From one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists comes this extraordinary novel that takes us behind the closed doors of an affluent suburb in England, into the hearts and minds of the women who are trying to survive there.
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Arlington Park, a modern-day English suburb, is a place devoted to the profitable ordinariness of life. Amidst its leafy avenues and comfortable houses, its residents live out the dubious accomplishments of civilisation: material prosperity, personal freedom, and moral indifference. For all that, Arlington Park is strikingly conventional. Men work, women look after children, and people generally do what’s expected of them. Theirs is a world awash with contentment but empty of belief, and riven with strange anxieties.
Set over the course of a single rainy day, the novel moves from one household to another, and through the passing hours conducts a deep examination of its characters’ lives: of Juliet, enraged at the victory of men over women in family life; of Amanda, warding off thoughts of death with obsessive housework; of Solly, who confronts her own buried femininity in the person of her Italian lodger; of Maisie, despairing at the inevitability with which beauty is destroyed; and of Christine, whose troubled, hilarious spirit presides over Arlington Park and the way of life it represents.
Rachel Cusk’s sixth novel is her best yet. Full of compassion and wit, each page laden with truth, she writes about her characters’ domestic lives, their private thoughts and fears with an intelligence and insight that will leave readers reeling.
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