Posted by: Andrea | April 21, 2008

Ursula, Under

Apologies that I haven’t been posting much lately, I’ve been pretty busy with the boyfriend and other related activities.  And since he doesn’t know about this website I can’t really post in front of him, can I?!  He also has a computer that’s slower than molasses in February so I doubt he’s doing much searching on me to find this little piece of the internet.  Of course if he was…hi honey!  Welcome!

Anyway, more on the weekend and other activities later.  Including photos and unpronounceable Gaelic words!  Awesome!

I’ve decided to start writing up book reviews of what I’ve been reading lately, since I read an insane number of books and I’ve wanted a place to write down my thoughts on the different books.  And maybe even recommend one or two.

My most recent finished book is Ursula, Under by Ingrid Hill.  I’ve had this book on my shelf for about eight months, after a friend gave it to me and highly recommended it.  For some reason it never jumped off the shelf and I resisted reading it for quite awhile.  However, I finally picked it up and read it over the past week or so.  

Ursula, Under is about a little girl named Ursula, the daughter of Annie, who is Finnish, and Justin, who is Chinese.  During a family trip, Ursula falls down an abandoned mine shaft.  Interspersed with the stories of the rescue effort are chapters describing various different ancestors of Ursula’s.  These stories range move from ancient china to twelfth century finland and forward through the years until finally reaching Ursula.  The different chapters of each ancestor are wonderfully constructed vignettes of different periods of history.  Due to Ursula’s varied ancestry, the stories cover both European and Asian history and how they eventually come together over the years to become Ursula.

I found this book a bit slow to start out and I wasn’t too sure about my friend’s recommendation.  But it didn’t take long until I was drawn into the story.  Hill’s construction of the book, jumping from the present and Ursula’s rescue to the past and Ursula’s ancestors, was very effective.  Each ancestor was individually engaging and offered a glimpse of different periods of history.  Many of them I knew very little about, such as the history of Finland and Sweden.  The continuing suspense of whether or not Ursula would survive her fall into the mine also pushed the book forward for me.  I wanted to get to the end to find out what happened to her, more so after I found out more about her parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.  Overall I enjoyed the construction of the book, though occasionally I felt it was a bit of an overly-constructed shortcut, simply a way to tie all these different stories together.  Still, it managed to keep my attention and as the book went on I wanted to learn more about Annie and Justin and their parents and how they all got to where they were.

Though this book did start slow, I found it entertaining and very easy to read.  If you’re at all interested in the history of China, Scandinavia or ancestry in general, this is the book for you!


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