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In the Fold Paperback – 1 Jun 2006

2.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (1 Jun. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571228143
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571228140
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.5 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 665,470 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Original writing is difficult to define but easy to spot. Award-winning author Rachel Cusk, one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists, has a style that is uncluttered by modern whims. It’s 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 people’s lives bears more than a passing resemblance to the family of an old university chum, Adam Hanbury. When Adam’s larger-than-life, opinionated father develops prostrate cancer, Michael is persuaded to help with the lambing on the family’s 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.

Review

"'In The Fold is an enchanting and appallingly funny novel.' Helen Dunmore"

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2.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Despite the reviews, I feel that I have to support this book to some degree. Cusk is a very mannered writer and her tale of Michael and his disillusionment not only towards his marriage but also his perceptions of the idyllic country life of his friend's family can at times be a difficult one to read. The prose can be dense and, as one of the other reviewers noted, laboured. In some ways it is a mid-life crisis tale, and as the increasingly embittered Michael distances himself willingly from his wife he is also be distanced unwillingly from his youth by the passage of time. Michael is not a likeable character, but then again very few of the characters in this book are attractive at all. The misogyny present in the characterisations of most of the female characters is not at all pleasant. Michael's story is very similar to several of Anita Brookner's protagonists, whose retrospective meditations on their youth only reinforce their dissatisfaction with what they have achieved or failed to achieve as mature adults. Cusk, however, does not have Brookner's facility with words or her knack of Jamesian observation, and this is where In the Fold really falters. It might have been a interesting character study, if the writing was a little less contrived and anxious to be seen as serious literary fiction. Despite my comments, I did enjoy reading this book, as Michael and his fellow characters are some the most bitter and pathetic individuals I have ever encountered in contemporary fiction; but equally I found it a thoroughly depressing examination of 30 something angst that left me wondering just what Cusk wanted the reader to take away from this book.
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Format: Hardcover
A study of the fragility of identity, perception and relationships, examining the darkness hidden beneath the most respectable of veneers, as people talk without managing to communicate to any great effect.

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.
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By Dr R TOP 500 REVIEWER on 1 Jun. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This is the first book by Rachel Cusk that I have read. Various friends and colleagues had recommended her and an almost equal number had gritted their teeth when I mentioned her name. So I decided it was time to make my own mind up.

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.
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Format: Paperback
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book (and I'm glad I hadn't read the other reviews before I started it - nothing like other peoples' opinions to colour your own ideas of something) but I found it a challenging and engaging read. Yes, 'nothing much happens' but I didn't feel that was the point - aren't there other books in which 'nothing much happens' but are still enjoyable?

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.
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By Steve on 17 Feb. 2007
Format: Paperback
I'm amazed that the author of this truly awful novel has been nominated for the Whitbread and so on. In the Fold is quite spectacularly vacuous- this, it may be argued, is the point- after all, its a novel about twittering middle-class idiots and their pathetic neuroses. As such, there may have been some scope here for a scathing or incisive critique of such a subject (even though its been done a million times before). However, what really cripples this novel is it's so badly written. For instance, the dialogue is terrible. A novelist must have a feel for dialogue- you can't simply plonk words in the mouths of the characters and expect this to work, but Cusk seems to have no feel for how people actually talk. This is a fatal flaw, because the novel rests largely on the dialogue. Nothing happens besides the idle gossip of the characters- such as who's sleeping with whom, who's just bought a house in Spain, or melodramatic outpourings like "All my life Ive been looking for something straight and fixed, something I could pour myself into that would hold me..." Jeez.

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.
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