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Arlington Park Hardcover – 7 Sep 2006

28 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (7 Sept. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057122847X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571228478
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 977,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'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

Arlington Park by Rachel Cusk: 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

3.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By H. M. Kingston on 2 May 2007
Format: Hardcover
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Frances D. Dickens on 24 April 2010
Format: Paperback
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By sally tarbox TOP 500 REVIEWER on 13 Jun. 2012
Format: Paperback
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 water...it 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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER on 29 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback
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 extremely well, but there's little to leaven the bleakness of the shallow existences of her characters. Even the character (male) who is a brilliant teacher to no-hoper boys is ridiculous. If i compare this feminist leaning novel with, for example, any of Marge Piercy's oeuvre Braided Lives (sadly I believe out of print), Woman on the Edge of Time (A Women's Press classic), there is a depth, rounded characterisations and sympathy/understanding in French and Piercy which Cusk misses.

Cusk is a good descriptive writer - though this sometimes seems very self-consciously 'literary', for example the 'day in the life' chapter about the park, but when a writer seems to be showing off her fine turn of phrase and pictorial ability, this is the display of fine writing, rather than the inhabiting of it.

She's clearly an intelligent, insightful and perceptive writer, but stands at too much of a remove from the bleak and messy humanity she writes about.

For a very very different habitation of female existential despair Cusk makes me want to return to the wonderful, intelligent and deeply felt The Bell Jar
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Miss Marple on 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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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Wendy V on 25 Nov. 2006
Format: Hardcover
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Other Stories on 8 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback
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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