Ursula, Under: A Novel

Front Cover
Algonquin Books, 2004 - Fiction - 476 pages
223 Reviews
In Michigan's upper peninsula, a dangerous rescue effort draws the ears and eyes of the entire country. A two-and-a-half-year-old girl has fallen down a mine shaft—"the only sound is an astonished tiny intake of breath from Ursula as she goes down, like a penny into the slot of a bank, disappeared, gone." It is as if all hope for life on the planet is bound up in the rescue of this little girl, the first and only child of a young woman of Finnish extraction and her Chinese-American husband. One TV viewer following the action notes that the Wong family lives in a decrepit mobile home and wonders why all this time and money is being "wasted on that half-breed trailer-trash kid."

In response, the novel takes a breathtaking leap back in time to visit Ursula's most remarkable ancestors: a third-century-B.C. Chinese alchemist; an orphaned playmate of a seventeenth-century Swedish queen; Professor Alabaster Wong, a Chautauqua troupe lecturer (on exotic Chinese topics) traveling the Midwest at the end of the nineteenth century; her great-great-grandfather Jake Maki, who died at twenty-nine in a Michigan iron mine cave-in; and others whose richness and history are contained in the induplicable DNA of just one person—little Ursula Wong.

Ursula's story echoes those of her ancestors, many of whom so narrowly escaped not being born that her very existence—like ours—comes to seem a miracle. Ambitious and accomplished, Ursula, Under is, most of all, wonderfully entertaining—a daring saga of culture, history, and heredity.
  

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An interesting premise. - Goodreads
About 100 pages in, the pace is still a bit slow. - Goodreads
The writing is top notch and the concept is very good. - Goodreads
This would make an excellent book club selection! - Goodreads
Wonderful, original premise. - Goodreads
Ingrid Hill is a wonderful writer. - Goodreads

Review: Ursula, Under

User Review  - Anne Enste - Goodreads

So good. Highly recommend. Read full review

Review: Ursula, Under

User Review  - Anne Enste - Goodreads

So good. Highly recommend. Read full review

All 4 reviews »

Selected pages

Contents

URSULA
1
THE ALCHEMISTS LAST CONCUBINE
15
JUSTIN
55
THE CARAVANMASTERS LIEUTENANT
71
ANNIE
111
THE MINISTER OF MAPS
127
JUSTIN AND ANNIE
179
A FOUNDLING AT THE COURT
223
JINX
267
A WASTREL KILLED BY A SNAIL
301
MINDY JI AND JOE
359
THE WOMAN WHO MARRIED THE BAKERS FRIEND
381
URSULA AGAIN
447
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Ingrid Hill has published short stories in a range of magazines and is the author of one collection, Dixie Church Interstate Blues. She earned her Ph.D. in creative writing at the University of Iowa and has twice received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. The mother of twelve children, including two sets of twins, she and her family live in Iowa City.

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