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Arlington Park by [Cusk, Rachel]
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Arlington Park Kindle Edition

3.0 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Review

"ARLINGTON PARK is a strikingly good novel, funny, poignant, savage, tender, and appalling. What I like most is the purity of the writing, the beautiful aptness of the language to thought and theme, and the play of wit. The satire has force because is is written from within, and all the characters, however absurd, are trapped, struggling, and deeply human."
--Helen Dunmore, author of THE SIEGE and TALKING TO THE DEAD, winner of the Orange Prize


""Arlington Park" is a strikingly good novel, funny, poignant, savage, tender, and appalling. What I like most is the purity of the writing, the beautiful aptness of the language to thought and theme, and the play of wit. The satire has force because is is written from within, and all the characters, however absurd, are trapped, struggling, and deeply human."
--Helen Dunmore, author of "The Siege" and "Talking to the Dead," winner of the Orange Prize


"Everything about "Arlington"" Park"" "is original and fearless."--Francine Prose, "Bookforum"

"Hideously funny . . . A novel with a sense of rightness at its core and a narrative intelligence so swift and piercing it can take your breath away.""--The Boston Globe"

"Her books are smart and deep, telling tales of urban life that are the twenty-first-century version of Austen or Thackeray. . . . Cusk's depictions and evaluations are spot-on, her language smooth and enthralling."--"Baltimore"" Sun"

"Cusk's glory is her style, cold and hard and devastatingly specific, empathetic but not sympathetic."--"Los Angeles"" Times"

"Cusk's frank acknowledgment of maternal ambivalence is rare and wonderful."--"Entertainment Weekly"

"Sharp wit and commanding prose."--"The New York Times"

"Devastating . . . Incisively vivid."--"Publishers Weekly"

Sunday Times

'funny and exhilaratingly unrepentant ... deliriously enjoyable'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 549 KB
  • Print Length: 257 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Open market ed edition (9 Dec. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004G8QI1M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #245,668 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
Rachel Cusk has quietly been writing exciting fiction for years. She has been recognised on a literary level - her first novel, Saving Agnes, won The Whitbread First Novel Award, The Country Life won a Somerset Maugham Award, The Lucky Ones was shortlisted for The Whitbread Novel Award, and In The Fold was longlisted for The Booker Prize. Yet commercial success has eluded her somewhat. I have always felt my entreaties to friends to read some Cusk, which have been ongoing for more than a decade, fell on deaf or indifferent ears.

Cusk's subject matter has visibly changed throughout her career. Saving Agnes and The Temporary dealt with girls seeking career success. The Country Life focused on romance, friendship and betrayal. The Lucky Ones came next, followed by In The Fold , which looked at family life and the allure of other people's lives, especially when unconventional. And sometime around there, Cusk became a mother and wrote her non fiction book A Life's Work, which expressed the ambiguity of motherhood, the drudgery of caring for a small child and the loss of self. This latter caused quite a distraught flapping of mother hen wings - to say that motherhood was tiring and boring was tantamount to sacrilege. But Cusk's obvious intelligence and writing talent pulled her through, and deep down many mothers thought she'd hit the nail firmly on its mobile-dangling head.

Arlington Park is a natural progression from that. Following the lives of a disparate group of women through 24 hours in the desirable but stifling suburbs, it homes in on the disatisfaction and ennuie in their lives.
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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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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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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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