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The Lucky Ones Paperback – 26 Feb 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; New Ed edition (26 Feb. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857029135
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857029130
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 121,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'The Lucky Ones has a theme equal to its author's wit, intelligence and genius for observation. This novel is not a particularly comfortable place to be, partly because it's so much like life and partly because Rachel Cusk is brilliant at depicting unattractive characters. But anyone who has ever lived in a family will relish it.' Cressida Connolly, Daily Telegraph

'Her prose is measured and poised. She shares Virginia Woolf's interest in making art out of the minutiae of women's inner monologues.' Stephanie Merritt, Observer

‘Compelling, profound and crafted in precise prose dripping with wit.’ John Harding, Daily Mail

'You want to gasp with the shock of recognition at a rarely articulated thought delivered with a visceral punch.' Independent

'Restrained, elegant and fiercely observant.' Jane Shillilng, Daily Telegraph

'Impressively written' Marie Claire

'Cusk's writing unsettles by transforming the everyday into a strange and frightening place. She has taken old concerns and given them new life. All this is accomplished with her startling prose…The nuances of relationships, of motives which cannot be understood, are given voice, and it is a magical one.' Kath Murphy, Scotland on Sunday

Cusk's is a unique voice… her observations are so intelligent and multi-layered… her style has a rhythm that sucks you in and pulls you along… An intelligent read from a stong feminist voice of our times.' Time Out

'This is not a book about the joy of families, but one which will be recognised by anyone who has children as being full of uncomfortable truth.' Lesley Garner, Evening Standard

From the Back Cover

In this profound study of human relationships, five overlapping narratives of love and detachment merge to form a powerful evocation of family identity.

A young pregnant woman's misfortune; a new father's disaffection; a daughter's search for a lost childhood; a mother's antagonism; a wife's secret suffering – through it all runs the story of Victor Porter, a campaigning lawyer, and his journalist wife, Serena, in whose relationship the conflict between the public and the personal, between love and morality, is played out.

Rachel Cusk writes of life's transformation, of what separates us from those we love and what binds us to those we no longer understand. 'The Lucky Ones' is a novel about creating and sustaining life. It illuminates with startling precision the texture and complexity of emotional existence within 'the bustling concourses of life'.

On 'A Life's Work'

'As compulsive as a thriller'
Kate Kellaway, 'Observer'

'An incitement to riot. I laughed out loud, often, in painful recognition.'
Esther Freud

'Full of enormous insight and sly wit. Cusk has crafted a work of beauty and wisdom. And belly laughs.'
Suzanne Moore, 'New Statesman'

'Some alchemy of her prose renders this most fascinating and boring of all subjects graceful, eloquent, modest and true.'
Jane Shilling, 'Sunday Telegraph'

On 'The Country Life:'

'This book is a delight. 'The Country Life' is remarkable for two things; its humour and its menace. Its mixture of P.G. Wodehouse, 'Cold Comfort Farm', and Jane Austen is a pleasure to read.'
Tibor Fischer, 'Sunday Express'

'I was addicted. The detail is breathtaking and Cusk's descriptions of a heatwave in the countryside almost had me dripping sweat and scratching the nettle stings. It is also hysterically funny.'
Lisa Jewell'

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have read all of Cusk's previous work, and I must preface this review by admitting that I am a fan. Except for Saving Agnes, I have found all her novels and short stories to be mesmerizing. Two particular favorites were The Temporary and The Country Life. I would say this book is a departure, but it has been my experience that every new work by Cusk is a departure. That is why she is so readable: she will constantly surprise you with each effort. I don't know if "The Lucky Ones" will be ranked among my favorites, but I wouldn't have missed it. For the masterpiece that is the chapter entitled "Mrs. Daley's Daughter", it is not to be missed. Mrs. Daley is an instantly recognizable monster, who serves herself up to the reader with chilling self-justification. The final section was also very moving, and drew me in completely, although I felt the storyline blundered slightly into both sentimentality and shock/horror in the final pages. (it sounds impossible to have both, but read it and you will see what I mean). But whatever you might say about this book, you could never call it predictable or mundane. It is like all of Rachel Cusk's work: it pulls back the curtain on things we could only guess at before. Her psychological insights are always worth the cost of her books.
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There's a 19th-century Italian aria that begins 'to be a mother is to be in hell'. This might be a fitting epitaph for Rachel Cusk's brilliantly written but extremely gloomy set of interlinked short stories, all of which deal with failures of communication of some kind - between parents and children, between partners/husbands and wives and between friends. In the first short story, Kirsty, imprisoned for a crime she did not commit, gives birth in jail, aware that the illness of her lawyer and the inefficiency of his assistant who has taken over the case are likely to lead to her losing her daughter. The second story takes the lawyer's assistant, Jane, as one of the characters, and is set in a luxury ski resort, where a group of friends are hoping to enjoy a winter holiday. In fact, one couple are at odds because the wife has lost interest in sex and only cares about her children, in the other couple, Thomas (Jane's husband) is lusting after the single girl on the trip, Josephine, and Martin, the sixth member of the party, is desperately worried about his wife's post-natal depression. The third story is told by the sister of Lucy, one of the women on the ski-ing trip, and deals with her failure to communicate properly with her partner Robert over both marriage and children, and her longing to return to the securities of childhood. But childhood is proved not to be secure at all in the creepy fourth story, 'Mrs Daley's Daughter', about a control-freak suburban matron, whose daughter (Josephine from story 2) returns home after the birth of her first baby, suffering from post-natal depression. As Josephine's condition worsens, dark secrets from the past about Mrs Daley's horrific behaviour to her husband and daughter are revealed.Read more ›
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This is a well-crafted piece of work from a very talented writer. Rachel Cusk knows a thing or two about women, and their "self-referenced tapestries", their lives as mothers, sisters, daughters, and wives. She also understands very well what it means to be a parent, and how children change our lives in ways that are impossible to predict. She fully succeeds in showing us the intricate dynamics of human relationships in families, in friendship, at work.

This book takes you to a hidden world behind closed doors, in quiet villages, or busy towns, to an ocean of deceptively naive conversations, thoughts and events that shape the characters' psychic worlds.

The prose is a delight in itself, full of witty observations combined with a dose of lyric language that goes straight to the point.

I would give ten stars to the book if I could. I haven't enjoyed a book so thoroughly in a very long time. I fully recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
I have read other books by Rachel Cusk and generally enjoyed them, but not this one. The book is a sequence of stories, connected by the mention of a lawyer who is acquainted with some of the characters in each story. I didn't warm to any of the characters nor did I find them believable. In fact, I didn't care about them at all and I found the whole book a bit of an ordeal. Another reviewer suggests that Ms Cusk used this book to practise her literary style, and I have to say I agree with this.

I almost gave up on the book when I read the line 'I felt I had failed to secure the definitive territories of my family existence' - this supposedly the thoughts of a child. I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.

It is terribly difficult to read a book that is so littered with prose that tries so hard to be impressive and lyrical. It came as a relief towards the end of the book to read a page or two that had relatively normal dialogue. The author finds it hard to describe something without adding an 'as if...' or an 'as though ..' clause. The description might be thought-provoking in isolation but with often several examples on one page, it just becomes tedious.

Rachel Cusk tends to concentrate on detailing the thoughts and lives of ordinary people - this is what I generally enjoy about her writing. I like the way she picks out the real motives behind what people do, the bitter little transactions that go on in all our lives. But there has to be sympathy and compassion, the reader needs to feel some connection with the characters - in this book I didn't. Perhaps this was down to my irritation with the writing style, but I think mainly it was because I don't think the author felt any connection with her characters.
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