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Arlington Park Hardcover – 7 Sep 2006

3.0 out of 5 stars 29 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 (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 776,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

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: 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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Format: Paperback
The most boring pretentious rubbish I've ever had the misfortune to read, no plot, no likeable characters just a long rambling whinge - a huge so what - it isn't even original. I found myself skipping pages and I never do that, and couldn't wait for the moaning dirge to end - finished it only to see if something would happen - it didn't. Don't waste money or time on this up it's own backside pile of nowt.
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Format: Paperback
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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