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Arlington Park by Rachel Cusk

Arlington Park

by Rachel Cusk

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
This is more a series of interconnected short stories than a novel, which was a bit of a disappointment for me. This format means there's a tendency to not really develop each character or situation as well as might be done in a full-length work. Nonetheless, this is pretty good writing, I reckon. It's my first dose of Rachel Cusk and I will look for more of her work. ( )
  oldblack | Mar 11, 2015 |
Loved her short story 'Portraits'
  Des2 | Mar 31, 2013 |
This book takes place over the course of one ordinary day, in Arlington Park, a private housing estate just outside London. The viewpoint switches between four or five female characters as they go through their daily routines, and captures their thoughts.

Unfortunately, I found this book quite disappointing. There isn’t really a plot to speak of; this is very much a character driven story. This in itself would not be a problem, except for the fact that there wasn’t a single likeable character amongst the entire cast in this book! The book is populated by women who have nice houses in a nice area, are at least fairly well off financially, and have happy and healthy children. Now while I fully accept that having all of these things does not preclude someone from being unhappy or depressed, I would have thought that at least one of the characters might have been quite contented with her life. But unfortunately, all of the women in this book just seemed to be unhappy – and more irritatingly, they seemed determined to remain so. I ended up feeling frustrated with them, and wanting to point out how fortunate they were.

There’s no doubt that Rachel Cusk can write beautifully – the scenes from a school literary club were extremely believeable, as were the few pages describing the park (of Arlington Park) just after school had broken up for the day. Cusk captures the minutiae of a mundane or ordinary day very well, and at these points, I did find myself nodding in recognition at some of the observations she made. The characters were also well fleshed out. I just didn’t like any of them!

The other thing that bothered me about the book was the significance attached to the smallest things. For example, one wife spots a smear of butter accidentally left on the work surface by her husband. The author likens it to a small mark of (the husband’s masculinity). Well, it could be, I suppose. Or it could just be that the husband accidentally left some butter there. It felt as though there had to be some deep significance to everything that the characters saw, however trivial, however small.

Overall, while I can certainly appreciate the writing, and the attention to detail, this book just didn’t work for me. It was too miserable, and the characters just ended up being unsympathetic and unlikeable. ( )
  Ruth72 | Apr 2, 2012 |
Another book club read which I found very hard going. None of the main characters inspired me - all seemed unhappy or depressed about their lot. I never found the humour nor the beauty promised by the critics! ( )
  heatherthelibrarian | Mar 18, 2012 |
I think the best way to judge this book would be to decide whether I'd read another by the same author, and on reflection I would probably try one sometime. It's mostly a character study with no real plot to speak off. Various thirty something mothers in suburban Arlington Park ramble through a the day pontificating on their trials and tribulations, relationships, children, work, the state of the world, that kind of thing. I was expecting more in the way of unification between the separate threads of the book but in the end I didn't really object to the lack of it. And I would have preferred it if the threads had entwined a bit quicker. There were so many great characterisations, not just the major players but some of the unseen minor ones (the headmistress silently making "tucking motions" to girls with their school shirts hanging loose will stick in my head, just too true to life!) though that I'm left with a good impression of the book now I know the whole of it whereas when reading it I was sometimes wondering where it was going.
  nocto | Dec 8, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rachel Cuskprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Heer, Inge deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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All night the rain fell on Arlington Park.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374100802, Hardcover)

Set in a moderately posh suburb of London, acclaimed British novelist Rachel Cusk's Arlington Park is a captivating exploration of how the simple act of living can become an excruciating exercise in self-deprivation, hypocrisy, and desperation. Set over the course of a single day, the novel follows a group of young mothers who feel both anger at the husbands who seemingly imprisoned them in a world of minivans and coffee klatches, and resignation about the fates they seem destined to fulfill.

While Arlington Park may deal in toddlers and tater tots, it is certainly not another generic Mommy Lit clone. Cusk is a skilled writer, and in her hands, a dreary lunch at the mall food court is transformed into "lost property, but for people." As the day progresses, we watch as Juliet chops her hair off in a small, if meaningless act of rebellion, Amanda stifles a burning desire to scream at a neighbor's kid for ruining her white sofa, Maisie blames her parents for not loving her enough while throwing her daughter's lunchbox at the kitchen wall, and Christine stuffs chicken breasts while silently cursing her husband for spending too much time getting ready for a dinner party. In each scene, the oppressiveness is almost unbearable, prompting readers to practically beg these women to flee as far and as fast as is humanely possible.

Of course, in driving her readers to the edge of frustration and outrage, Cusk succeeds in creating a novel that penetrates deeper than most. Still, after turning the last page, you might find yourself reaching for a little Mommy Lit candy to take the edge off. --Gisele Toueg

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:20 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Arlington Park, a modern-day English suburb, is a place devoted to the profitable ordinariness of life. Set over the course of a single rainy day, this novel moves from one household to another, and through the passing hours conducts a deep examination of its characters' lives. Originally published: 2006.… (more)

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