“Betsey Osborne . . . has pulled off an astonishing feat. She’s written a compelling, elegant tale of nuance and loss with the confidence of a fiction veteran.”
---The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Osborne writes effortlessly and wisely, plumbing the troubled depths of the seemingly unruffled surface of ‘ordinary’ life. . . . This is an auspicious debut by a new and very promising writer.”
---The Providence Journal
“[A] graceful minuet of a novel . . . Osborne’s concerns are gratifyingly complex, the predicaments she orchestrates unusual and suspenseful, her humor lithe, and her insights are keen and provocative."
“Writing with the precise and haunting tones of Virginia Woolf, Betsey Osborne creates a compelling a world . . . Uncas Metcalfe is a character for the ages.”
---Stephen J. Dubner, author of the New York Times bestseller Freakonomics
Uncas Metcalfe is a sixty-five-year-old botany professor from a once prosperous central New York town, whose habitat is changing much too quickly: his wife is ill, his daughter has returned home, and memories of an almost forgotten infidelity have resurfaced. Uncas is rooted in a life of plants and manners. When his routine is upended by the menacing demands of a former student, Uncas finds his comfortably obstinate nature at odds with his family’s growing impatience and a newfound, terrifying uncertainty.
The Natural History of Uncas Metcalfe follows an unforgettable hero as he struggles to right himself and adapt to changing expectations, even as he approaches the end of his life. Beautifully wrought and wonderfully imagined, the Metcalfe family will linger in your imagination long after the last page.