By Ingrid Hill
(Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Hardcover, 9781565123885, 476pp.)
Publication Date: January 2004
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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.