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Unravelling Hardcover – August 14, 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; 1st edition (August 14, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786862815
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786862818
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 5.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,501,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Aimee Slater is a young women struggling to find herself among the traditions of a 19th-century New Hampshire town and the burgeoning factory life of Lowell, Massachusetts. Alternating between her past and present experiences, she melds a story of family relations, her desire to succeed, and her attempt at an independent life. Her parents reluctantly allow her to leave home for the "City of Spindles," yet almost immediately she mourns their absence. Is the wedge between her and her family created by her headstrong choices, as her mother claims, or does she simply draw deeper inside herself as a result of events she cannot understand? Like Ellen Glasgow's Barren Ground (1925), Aimee's struggle takes place in the absence of any strong male presence. This is a captivating novel about regrets, action, and reaction and the final achievement of understanding and contentment. Graver's first attempt to deviate from her well-received short stories (Have You Seen Me?, LJ 7/91) is a success. Recommended for readers who enjoy history, women's development, and mother-daughter issues.?Laurel Duda, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Mass.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Aimee Slater, born in 1829, grows up on a small New Hampshire farm, always wanting, always filled with desire for something else, for more. In a story that moves back and forth in time from Aimee's childhood, to her year from 15 to 16 in the textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts, to her present when she lives alone on the edge of her parents' property, Graver holds us in Aimee's heart and mind. It is a scary place, so full of need. In exquisite prose that draws on contemporary accounts, history, and local folklore, Graver spins out the relationships between Aimee and her siblings, the townsfolk, the other girls at the mill, her lovers, but most especially, her relationship with her mother. Its unrelieved and tangled intensity is the book's core. Occasionally, Aimee's voice sounds a bit too modern, and incest, pregnancy out of wedlock, and mental and physical disabilities are sometimes cast in ways that seem too twentieth century, but Graver's mastery of emotional resonance carries the reader along. GraceAnne A. DeCandido

More About the Author

Elizabeth Graver's fourth novel, The End of the Point, illuminates the powerful legacy of family and place, exploring what we are born into, what we pass down, preserve, cast off or willingly set free. Set in a summer community on Buzzard's Bay from 1942 to 1999, the book tells the story of one family and a place over half a century. Selected as one of ten books on the 2013 National Book Awards Long List in Fiction, The End of the Point received rave reviews from The New York Times and The Boston Globe and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

Graver is the author of three other novels: Awake, The Honey Thief, and Unravelling. Her short story collection, Have You Seen Me?, won the 1991 Drue Heinz Literature Prize. Her work has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories (1991, 2001); Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards (1994, 1996, 2001); The Pushcart Prize Anthology (2001), and Best American Essays (1998). Her story "The Mourning Door" was awarded the Cohen Prize from Ploughshares Magazine. The mother of two daughters, she teaches English and Creative Writing at Boston College.

For more information:

elizabethgraver.com

facebook.com/elizabethgraverauthor

Customer Reviews

Have the tissues handy for this one.
Barb Mechalke
I picked up this book after being impressed by her newer novel, THE HONEY THIEF - and I have to say that I enjoyed this one even more than that wonderful novel.
Larry L. Looney
It's not so much that the book is bad, it just never seems to get anywhere.
David J. Gannon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Larry L. Looney on November 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This novel is a pretty amazing creation - Elizabeth Graver has created a story and characters here that are at once compelling and, although set firmly in the mid-19th century, have a lot of valuable insight for us in the present. I picked up this book after being impressed by her newer novel, THE HONEY THIEF - and I have to say that I enjoyed this one even more than that wonderful novel.
The central character here, the narrator, Aimée Slater, is, I think, the key to the book's depth. Born in the first half of the 19th century, she is both a product of and a reaction to the age. Her parents are good, if simple people - she and her family live on a farm in New Hampshire. She has siblings - the closest to her in age being her sister Harriet and her brother Jeremiah. All of the other children seem not merely to accept, but to seek the niches awaiting them in society and family - Aimée is headstrong and independent, always questioning the `why' of things. This trait exasperates her parents - and sets the course for her life at an early age.
Straining to break the stifling bonds of her household - but still holding a deep love for her parents in her heart - Aimée embarks from the rural area where her family lives to Lowell, Massachusetts, to work in one of the textile factories that have sprung up there. She does this against the wishes of her parents - especially her mother - but they give in to her when they realize that their hope of convincing her to do otherwise is nil. In the city, she encounters a world she has never seen before - and at fifteen years old, she is scarcely emotionally equipped to cope with it, despite what she may think.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
I cannot remember a book so beautiful or so moving. I found myself holding my breath for the protagonist, crying for her, hurting for her, cheering for her--and was altogther immersed in the world author Graver has created. I read dozens of novels each year and recommend this as the very best I have encountered in years.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "gwilson12" on February 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
Elizabeth Graver has written a thoughtful book that spoke to me on many levels. First of all, it is a book that makes one realize the importance of forgiveness, and yet how hard the truth is to see when you're in the middle of conflict, hurt. Secondly, the mother/daughter relationship is portrayed in all it's complicated mess so beautifully here. The push/pull relationship is very poignant. Aimee's conflicted feelings about wanting to leave her childhood home, yet how she cannot forgive her mother for letting her leave is very realistic. And Aimee's mother's feelings are palatable. Loved this book!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on March 1, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Graver's Aimee Slater reveals herself without shame, not only through the unraveling of her tangled story, but also through her dreams, fears, hopes, and memories. A tough New Englander rooted in and by the soil, Aimee holds stubbornly to her ideals in an unforgiving environment, thereby becoming a truly "modern woman," one with whom the reader will certainly identify. Her totally candid views of her stultifying life on the farm, her obvious need for comfort and love, and her fears and loneliness in the Lowell mill, where she, friendless, attempts to become independent, all give warmth and power to her character. One also cannot help but respond with sympathy to the role her mother is destined to play, while understanding, too, the inevitability of Aimee's rebellion and its consequences. The story structure itself is somewhat contrived and the plot predictable, an illustration, perhaps, of the lack of choices in the lives of mid-19th century women, but this is a character story and the lack of a unique plot may be appropriate. Whether Aimee's story is approached from a psychological, historical, geographical, or feminist perspective, one will find much satisfaction on every level.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 12, 1997
Format: Hardcover
This book had me catching my breath when reading some of Graver's insights. Some descriptions of Aimee's feelings and thoughts were so close to the heart and soul of a teenage and young girl's relationship with her mother that they left me astounded. Anyone with a kinship for life in New England in the 19th century and an interest in milltowns of the NorthEast will have the countryside in New Hampshire and the factories of Lowell, Massachusetts brought completely to life. A must read and I hope Oprah finds this one! Charlotte Rabbitt, Fairview, TX
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I loved this novel. Aimee is a character I will always remember, for her fierce independence, her sensuality, and her capacity to love despite the hardships she's endured in her life. I'm so glad this book is coming out in paperback. I've been waiting to read it with my book club.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book surely deserves more notice than it's apparently gotten. Graver nails the details of experience in a way that will make you think 'well, of course!' She has a voice much like Toni Morrison's, but even more tightly focused. Overall, a soul-bending work that will connect you with sensations and sorrows you have always somehow known, but could not articulate. A perfectly-rendered first novel.
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