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Saving Agnes [Paperback]

Rachel Cusk
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

10 Jun 1994
Agnes Day - sub-editor, failure extraordinaire - is unwell. Terminally middle-class, incurably romantic and chronically confused by life's most basic equations, Agnes discovers gaps in her general education which make recovery unlikely. This book won the Whitbread First Novel Award.

Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New edition edition (10 Jun 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 033033347X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330333474
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.4 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 821,916 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Smart, subtle, stylish, and witty."—"The Boston Herald Sunday" "A novel so much more than just clever and sharp that it might be said to be wise . . . Cusk has heart and depth in abundance, and "Saving Agnes" showcases both."—Abby Frucht, "The Village Voice" "Quirky but appealing characters and wry social commentary. . . Exquisite and sometimes diabolical."—Publishers Weekly

Book Description

Rachel Cusk's Whitbread-winning debut is a funny, knowing tale of middle-class, middle-twenties angst. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good first effort 29 Oct 1999
By A Customer
Saving Agnes puts you into the head of a lonesome young Englishwoman. She walks the streets of London in a daze, passively accepting whatever life hands her, both personally and professionally. My reaction to her musings on her life were much the same as I had to "Of Human Bondage": snap out of it! Fortunately, this heroine manages it in far fewer pages, and I found the ending fairly satisfying. It's not as good as the more recent "The Country Life," by any means, but I think that's a good sign. Rachel Cusk is headed in the right direction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stylish and Eloquently Written 8 Jan 2014
Winner of the Whitbread First Novel Award in 1993, Rachel Cusk's debut novel focuses on heroine, Agnes Day, who lives in North London with friends from her university days at Oxford, Merlin and Nina. Agnes works as an assistant editor for a small publishing house on 'Diplomat's Week' magazine, a job she dislikes and finds dull. With a failed romance behind her and an unsatisfactory 'on-off' relationship with her present lover, Agnes continues to look for love, but her naivety and lack of understanding of the world and its workings, and her suspicion that everyone else holds the secret to real life, causes her to become disillusioned and dislocated from what is going on around her. Hating the ordinariness of her life, but unsure of how to go about changing it, Agnes determines to put on a brave face and to pass herself off as a success, but when disconcerting scenes from her childhood and her failed love affair keep returning to haunt her, Agnes finds true life becomes too much for her to cope with.

In this debut novel, which is stylish and eloquently written, Rachel Cusk convincingly portrays Agnes's situation and deftly draws the reader into her heroine's complex life. I do have to say, however, that although I sympathized with Agnes and her problems (is she suffering from clinical depression, an obsessive disorder or extreme anxiety?) I did find myself becoming a little frustrated with her at times and rather saddened by her passivity and lack of self-worth (I would like to explain further but do not want to reveal spoilers).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strange and compelling read 4 Feb 2012
By Bizgen
This book arrived at my door, on it's way to a bookshelf I maintain for a charity. I wasn't sure whether it was my sort of thing, and idly read through a few pages. Then a few more, and then I was hooked.

The main character is a mixed-up and rather naive young woman (worthy of Anita Brookner and Anne Tyler)and it is the desire to see if life ever turns out well for her that kept me going. We follow her as she tries to be like other girls of her age, but she finds it impossible to experience and enjoy life in the same way that they apparently do. One suspects that she is just too intelligent on one level and too unworldly on another, to ever really understand what makes the majority of young women 'tick'. Even her ability to interact with her mother and her brother on her rare visits home, seem doomed to failure.

The writing was good and the character of Agnes was well-drawn and I shall be looking out for more by this author. I am not surprised it won a Whitbread first Novel award when it first came out. Amazon, get them on Kindle!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Her first book, must make allowances! 30 Aug 2011
I found this book rather slow and laborious and it gave off a self-absorbed feel. Too many musings and flashbacks. Sometimes it was a bit interesting, and I did just manage to read it all. So not a very good review, but you got better later Rachel!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Agnes needs saving ?! 7 Jun 2006
This is an enjoyable quick read which I found immensely funny at times.Life in the modern metropolis is sharply observed,the characters likable,overall an enjoyable read by an obviously intelligent & gifted writer.I did feel that many of the scenes had a TV sit-com feel about them & Agnes's unassertiveness somehow didn't chime in with my own knowledge/experiences of the modern,professional working girl,(in my opinion,highly aggressive,thoroughly self-confident beings!).As a first novel though,excellent work,I intend to try her other books & look forward to it with high expectations & not a little excitement.
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