Ursula Under Author:Ingrid Hill Once in a while, a first-time novelist dares to write bravely and big. Ingrid Hill has done just that with her breathtaking first novel. — In Michigan's Upper Peninsula, a dangerous rescue effort draws the ears and eyes of the entire country. When a two-year-old girl falls down a mine shaft it is as if all hope for life on the planet is bound... more » up in her rescue. Little Ursula Wong is the first and only child of a young woman of Finnish extraction and her Chinese-American husband. The Wongs live in a decrepit mobile home and their child is designated by one onlooker as "half-breed trailer trash," not worth all the attention and expense.
Oh yeah? responds the story's narrative voice. Let's just see. And here the novel explodes into a grand saga of culture, history, and heredity, spanning across two thousand years, describing lives that culminate in the fragile miracle of a little girl underground. By its end, we've met, among others of Ursula Wong's ancestors, a 2nd-century B.C. Chinese alchemist; an orphaned consort to a 16th-century Swedish queen; Professor Alabaster Wong, a Chautauqua troupe lecturer on exotic Chinese topics traveling the Midwest at the end of the 19th century; and Ursula's great-great-grandfather Jake Maki, a mine worker who died in a cave-in at age twenty-nine.
Ursula's ultimate fate echoes that of her ancestors, so many of whom so narrowly escaped not being born that any given individual's life comes to seem a miracle. Ambitious and accomplished, Ursula, Under is, most of all, wonderfully entertaining. A work of symphonic richness and profound empathy, Ursula, Under dramatically demonstrates that no one is truly alone.« less
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I still think about this book from time to time, as that's how good it was. Ingrid Hill skillfully weaves together the stories of Ursula's very disparate ancestors who faced difficulties and challenges with courage, humor and sometimes sheer luck.
2 year old Ursula Wong falls through an abandoned mine shaft while on a picnic with her parents. The plot throughout the rest of this novel is mesmerizing. Ursula's parents' family trees are traced backward, taking the reader on a journey through many countries in different centuries, through good marriages and bad. It is an excellent book, and one I highly recommend.
Its been a while since I read this novel, but what really stuck with me is the vast array of characters. The whole book is pretty much a character study, but its one of the best I've read it this genre. Its beautifully international. If you are interested in history and world cultures, this is a gem! The author clearly did a lot of research to write this.
The best part: it chronicles people of all walks of life throughout history around the world, and yet you can identify with each one.
Ursula falls down an unused mine shaft while picnicing with her parents. As the rescue begins, the reader travels along Ursula's chain of ancestors going back as far as 2000 years and revealing connections to her modern day relatives.