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Arlington Park [Hardcover]

Rachel Cusk
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
RRP: 14.99
Price: 10.54 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

7 Sep 2006

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.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; First Edition edition (7 Sep 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057122847X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571228478
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 13.8 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 959,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Many writers address the complex subject of modern motherhood,
but few navigate those choppy waters as well as Rachel Cusk' -- The Times

'a gripping, at times funny, often rather beautiful book' -- James Lasdun, Guardian

'a novel about compromises and, in particular, the ones women make
when they become mothers ... an uncomfortable but essential book' -- Observer

'funny and exhilaratingly unrepentant ... deliriously enjoyable' -- Sunday Times

'tender, haunting, grimly comic and infinintely disturbing' -- Jane Shilling, Evening Standard

Book Description

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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed 2 May 2007
I was not enthused by it. I was not put off by the subject matter, the seemingly-bleak lives of 30+ middle-class housewives in a 'nice' part of town, but by the treatment. Cusk was simply trying too hard I thought. So many similes: at one time I felt like getting a pencil and counting how many per page. In the final chapter or so Cusk loosens up, so to speak, with more use of direct conversation. The final dinner party scene made me think of the play Abigail's Party but the latter won hands down.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quietly furious mothers of suburbia 25 Nov 2006
By Wendy V
If you want a plot-driven read, then Cusk isn't for you; nevertheless I did find this book a page-turner. The chapters are linked by the the location, Arlington Park - a well-heeled suburb that is Not London - and by the women who live there, weighed down by husbands and families, appearing normal on the outside, but inwardly fuming. Cusk is very good at describing women momentarily "losing it" with complete strangers, or their children, and it is the way in which she captures her characters' inner dialogues and their very ordinary and all-too-recognisable dramas that makes her work compelling. No quick fixes, no obviously cheery endings. I did expect a little more from the final chapter where characters from the previous chapters are brought together for a dinner party, which is why I'm giving it four stars rather than five, but nevertheless it's a powerful book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very average 24 April 2010
I was given this book by my brother's girlfriend and having heard good things about Cusk was intrigued as to how it would pan out.

As other reviewers here have written, it was a distinctly average book, with very average boring and predictable characters. I could see how Cusk could maybe have been cocking a snook at posh wife/husband combo in the first chapter and the materialistic Christine in the shopping mall but I just didn't see how they really connected and just when Cusk developed a character (the Japanese houseguest or the Italian student houseguest) enough to draw your interest in, then it was abruptly dragged from under your feet afterwards. I really didn't see the point of this book, it illustrated suburbia all too well and was well written in parts but I really found it extremely boring and something I would not recommend. I am even thinking twice before donating it to a friend!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A depressing read 23 Dec 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having read the reviews (both on this site, on the book cover and in the press) I had high hopes for this book. Unfortunately it did not live up to the hype. Yes, it's well written, and yes it's a comment on how we live now. However, it's such a 'glass half empty' book that it feels like a long slog to the end. If you want to read about a bunch of privileged women complaining bitterly about their lives then perhaps this book is for you. For me, it covers no new territory and has a serious sense of humour failure. What it does achieve, however, is to make you feel very glad that you are not in the well-heeled shoes of the women of Arlington Park.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Speaks of nothing new 18 Jan 2008
Cusk develops the characters well, but if it's a good plot you are looking for, then this book may well be one to avoid. Arlington Park puts forward an interesting, and in my opinion feminist, view of motherhood and the 'woman's lot' but really talks of nothing new and hasn't overly inspired me to read any other books by this author.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Jury Is Out 8 Jan 2008
Hmmm. I sped through Arlington Park in two sittings, but my opinion is divided.

First off, I'm not a mother, so I have no idea how accurate the portrayals of motherhood are. For what it's worth, though, I can see my own mother in one or two of the characters, so I'm assuming it is pretty close to the bone.

This is the first book I've read by Rachel Cusk, though she's a name I've been aware of for some time. If I'm perfectly honest, the reason I bought this book in the first place is because I needed a third to make up a 3 for 2 offer, and vaguely recognised her name. And the cover is pretty. Not the most intelligent reason to buy a book but hey ho. Sometimes I really am that shallow.

Rachel Cusk is a very good writer. She has an elegant turn of phrase, she has an eye for minute detail, and her prose is riddled with both anger and the futile nature of suburban domesticity and empathy with her exquisitely detailed characters. However, I couldn't help feeling like the unrelenting bleakness of Arlington Park was just a little too much. By the end of this fairly short book (240 pages) I felt somewhat like I had been walloped over the head with "motherhood is crap, motherhood is crap, motherhood is crap, motherhood is crap. and so are husbands." Perhaps this is my rose-tinted, no-children, view, but surely it can't all be that bad. There was no let up, there was no chink of light through the (carefully selected) curtains.

Rabid feminist as I am, this came across at times as a slightly clumsy feminist manifesto, that - conversely - gives even more grist to the mill of those who say that women only write about domestic matters.

I honestly think that Rachel Cusk is a massively talented writer, I just wish it had been a little more of a balanced story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Desperate Housewives meets Under Milk Wood 13 Jun 2012
By sally tarbox TOP 500 REVIEWER
The start to this novel is brilliantly evocative describing the rain over a night time city: 'In their sleep they heard it, people lying in their beds: the thunderous noise of the made them feel somehow observed, as if a dark audience had assembled outside and were looking in through the windows, clapping their hands.'
And then Cusk takes us through a day in the life of this suburb through the eyes of various middle-class young mums; the snapshots of each show an unremitting dissatisfaction with their husbands and children and their place in a man's world.
I LOVED Cusk's prose but started to get fed up with these moany privileged women!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Arlington Park
The book is like my expectation. I've bough it for a class lesson and I liked to read it. I recommande it!
Published 5 months ago by Anetta Avaro
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull Story, Dull Characters, Dull Book
Plenty of authors, such as Patrick Hamilton, Anthony Burgess, Somerset Maugham and George Orwell to name a few, have written entertaining books about dull people and their dull... Read more
Published 22 months ago by John Fitzpatrick
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
I love the way Rachel Cusk writes - she manages to sketch so perfectly all those little moments that mostly remain unsaid and unseen and yet define your day. Read more
Published 23 months ago by customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant, intelligent and funny
I think some of the negative reviews given to this book say more about the reviewers than about the novel itself. Read more
Published on 4 April 2012 by Redglass
3.0 out of 5 stars The Sadness of Suburbia
This is my first encounter with the writing of Rachel Cusk although this is her sixth novel and was shortlisted for the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction. Read more
Published on 24 Sep 2010 by Lovely Treez
3.0 out of 5 stars One note, well played, but still just one note
A fairly furious and dark polemic against marriage, motherhood, men women and children. Cusk conveys the frustration and bitterness of middle class surburbian life well, sometimes... Read more
Published on 29 Dec 2009 by Lady Fancifull
3.0 out of 5 stars Stormy weather
I would like to like this novel more than I do. It amply fulfils many of the criteria I would assign to "good novel" status. Read more
Published on 11 Sep 2009 by Eileen Shaw
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful !
I absolutely hated this boring depressing book. There is no point in regretting things. Whatever it is - it's over and done with and dont do it again, but, if I were to regret... Read more
Published on 14 July 2008 by M. Henry
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring !
There is no storyline. This book is only about the depressing lives of average housewifes in an average English suburb. Boring.
Published on 5 Jun 2008 by French reader
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