1930s america

A tale of love and grim determination: Zorrie, by Laird Hunt, reviewed

When Zorrie Underwood, the titular character in Laird Hunt’s deeply touching novel about an Indiana farm woman, is pregnant, a little girl asks how her baby breathes. ‘Like a fish,’ says Zorrie, which is how Hunt treats his readers, luring them with a snapshot of Zorrie’s diminishing days before reeling them in as her life unspools. Grief stamps an early and enduring presence on Zorrie when diphtheria takes her parents, leaving her to be raised by a harsh elderly aunt who had ‘drunk too deeply from the cup of bitterness after a badly failed marriage’. Zorrie takes solace in nature and nuggets of kindness from her schoolteacher, but finds herself