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Unfurled Paperback – October 23, 2018
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"Michelle Bailat-Jones has written a stark, haunting novel that explores the binds of family, of marriage, and of mothering and being mothered. In the wake of Ella’s father’s death, what appears to be an ending is in fact the beginning of unraveling a life’s worth of mysteries, as well as what it means to forgive others and forgive oneself. This is a gorgeous, sea-drenched book of exceptional lyricism that drew me in from the very first page.”―Anne Valente, author of Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down
"Unfurled is a poignant novel about the chaos of life, and the mind and heart. Bailat-Jones writes with clarity, control, beauty, and a crystalline understanding of people―our fragility and strength, flaws and virtues, wounds and recovery. A wonderful accomplishment." ―Ethel Rohan, author of The Weight of Him
For more than twenty years, Ella has learned to live without her mother, Maggie, who disappeared into a fog of mental illness when Ella turned ten. Despite this trauma, Ella has forged ahead, becoming a veterinarian, getting married, and most of all, developing a deep, trusting bond with her father, John, a ferry captain in Seattle.
Ella’s contented life is shattered when her father is hit by a car and killed. Going through his papers, she learns that her father maintained a secret relationship with her mother. The unsettling questions raised by her father’s death and her mother’s unexpected reappearance sends Ella on a journey to discover the truth about the woman who abandoned her and the man who raised her, a journey that threatens her marriage, her unborn child, and ultimately, her sanity.
About the Author
- Publisher : Ig Publishing (October 23, 2018)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1632460750
- ISBN-13 : 978-1632460752
- Item Weight : 8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.75 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,467,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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About the author
Reviewed in the United States on November 3, 2018
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UNFURLED opens with a deranged, devouring mother. Never mind that this is a dog with a newborn pup dangling from her jaw. The metaphor of deranged mother will hold throughout the story from our first encounter with Ella, a child abandoned by her own deranged mother who has grown up to become a veterinarian with a remarkably reliable husband. Neil glows as a symbol of normalcy. Ella needs him, but is emotionally blocked and crushed by her father’s accidental death. After all, he has been her lifesaver since age ten, the one who kept her safe, a ferry boat captain who taught her how to navigate the world.
The intensity of Bailat-Jones’s plot is delivered by her urgent narrative voice. She deploys the immediacy of the present tense and a first person telling that can feel grinding in its detail at times, but this is how we come to know Ella’s fragility. The novel is all forward movement in its keen observation, a diary of Ella-in-Progress that reads as a kind of testimony to claim her mother’s irrelevance and her father’s love, even in the midst of his perceived betrayal. Ella is also working out the ultimate betrayal of death, the ultimate abandonment. With her, we follow clues of past and present as a sailor works with sails, rigging, wind, speed, and depth. In her determination to right herself, as if she were a sail boat on the verge of capsizing, Ella is guided by instinct in these fluid borderlands where her own child is floating inside of her—as yet unloved, because she finds herself incapable of love when she needs it most.
The beauty of UNFURLED is found in the sustained metaphors of land and sea. As Ella is forced to embrace her own life, she is forced to discover that all forms of life cannot coexist. This may have something to do with biology or it may be a matter of choice. The only way to know, to find the limits, is to unfurl the sails and enter the unpredictable wind of another day. With Michelle Bailat-Jones at the helm, loss will always be waiting out there, standing next to love on some distant shore.
By Rosie on November 3, 2018
time, a place where the rules are too often unspoken, never declared.") to the vernacular ("F*cking beautiful dog. A stunning mouse gray with sea-green eyes. Elegantly built.") is a wonder on its own. The language transports, but the story also delivers powerful emotional and intellectual questions about the human struggle, especially when it comes to families, to secrets, and to the things we bury deep inside.
In Unfurled, the everyday struggles of characters dealing with their professions (veterinarian, ship captain, etc.) are coupled with deep seeded trauma and pain of the past pushed up against the risk of the future. This is a book that almost all of us can related to and that reminds us that we often do not know the people we love the way we think we do.
Just as powerful as her first novel, Fog Island Mountains, this second book adds another layer of familiarity and heart that makes it impossible to put down. I loved this book, and it will be on my holiday shopping list for all my favorite readers this year, especially those in my family. Because as Bailat-Jones reminds us, family is complicated. You take it where you can get it, and love it for what it is.