'I'm not interested, the way some people are, in being sad. I've had a look, and there's nothing down that road. Well now! What about the ripping sound behind my eyes, the starchy tearing of fabric, end to end; what about the need I have to curl up my knees when I sleep?' Reta Winters, aged 44, has started a new sort of life. She has discovered the meaning of loss for the first time. For all of her days, Reta has enjoyed the useful monotony of happiness: a loving family, good friends, growing success as a writer of light fiction, novels 'for summertime'. Then her eldest daughter suddenly withdraws from the world, abandoning university, family and loving boyfriend to sit on a street corner, uncommunicative but for a sign around her neck bearing one word, 'GOODNESS'. The anguish of her loss leads Reta into a desperate search for the possible causes of her daughter's retreat. Casting her net ever wider, her enquiry turns into an unflinching, often very funny meditation on our society and where we find meaning and hope. Warmth, passion and wisdom come together in Shield's remarkably supple prose. At once the discomforting, ultimately consoling story of one family's anguish and a searing portrait of life at the dawn of the twenty-first century 'Unless' is a dazzling and daring novel from the undisputed master of extraordinary fictions about so-called 'ordinary' lives.
Abridged to fit on 4 cassettes running to c6hrs. Read by Lorelei King.