In the Fold Paperback – 1 Jun 2006
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Original writing is difficult to define but easy to spot. Award-winning author Rachel Cusk, one of Grantas Best of Young British Novelists, has a style that is uncluttered by modern whims. Its crisp and clear but full of depth and nuance; dark and brooding but light and witty at the same time.
Michael lives in Bath with his skittish wife Rebecca and their strangely uncommunicative young son in a beautiful Georgian terraced house given to them by his in-laws--whose need to control other peoples lives bears more than a passing resemblance to the family of an old university chum, Adam Hanbury. When Adams larger-than-life, opinionated father develops prostrate cancer, Michael is persuaded to help with the lambing on the familys remote farm, Egypt Hill, where a menagerie of animals, wives and ex-wives, children and grand-children collide rather than co-exist with one another.
While there is little "plot" to speak of, this is a book about the complex relationships of families and the emotional needs of modern living. The stark writing manages to lay bare the souls of the main characters, providing rare insights. Never preaching, nor condescending, Cusk allows her reader to appreciate the multiple layers of personality and the hit and miss nature of human interaction--some of which makes no sense but works against the odds, and others which slowly but surely destroy everything in their wake. While Cusk will never appeal to those looking for one dimensional storylines with cardboard characters, this beautifully, sparingly written gem is sure to delight the discerning reader. --Carey Green --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"'In The Fold is an enchanting and appallingly funny novel.' Helen Dunmore"See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
While this is certainly a well-written piece, there are times when the effort the author is making is all too apparent. Consequently, it seems a little laboured and the characters dissolve into little more than ciphers.
Published in 2005, "In the Fold", Cusk's fourth book, tells two interlocking stories. Firstly, about our narrator, university student, Michael, who is unexpectedly invited to Egypt Hill, the farm owned by his college floor mate, Adam Hansbury. The occasion is the eighteenth birthday of Adam's sister, Caris. Michael is thrust into a totally different world of louche living, unclear moral boundaries and freedom of expression and behaviour.
Later, as a grown man, Adam, a lawyer, finds himself in a marriage that appears to be falling apart. His wife, Rebecca is self-obsessed and believes that chance, circular encounters will decide one's life, whilst Hamish, their three-year-old son, is still not speaking but can make realistic bell-like noises. Part of the problem for Michael is that they are living in a Georgian house owned by Rebecca's parents, who are artistic, rich and believe that every conversation should include the f-word as many times as possible.
Michael just avoids being killed or seriously injured when their balcony collapses and he decides to catch up with Adam, whom he has not seen for some years. He is invited to help out with spring lambing, hence the book's title. The second part of the book, which I found rather more rambling, tells of what he found, when he visited with Hamish, and how this subsequently affected his life and his marriage.
I had been warned me that "Cusk never uses one simile or metaphor where two or three will do" and, as a newcomer, this was also my impression.Read more ›
I found Cusk's style of descriptive writing to be intelligent and well-phrased. She paints pictures with her words, so much so that I found it easy to imagine the settings in which the story takes place. I did find some of her analogies difficult to grasp (during one conversation, for example, Michael imagines a heart beating to symbolise a marriage and almost immediately moves onto the wiring of a plug), but it certainly made me think.
If you want to read a book which isn't necessarily 'a blockbuster' but is something you'll need to concentrate on, read this book. I'm certainly looking forward to reading Cusk's other novels now.
Secondly, like many would-be writers, the text is cluttered with unnecessary and pretentious descriptions. It suffers from the old flaw of trying too hard: so there are too many adjectives and contrived similes; all in an attempt to offer some kind of quasi-profound commentary on these affluent morons. But Cusk is never able to penetrate beyond mere description- she stays insistently on the surface of things, which is why this novel is so relentlessly tedious, the characters nothing more than a procession of showroom dummies. There's no sense of any inner necessity driving this novel, which is why it ends up being so tiresome.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
To like this book I think you have to really like Cusk's writing style, which is a bit too verbose for my tastes. Read morePublished on 19 Dec. 2010 by Phil O'Sofa
Nice, ordinary Michael, after a weekend aged 18 with the rich, zany family of his university friend Adam, tries to re-create the excitement he felt there by marrying Rebecca, who... Read morePublished on 21 Mar. 2010 by Bob Ventos
I was waiting for this book to grip me, something which never came to pass. Cusk portrays a certain sinister shadow of the glorious Shakespeare in her painting illustious portraits... Read morePublished on 7 Dec. 2008 by Kirsten Zara Naudé