly withdraws from life and university to sit on a street corner, wearing a sign saying "Goodness". This explores how Reta comes to terms with this retreat, and examines the reasons behind it.This book is unlike anything I've read before. It covers quite raw emotions, as well as a funny look at society, so it is quite difficult to categorise. I definitely enjoyed reading it, although I'm not sure that "enjoy" is necessarily the right word, as this was so well-written that you were able to feel Reta's pain throughout, which made me want to carry on reading.I think this is a book that will stay with me for quite a while, and it may need to be one that I revisit, as I'm not sure the whole thing has really sunk in...

Review by

I tried several times to read this book, but the writing style really bugged me and I simply could not get past the first chapter.

Review by

This book was a loan from a friend and I thank her for the introduction to this wonderful novelist. This is the touching story of a mother's loss. Reta is a writer with a comfortable existence that is one day shattered by the knowledge that her eldest daughter has abandoned her life to beg on a street corner.The author has a remarkable ability to describe the simple everyday activities of life, and how this can enable us to get through each day when in reality that normally stable existence is falling apart around us. As the reader you are made to feel a part of Reta's family and I was at times moved to tears whilst sharing in her difficult journey.

  Previous  |  Next

Also by Carol Shields   |  View all